Water spout yields to calm seas

Nat used the word bittersweet in two recent posts – and the feeling applies to Friday as well. A short but strong thunderstorm woke everyone early, but soon I had my kids scooped up and piled on the golf cart. We picked up Nat and her suitcase and dropped her to the water taxi. Her five weeks on Bimini had come to an end and we were all sad to part ways. I share Nat’s hope that this was, in fact, a “see you later….”

I’m so grateful for all of the assistance in the field so far this summer: Master’s student Nicole, Short Field Experience (SFE) interns J.P. and Frankie, returning intern Patrick and, of course, Nat. Interns provide much needed assistance from data collection to primary processing, but I also hope they learn a lot about dolphin research, and themselves, along the way.

So, I headed to the Bimini Adventures trip as the only DCP researcher once again! I chatted with Dr. M and his students and searched the calm seas for dolphins. Soon, Captain Audley pointed out a growing water spout. We all watched as it tried, tried, tried….and succeeded at fully forming! We were close, but not too close, and quite engrossed as we watched its progress. After a few minutes, it fell apart (did it hit the beach?) and we turned our attention to the rain ahead which was turning into a nasty squall. We diverted course a couple of times to stay out of the bad weather and soon enough it had rained itself out and we were back on course.

When we found dolphins a short time later, there were two (then three) private boats following them. We gave the other boats plenty of space because too much boat traffic is not good for the dolphins. We were rewarded with two, then eight, then ten, then 13 dolphins! We followed this cruising crew, who were taking occasional breaks to mate, leap and chase each other at the surface, for about 90 minutes. Included throughout the day were Vee (#101) and Tim (#69), who spent lots of affectionate time together, Tina (#14) and her calf, Split Jaw (#22), Inka (#93), possibly Buster (#04) and several others that I hope to ID from surface photos.

On the ride home we saw some more spotted dolphins out of the corners of our eyes, but with sunset approaching, we continued back to the Sea Crest. So many dolphin sightings this year! If this all sounds like a blast to you, remember, there are still a couple of spaces left on our August 26 – 31 2018 eco-tour. It’s right around the corner and is primed to be an absolutely amazing time!

Until next time,