A once in a lifetime kind of day!

 Thursday did not start out like any other, nor did it end like one. Kel and Alexis said goodbye to Lauren as she headed back to the States. We were sad to see her go, but had to refocus for our boat trip in the afternoon. We left at 15:00 with our, literal, boatload of Hunter College students. Fairly early on we ran into 3 bottlenose dolphins traveling north. We stayed with the bottlenose for a bit, but then continued in hopes of more dolphins! About an hour later we spotted a small group of roughly 6 spotted dolphins, including a young sub-adult that we have been trying to get images of all summer. They hoped on our bow and started quickly travelling northeast. We kept following and following them as they never seemed to slow their pace. Off in the distance we started to notice what looked to be like a lot of splashing – there was so much activity at the surface, it almost looked like an active boat wake, with no boat. The closer we got, we realized there were TONS of dolphins ahead of us and our 6 bow riders were leading us straight to them! Soon enough we had dolphins everywhere; so many in fact that we couldn’t keep count! At one point there were probably anywhere from 50-75 dolphins scattered about leaping out of the water (including Tim, #69, pictured here), porpoising along the surface, and chasing (and catching) fish in every direction! Even a bottlenose (or more?) joined the group! There were so many dolphins and so much excitement in the water you didn’t even know where to look! Because these large groups are so unusual for this area, we do not have a tested method for estimating group size. But, Kel and our captains agreed it was the largest, most active group they’d ever seen. Eventually Kel slid into the water, with the guests, to try to get underwater video and still photos. They had 3 encounters with varying individuals. The number of dolphins had lessened but there were still many scattered about. From the boat, Alexis recognized Romeo (#10) with a group of about 5 other spotteds. It started getting pretty late, and we were a ways from the island, not to mention the very dark cloud with lightening was looming in the distance and moving our way, so we got everyone back on the boat and headed toward home. Quickly dolphins came back to our bow and stayed with us for some of the ride home. Leslie (#80) and her calf (unnamed #99) and Inka (#93) were among them. After about 10 minutes they left us and we continued on, full steam ahead, to Bimini.
Today was an amazing day; one that was filled so many dolphins, behaving in a way that is very unusual around here. Although we came home with more questions than answers about which dolphins were present, what brought them together and what exactly they were doing, it was beyond exciting for us to be able to have witnessed something so rare!
All the best,
Alexis & Kel