Tired Eyes “Spotted” Dolphins


On Saturday morning, we discussed last night’s movie, which was very interesting. Then we worked on more photo-ID from Friday’s boat trip. We already knew that Lil’ Jess (#35) was there with her calf, but we were also able to positively identify Freckles (#15), another adult female. It is likely the second calf in this group was hers. After a break, John Anderson (Terramar Productions) showed us a video clip from Friday’s trip, set to some nice music! Then we had a showing of “Understanding Dolphins,” his latest project with Dr. Dudzinski. We discussed some of the various opinions on dolphins in captivity, along with the pros and cons of research and the value of public education. Of course, the recent film “Blackfish” came in the discussion and we commented about Sea World’s ability to fund so much research. We found ourselves discussing other variables, like how concrete pools affect dolphins’ vocalizations and our ability to record them.

After lunch, we headed in search of dolphins again. It started sunny and hot, but seemed to get progressively cloudy and choppier. It wasn’t until 16:56, that we saw our first dolphin – a bottlenose who made a very brief appearance, coming straight to the bow and then diving down and away. So, it was quickly back to searching. At 18:02 we got what we’d been searching for: spotteds! At first there were 13 dolphins, but under water Kel was able to count 16. While we watched from the boat, one of the calves repeated leapt completely out of the water. There was a lot of synchronized surfacing and surfing, and many were bowriding. The calves sometimes came to the boat without adults; then it seemed like they were getting called back to the adults. We noticed that the calves surfaced to breathe more often than adults, which makes sense. Although we weren’t sure the dolphins would stick around for long, we hopped in for an underwater observation. We were pleasantly surprised at how much we got to see! At first, we saw the big group – but soon, they swam away. We were pleased though, when they returned! Seeing them interacting with each other was cool; the opportunity to observe them doing their own thing is really enjoyable. There group was diving to the sea floor together, swimming belly to belly, pectoral fin to body rubbing and much more vocal than previous days – a lot of new behaviors! Back on the boat, we were all excited and talking about how we actually recognized Lil’ Jess (#35) on our own. Our photo-ID skills are definitely improving. The other catalogued individuals in the group included Speedy (#78), Split Jaw (#22), Prince William (#64), Juliette (#12) and possibly Cerra (#38). Our patience was definitely rewarded today!

Back at the dock, another group at the hotel was cleaning their fish from the day. It was so fun to see the sharks coming to scavenge! There were at least 2 nurse sharks and possibly a bull, along with a ray. After another group dinner we watched DOLPHINS. It was fun to watch the movie with John in the room; we got to ask him questions and hear some stories about the filming! The Bimini dolphins are in the movie – even though the narrator doesn’t tell you.

Until next time,
“Cetacean Nation” (SHU 2014)

PS: Photo to follow! Thanks for your patience!