Friday was an exceptional day. Mathew began his day with a trip to the grocery store, to save himself from the past four days of ramen. Good thing the store had bread so he can make toast! Garion and Nicole also took advantage of the recent grocery delivery (the barge only comes to Bimini once a week!) and picked up some fresh produce. The rest of the morning was spent working on sighting sheets, sorting through photos and uploading photos from Thursday’s boat trip.
Friday’s boat left a bit early and began with a snorkel stop at Three Sisters. Mathew, Garion and the students and saw many interesting things, including many sea fans and a resting juvenile nurse shark. After everyone had made it back to the boat, we began our search for dolphins. Only thirty minutes into our survey we came across a group of five bottlenose dolphins! While Nicole stayed on the boat to take surface pictures and Mathew joined her to record data, Kel, Dr. Kaplan, Dr. Maust-Mohl and Garion got in the water with half of the students to record underwater observations. Just three minutes into the encounter, four more bottlenose joined the group, which, it turned out, was crater feeding (combing the seafloor for fish). They were very much preoccupied with feeding so we were able to observe them for quite a while. We even saw a pair of calves playing with seaweed! The second group of students, and Mathew, were even able to swap with the first and watch the crater feeding, too! Mathew got plenty of videos of their feeding behavior, which made him very happy. He also noted the lack of interacted with the nurse sharks that appeared to be eating the same food as the dolphins.
After leaving this group of bottlenose to their feeding, we continued to search for dolphins. We were very happy when we saw a small group of Atlantic spotted dolphins almost immediately after we left the bottlenose. Some of the students saw one of the spotteds perform a “cartwheel”!!!! Mathew had never thought something like that could happen in the wild but he and Kel saw it from not even five feet away! Garion and Nicole were a bit upset they didn’t get to see it, too. We attempted underwater observations of two dolphins but they seemed to have other plans. Perhaps they had the same idea as us—go home before it became too late. With that we headed back to shore with enough time to watch bull sharks eating the scraps of fish tossed into the harbor by the fishermen at the Sea Crest. What an exciting day, full of sea creatures!
Until next time,
Mathew, Garion, Kel & Nicole