We are thrilled to welcome Tori to the Bimini field team! Tori is one of three summer field interns (Patrick & Kaiya arrive tomorrow). Keep reading for Tori’s first impressions and stay tuned for lots of updates from the interns!
-Kel & Nicole
What can I say? My arrival on Bimini on Sunday was an incredible way to kick off the summer of 2017 with DCP! After months of planning, coordinating, and communication, I was finally able to meet Kel and Nicole in person, and hit the ground running, for what I know is going to be an incredibly productive summer. After some mid-morning connections, and a run down of the accommodations, Nicole and I shared a quick bike ride down to the Sea Crest for a brief introduction to Captain Al‘s boat, the “Renegade,” otherwise known as the “Hatteras” (since she went years without her name painted on!). After that, it was back to Kel’s for a welcoming lunch with my new DCP associates, and before I knew it, I was in my bathing suit and packing my bag for the afternoon boat trip leaving at 1500.
Back to the Sea Crest we go! Once onboard the Hatteras, Kel walked me through a thorough orientation, including boat safety procedures, as well as my new responsibilities as a DCP Field Intern. At last we were able to join the Bimini Adventures guests on their excursion, cast off the lines, and let Captain Al and Captain Audley take us out in to this picture-perfect, Bahamian day to begin the day’s search for dolphins! About 45 minutes in, while Nicole was walking me through how to fill out the “sighting sheets,” and prepping me on use of the GPS, suddenly there appeared to be dolphins off the bow, (Stenella frontalis) and the effort began to gear up and get in the water. In a flurry of masks, fins, and eagerness, 13 of us slipped into the crystal clear water for my very first dolphin encounter.
Words cannot adequately describe the feeling one has, when swimming alongside these magnificent animals. Having spent the better part of the last eight months watching footage of them for the purpose of analyzing the data for research, it was truly mesmerizing to finally witness them in the flesh. And witness we did! In the crystal clear water, there appeared to be a wide range of social behaviors exhibited by the spotteds, including fin contacts, body contacts, and foraging behavior. And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, guess who should make an appearance? None other than DCP favorites, Romeo (#10) and Noodle (#94), each accompanied by a calf. Camera in hand, while this group of five spotted dolphins swam amongst us (there was a juvenile with the mom/calf pairs), I snapped pictures to aid in identification, and as quick as they appeared, they were gone. We made our way back to the boat, and elated, I could only smile and revel in the thought of what amazing adventures lie ahead for myself and the other DCP interns once they arrive tomorrow!