Dolphins and Maya Cay!

We had a quick continental breakfast and then headed over to Bailey’s Cay to make dolphin observations. It was not raining, but the currents were still strong and the wind blowing and underwater visibility was not awesome. Kathleen did get in the water and collected about 5 minutes of video – before the current dictated that she exit … on the other side of the enclosure! We got to see quite a few bellies when the dolphins came over to say hi before Kathleen got in the water. Their curiosity was short-lived as they were into their own socializing.
After observations, we stayed on Bailey’s Cay having an informal discussion about personalities and contact behavior among dolphins. We also got a chance to briefly explore the cay before the trainers arrived and we participated in our first ever dolphin encounter. Seven of us (Hannah, Becky, Jess, Liz, Kianna, Chloe and Gabby) had an encounter with Maury. She was very boisterous and interactive. She fed off of our energy! The trainer let us ask her for a few vocalizations. We each received a hug and kiss and we did so in the strong current! We felt her weight in the hug! The remaining members of our group (Justin, Kendall, Erin, Danielle, Lauren and Sam) met Elli who was doing her own thing in a rather rebellious manner. She would periodically swim off and then return to us. She was fun when with us but we learned quite clearly that dolphins have their own mind!
Our dolphin swim was postponed because of the underwater current. So, we raced by taxi boat from Bailey’s Cay to the bus for a trek to Maya Cay on the south side of Roatan. Maya Cay is the third island in the trio of AKR.
We had a fantastic snorkel just off the cay and saw many of the fish presented in the Fish ID lecture last night. We saw disco fish, barracuda, a small school of squid, lionfish, and an eel. We saw sea fans, sponges and coral, too. The water was relatively warm and the wind was non-existent (we were on the leeward side of the island). After snorkeling, we were wet and chilly but lunch was great – the banana chips were beyond delicious. After lunch, we checked out the replica of the Mayan ruins. It was impressive and there were lots of steps.
We also enjoyed the rescued, rehabilitated animals offered forever homes on Maya Cay. They do a really good job offering enrichment and dynamic enclosures for the variety of animals – including a jaguar, puma, monkeys, etc. Jess, Becky and Kianna got the chance to meet a large male South American sea lion. His name was Ting. He gave great hugs and kisses.
We returned from Maya Cay for a much-needed shower to warm up and rinse off the salt water … and to take a power nap! After this respite, we met in the lobby and reviewed the footage collected this morning. It was interesting to see how the underwater visibility changed when Kathleen moved from one side of the enclosure to another. The audio on the MVA camera was decidedly better than the GoPro footage but both showed the dolphins interacting with each other and checking out Kathleen. With the array, you could hear the really good quality of the sounds. Our observations from the surface were augmented by the underwater footage – the latter gave us a much better understanding of how the dolphins were interacting with each other.
We wrapped up the evening (before dinner) with a presentation by Kathleen about DCP’s research at RIMS over the years as well as their other studies around the globe. Dinner was good, as always. The company was good and the local live band was very entertaining.
Until tomorrow,
Kathleen, Justin and the URI MMPB team