After two exciting days of bottlenose dolphin encounters, it almost looked as though we’d have to stay inside today; a thunderstorm struck us in the hour before our scheduled boat trip. Magically, the sun came out just in the nick of time, and we headed out on calm seas to search for dolphins. An hour into our trip, at 16:14, we spied three spotted dolphins immediately ahead of us. As we approached, the three adult dolphins raced to ride the wake of our bow. Alexis recognized Split Jaw (#22, pictured here) among them. It was cool to see how much he’d changed since she’d seen him last, and even cooler that she still knew him! As we observed them from the surface, the dolphins stuck close to the boat, appearing to invite us for a swim. We jumped into the water expecting a leisurely encounter with just three dolphins, but once underwater we were delighted to discover a new group of at least 20 spotted dolphins joining us! In an instant we were surrounded by spotted dolphins – yesterday’s wish come true! As we observed them, we saw a lone bottlenose dolphin in their midst, who unsuccessfully tried to mate with a few spotteds (they’d have none of it!). The dolphins were in a playful mood, with one young spotted dolphin even leaping exuberantly into the air during our swim. With such a large group, we had ample chance to observe behavioral interactions. We documented jawing and tail slaps, but also observed dolphins swimming side-by-side with their pectoral fins overlapping as if holding hands. We stayed with this group, which included Prince William (#64) and Speedy (#78), for nearly two hours before the weather finally caught up with us and we were forced to turn in.
Never mind the threatening weather, we’re grateful for a perfect day on (and in) the water!
Amy, Alexis & Kel