Bullsharks, and Bottlenose, and Spotteds, Oh My!

This past Tuesday was another great day on the island! Frankie has been settling in well as the newest intern and has already grown accustomed to island life (cockroaches and all). We have grown to become quite the intern team, and she has already grasped the ropes of all the data processing, photo sorting, and data entry that goes on behind the scenes at the DCP. On Tuesday we helped Kel give a small presentation/ discussion to the guests at the Sea Crest. They were all so interested in the dolphins that live just off this coast, and they all loved to learn the names of the dolphins we have in the DCP catalog. We listened as Kel explained how to tell a female and male dolphin apart and how to tell how old an individual spotted dolphin is. I love hearing all the presentations because each one reinforces my knowledge on the Atlantic spotted dolphins. It was so great to have such awesome support from these visitors – thank you!

Soon after the presentation, it was time to board the Sea Crest boat for the afternoon boat trip. It was another gorgeous day and the water was just as clear as ever. Even before leaving the marina we saw two bull sharks circling the docks. We knew right then and there that it would be a good day for spotting marine life. Sure enough, as soon as well came out of the harbor we saw a group of over 12 bottlenose dolphins. It was Frankie’s first time seeing the bottlenose dolphins that inhabit Bimini’s seas and she was so excited. I showed her how to use the surface camera to take pictures of the bottlenose dolphins’ dorsal fins. She picked it up right away and was snapping pictures left and right, trying to get a good picture of every individual dolphin in the group.

Later we were both able to have our time swimming with spotted dolphins. Some hours after the bottlenose dolphins we came across a massive group of spotted dolphins. They were in a mating ball, so although they were quite busy, we were able to hop in the water next to them to record underwater observations. As Frankie was in the water for the first and second encounters, I was on the bow trying to count all the dolphins in the area and to see if I could recognize any of the individuals. I was able to find Sulfur’s (#102) dorsal fin as she surfaced for breath. I was also able to count at least 28 dolphins in the area around the boat. It was the largest group of dolphins I have seen so far during the internship! After the encounter was over and it was time for the 3rd encounter, Frankie and I switched off so I could have a turn recording the dolphins underwater and she could have a turn doing surface observations from the bow. Underwater, I was able to spot Split Jaw (#22) and Lil’Jess (#35)! Eventually the dolphins moved on and it was time to head back to the boat and start heading home, but our dolphin adventures were not over just yet. While we were heading home, two young spotted dolphins came for a joy ride and rode the bow of the boat for at least ten minutes! Frankie and I both watched them play and were both shocked to see that they were both calves. We kept looking out into the distance to see if mom was nearby, but there was no other dolphin we could see. Eventually, moms must have called the two young dolphins back and they departed from the bow. Soon enough we were back at the dock and it was time to go back to the cottage for leftovers and some late night data entries. Then it was a quick lights out for Frankie and me after a long, successful day.   


-Nat & Frankie