Monday was a busy day! While Kel prepped for the boat trip, Nicole departed Connecticut and met Kathleen at Fort Lauderdale International Airport. The wind continued to make for challenging dolphin searching, but Kathleen & Nicole still arrived on Bimini reasonably on time (despite an unruly passenger and an aborted landing!). At sea, it was more searching (and searching). But, we didn’t have to wait too long before coming upon a group of bottlenose dolphins. They were on the move, but then periodically, they would stop, dive to the sea floor and, it seemed, investigate the sand for a good crater feeding patch. They never settled on one, so we’ll have to settle for lots of surface photos. At about 1330, we came upon more bottlenose dolphins! It is amazing how we can go several weeks without seeing bottlenose dolphins – but for the last week plus, they seem to be everywhere!
On Tuesday, Kel and Kathleen both joined The Giants team. It’s rare for us to have a dolphin trip together and we were excited! There was a lone bottlenose dolphin early in the day, but after that it was search, search, search.
On Wednesday, Kathleen & Nicole awoke with some threatening rain clouds in the sky. Fortunately, the rain did not prevent Kathleen from meeting up with the film crew to discuss her research and to provide some context for the dolphins of Bimini. Luckily, the showers cleared up by 1 pm when we were headed to the boat. The trip began with some scene-setting shots of the boat and crew before we set off on our usual course. The water was very calm and there was little wind, in stark contrast to our trips earlier in the week.
Only 40 minutes into our search we came across another dolphin swim boat with a group of bottlenose dolphins that seemed to be crater feeding. Captain Al wished them well as we passed and continued our search. Only 10 minutes later we found a group of about 6 bottlenose dolphins. The film crew was able to jump in with these dolphins for a couple of short encounters and underwater observations. Throughout the next 3 hours we stayed in this area as the initial group of 6 grew to about 16 individuals. The crew was able to collect wonderful observations of the bottlenose dolphins as they were crater feeding and interacting with one another. Kathleen was also able to collect some underwater data for DCP! She observed a mother-calf pair for quite a while! We were all amazed and thankful that the dolphins seemed calm and willing to let us hang out and observe them.
Once the underwater camera batteries were drained and the memory cards filled everyone piled back on the boat for some boat-based interviews. We headed back to the dock in much higher spirits than earlier in the week. We hope our luck continues tomorrow!
Nicole, Kathleen & Kel