Wednesday was yet another cloudy, windy, drizzly day but we set off as usual at 1500, hoping our weather luck would change and our dolphin luck would get even better. Sure enough, less than an hour into our trip (and with lighter winds and no rain) we came across a group of 10 Atlantic spotted dolphins! The waves made it difficult to identify individuals from the boat but Nicole saw at least one female that we know from the White Sand Ridge group. After some good surface observations, we decided to try an underwater encounter. We only caught brief looks of the dolphins before they swam out of view. But then Captain Al brought the boat around and with it came a group of 25 spotted dolphins! This group included at least 5 calves in addition to Split Jaw (#22), Lil’ Jess (#35), Prince William (#64), Paul (#99) and a recent addition to our catalog, un-named #108. There is a good chance we will recognize other dolphins once we have a chance to look at the video. We had two short but great encounters with this group before they mysteriously disappeared. Even from the boat we were unable to find them again so we continued on our way in search of more dolphins.
An hour later, just when we were thinking of turning for home, Captain Al got a tip from another dolphin boat operator. Since it was along our route back to the marina, we did as he suggested. When we arrived we could see it was another large group of spotteds and we wondered if it might even be the same ones we had seen earlier. After some time watching them from the boat, we got in the water. This time, it was a group of 21, most of whom were sub-adult or adult males. Nicole recognized a few more adults from the White Sand Ridge group as well as Split Jaw (#22) and Prince William (#64) once again. (She has a feeling Tim (#69) and Speedy (#69) will make an appearance on the video but we will have to wait until we process that data to be sure.) When we returned to the boat after two encounters with this group, Captain Al told us that there had been at least 3 other groups of dolphins in the area while we were in the water! And sure enough, as we made our way home we came across a small group of bottlenose dolphins who rode the bow for a moment before continuing on their travels and we could see at least one group of spotted dolphins a bit farther to the east.
We are so happy that our cloudy day turned into a day full of dolphins! This tourist group has always kept a positive attitude no matter what weather crossed our path, and they never let no-dolphin-days get them down, so we are especially happy they were able to experience the dolphin encounters we had today. Tomorrow will be their last day with us and we hope it will be wonderful, too!
Nicole & Kel