On Thursday, we woke up, had breakfast and wrote our blog, before watching a video and practicing using an ethogram. We had a lecture on play and then our morning break. Some of us went to the straw market and others got ready for lunch. Casey is our resident hair stylist, specializing in a-mazing braids that are perfect for snorkeling. What would we do without her? (Be very frustrated!). We returned for lunch and boat prep.
The boat departed at 14:30 today so that we could snorkel the Bimini Road, aka The Road to Atlantis. We saw some cool, colorful fish and lots of lobsters. Some of us could dive to the bottom, but others felt their heads might explode! Many of us think it does have enough design to suggest that it is human-made, others think it could be Atlantis – and some of think they are just some really nice rocks! Before we headed in search of the dolphins, two of us braved the seas once more in order to retrieve two pieces of plastic garbage. Then, it was time to search for dolphins…
To our luck, we traveled a bit, but did not have to wait long before we saw a scattered group of Atlantic spotted dolphins, which included Tim (#69) and possibly Cerra (#38). The maybe-Cerra was whistling up a storm, and we could easily hear these sounds from the bow. When this group split apart, we chose to follow Lil’ Jess (#35) and her calf. Half of our group got in the water, but Lil’ Jess wasn’t there! Instead we saw two juveniles (one checked out Kel and the MVA!), then an adult and a trio of dolphins cruised past us. We got back on the boat, caught up to Lil’ Jess again and the second half of us got to hop in the water. With Nicole recording with the MVA, we saw Lil’ Jess and her calf searching for something in the sand. Lil’ Jess bolted so quickly we thought she was swimming away, but really she was scanning the sand and then using her rostrum to circle in the sand. Hearing her echolocation was so cool!
We got back on the boat wondering if that would be all the dolphins for the day – and even if it was, we were thrilled! Still, we had plenty of time, so we continued our search. And then. There. They. Were. Captain Kat said it was “a crapload of dolphins.” There were at least 16 dolphins and they were all over the place. Now, we were running out of time, so our surface observations were short so that we could test out a swim. Mind explosion – “holy calf!” We saw juvenile dolphins swimming belly to belly and wondered if this was general bonding or a mating attempt. There was a calf putting its melon to an older dolphin’s genitals – was this a calf trying to nurse from its mom? We saw some head ramming, but it was fairly gentle and followed by body rubbing. Their movements were so graceful, at one point, two dolphins were vertical in the water and formed a heart! One of the young adults went down to the sand and just laid there, nearly perfectly still, slowly rubbing its fluke into the sand. Other dolphins eventually swam down to her and she rejoined the group. At one point, one of the adults swam by Veronica, following her with its eye. The dolphins swam off so captains and Kel looked at the time and we decided to head back to the boat. But no. The dolphins came back and we got to observe them for even longer! When we finally did get back on the boat and headed toward home, three dolphins were riding the bow. One kept corkscrewing and riding with her belly up – and sure enough, Kel told us that this dolphin looked a lot like Noodle (#94). We need to confirm this with photo-ID, but if it is Noodle, it seems she in fact did not give up this silliness from her younger years!
Back on land, we cleaned up and had pizza from Sara Lee! We really enjoyed our taste of local cuisine – we wish we could give her a big group hug! It was so filling…Tyler says 5 was a bad choice, but Dom enjoyed his 7. Or was it 8? (Don’t worry everyone, they were small slices!).
We really enjoyed looking at all the photos we collected today. There are so many photos and then, when we realized that we could actually hear the dolphins’ whistles, our excitement went through the roof, much to Dr. M’s amusement.
The Podfia (EKU 2016)