Puppies, Sharks, and Dolphins. Oh, My!

Tuesday began with…..puppies! Bet you didn’t expect that. We learned that Kel is trained to give vaccinations in between vet clinics, and today was a “pop up” clinic, if you will. There was a 6.5 week old, cuddly, chill puppy for each us to hold while they waited for their shots. They were so quiet and very good as they got their shots. After that, we headed to Bimini SCUBA Center at Bimini Big Game Club with the intent to observe bull sharks from the dock. Upon arrival, we were told that the bulls had not been seen for the last two days and they tend to be very sensitive, leaving the immediate area if another bull shark is killed. So, our working hypothesis is that someone caught and killed a bull shark, causing the others to leave the harbor. Unless some evidence presents itself, we’ll never know for sure, but hopefully they are okay. We were able to see a lot of nurse sharks; it was cool to see how they shared the same space, but compared to the dolphins, they did not visibly, directly interact with each other. They did seem to occasionally try to rub against another if they had a remora to dislodge. We also saw two southern stingrays and a large cushion star. It started to rain, so we went under a cabana and hung out with the dive shop dog, Sampson. He loves coconuts! After the rain, we did one last check for bulls and said goodbye to the nurses.

Back at the Sea Crest, we had a short break. We headed to the straw market for a successful souvenir hunt. We came back and did some photo-ID, with our own photographs. We were able to confirm Paul (#099) and learn more about him. We also matched #111 and #120. This was a great lesson, learning about how many spots can develop in short periods of time and the importance of DCP getting back to data collection as soon as possible.

After lunch we had time to get ready for our 2p boat trip in search of Caribbean reef sharks. Andre had a surprise for us: reef shark teeth, one for each of us! Alas, the weather had other plans. We delayed our departure by an hour and headed in search of dolphins instead of venturing into the squalls for sharks. It wasn’t too long before we came upon the dolphins! It was the trio of youngsters from Sunday – why are they without an adult?!! We watched them from the boat and soon got in the water for a swim. We were able to confirm that the two older dolphins were male and the littlest calf was female. Though not a permanent mark, the older calf (middle sized of the trio) has a white line across his back; so, we know it was the same older calf as our previous sighting. The little calf was again in various mother/calf positions, including nursing position. Sorry little one, not gonna get anything! The middle-sized dolphin was very interactive with sargassum and all three showed us great examples of pectoral fin contact. It was a nice long swim, but when it reached a point that the dolphins were swimming juuuust ahead of us, showing us their flukes, we hopped back on the boat and observed them a bit longer from the surface.

As soon as we took a bite of our granola bars, we saw splashes in the distance. We opted to say goodbye to the young trio and investigate. We were rewarded with Romeo (#010) in a mixed-age group of Atlantic spotted dolphins. We were a little short on time and the dolphins were not on the move, so we hopped, splashlessly, in to have a look. Once in the water, the dolphins were swimming circles between us all, swimming closely to each other and to all of us. Sophia says she says this every time, but during this swim, the dolphins really were so very close to us.  Kel suspects that Romeo is “big up” (pregnant), which is always exciting. The larger group of dolphins split off, leaving us with two juveniles. Once they left, we happily climbed back onboard the boat for the cruise home. We watched the beginning of a beautiful sunset, as three spotteds came to bow ride. We finished the sunset from our back balconies at the Sea Crest. Another lovely day with many surprises and no disappointments after all!

Until tomorrow,

The Final Five (SHU 2022)