Coral Reef II: The Second Edition

We spent Friday through Sunday off the water. Our time was spent doing as much office work as we could squeeze in with some last minute island activities. Monday started off like any other day, with some work before we would head off to various DCP engagements. First we had a talk with middle school students from the Chicago City Day School onboard the Coral Reef II (CRII). The kids were very eager to listen and to participate in the talk. They answered all of the questions that Kel asked during the presentation without delay! We were all impressed by the kids and their ability to connect different marine issues (such as overfishing) to dolphins and vice versa. The kids’ minds and answers were limitless and it was quite refreshing to be able to interact with people that were under the age of 15. After the talk we stayed aboard for lunch and mingled with teachers and crew. We really enjoyed the enthusiasm of the kids (and the crew) and greatly appreciated their hospitality. It was such a great experience and we met so many wonderful people!

After the CRII, we headed back home for briefly to collect our gear for the boat and to get ready to go out on a dolphin trip. Before the dolphin trip, we stopped at the Sea Crest Hotel to meet the group from Hunter College that will be aboard this whole week. We briefly introduced ourselves and Kel gave a quick tutorial on how to use the underwater cameras. After that we headed over to the docks, organized our gear on deck, and headed out to find dolphins!

The water was a bit choppy, but we’ve learned to handle ourselves well with wind and current. It did not take us long before we saw a group of spotted dolphins! This was a group of 5 subadults/adults. We identified Buster (#04) and we think we may have seen Lil’ Jess (#35) and her distinctive underbite! We followed this group of dolphins for over an hour! However, when we tried to get into the water for an underwater observation, they just zipped past us without so much as a second glance. These dolphins were on the move and didn’t really care to stick around with us. Just as we were contemplating leaving this group, we saw a calf leap out of the water as if excitedly swimming toward the boat with its mother in tow!

Sure enough, a group of about 6 spotted dolphins had spotted us and were coming to investigate! We observed 3 juveniles in the group that were really enjoying riding the bow wake. Soon we were able to gear up for a second attempt at an underwater observation. This encounter was much better than the first try; the dolphins really approached us and were investigating and displaying all kinds of social behaviors. We were fortunate enough to have more than 20 minutes in the water with this group! After the dolphins swam away we hopped back on board. Everyone was keeping an eye on the squalls to our south. While we prepped to go back in the water, the dolphins were suddenly nowhere to be seen. We suddenly spotted them again, but the squall was close and we needed to head home. On the way, we ran into a bit of rain and more dolphins! Captain Al had spotted at least three more dolphins in the bow wake. However, by that point, it was time to continue home.

We had a great start to the week and all the students of Hunter College were happy that their first day on the island turned to be quite successful! We can’t wait to continue interacting with the students and to see more dolphins!

Until next time,
Salma, Nicole & Kel