Saturday was a (much-deserved) rest day for the DCP researchers. Then on Sunday the next Sea Crest dolphin tour group arrived on Bimini. This group is composed of 14 guests from different parts of the US.
After a morning of catch-up on office stuff, we prepared to head out on the boat with the guests at 1500. As we pulled out of the dock there were ominous storm clouds to the northwest that let out a deep rumble of thunder every once in a while. Despite the threat of a storm, Captain Al knew that these clouds were moving away from Bimini, and the radar did not indicate any more storms, so we decided to head out in search of dolphins anyway.
As it turned out, the radar was not fully accurate, since weather is not 100% predictable (shocking!). After anchoring for about 30 minutes to do a gear check, we spent the next 2 hours driving in large circles in order to dodge the rain and lightning. At one point we had to endure an unavoidable rain shower. All of the erratic weather was worth it, however, because as we made our way back to the harbor Captain Al saw something far in the distance. At about 1830 we came across a group of 17 spotted dolphins! Since it was getting late, we only spent a few minutes watching this group from the boat before deciding to try underwater observations. A small group of guests decided to get in the water while Kel used the MVA and Nicole took still photos. The dolphin group was mostly composed of playful younger dolphins, including Inka (#93), un-named #101, #102 and possibly #105, though Tina (#14) and a few older individuals were also there. We will have to check our photos and video to see who else joined us!
Our encounter lasted about 15 minutes because we had to head home once more. As we started driving, #102 and two other juveniles rode the bow for a few minutes. Suddenly, we saw another group of at least 15 spotted dolphins and 2 bottlenose just ahead of us. This group only joined the boat for a moment before continuing on their way. But two dolphins stuck around to ride the bow. They turned out to be Swoosh (#36) and a calf! After they left us we focused on getting back to the harbor. But we had a nice send off from another calf who came leaping over from the west! This dolphin did not stick around but it was wonderful to watch it for the brief moment.
We got back to the dock a bit late but in high spirits. What will tomorrow bring for this new guest group?
“Sea” you tomorrow!
Nicole & Kel