Less than an hour our, we came upon 4 dolphins, being joined shortly after by ten or so more, and everybody wanted to play. The group was extremely vocal, making some intense pulsed sounds and blowing bubbles at us, circle swimming and chasing each other and having a grand old time. We saw Swoosh, Split jaw, Underbite, Big C, Chop Fin, White Blotch, #17, #12, and whole bunch more (we still need to pour over that video).
Though a bit calmer today than the past few days, we still had a hard time finding dolphins. Came across some bottlenose that weren't too interested in us at all, then a mother-calf pair who stuck around the boat for a bit but really wanted nothing to do with the people.
Just as we were heading home, there they were, a big group of adults chasing a school of fish mercilessly. Dives and jumps and such, and very focused on the fish, not on us, not even on the boat.
An hour into the trip, thankfully, we were approached by two young calves riding the five foot swells and our bow wake. A bottlenose joined them briefly but then took off, and the moms came out to keep any eye on the little ones. Our first attempt in the water was not welcomed by moms, but after bribing them with bow rides, we were able to join all four of them for over a half an hour.
The moms appeared to be teaching the calves how to feed by echolocating on the sand and burrowing for the catch.
Another late night the other day. Had some in and out encounters and some strong currents, but on the final entry we were able to spend some quality time with Cleopatra (#41) and Juliette (#12). They hung out with us for twenty minutes or so, foraging and playing and just milling around. At one point they both went after one of the passenger's fins, which we got a kick out of. We reluctantly left them when we ran out of daylight.
After a few brief sightings and some frustration among the passengers, we finally encountered dolphins around 7:30. It was a mixed group, fairly large, with some rambunctious calves messing around. From the boat, we observed a lot of tail slapping and leaps. From underwater, we observed one juvenile repeatedly fluke slapping another juvenile, with a nonplayful implication. In fact, one of the group leaders was accidentally whacked by a rogue tail in the melee.
We wandered into deeper water with the dolphins and the group became interspecied and included over 15 animals.
Today's trip included a snorkel stop at Atlantis but before we even got there we found ourselves beside a large group of bottlenose that more or less ignored us. We maintained visual on them during the snorkel stop and caught up with what we believe was the same group after we were done with our snorkel but they still wanted nothing to do with us. We took the hint and moved on.
A half hour later we came across four more bottlenose dolphins who engaged in some fancy acrobatics.
Every new group of passengers is briefed on the dolphins and informed about how to swim with them before the start of each trip. The policies of no touch and no chasing are stressed, and passengers are always receptive to this. This group was no exception. The AM group consisted of a whole bunch of kids and their parents, along with two friends from back home, all equally eager to swim with dolphins.
After two hours of searching we caught some spotteds on our bow, 4 class 2 animals, one with a large scar down his side.
After staring at screens until we thought our eyes were going to fall out of our heads, we seem to have made a bit of a dent in processing data and ID animals. Needing a break from computers and cameras, we headed down to the Villas to talk with the folks on the Dolphinswim program (passengers on the boat for this week). The group was very interested in our work and had some interesting questions and concerns for the dolphins, especially those in other waters that might be in danger of being hunted.
On this tiny little island, there are surprisingly many dolphin boats. As we got out to the dolphin grounds, we saw that all four were out in full force, many already with dolphins. It wasn't until 3 hours into our trip that we were able to find some of our own.
This was a group of 6 dolphins initially, only 3 of which stuck around including one rambunctious little calf. Our suspicions are that the adult was one called Ebony, but our ID photos are a bit limited for this animal so we aren't sure.
Trip 17 brought some interesting observations, though not much in the way of video. First a group bottlenose about ten minutes after leaving the dock, in the same place we'd seen the spotteds in the shallows the night before. Though not very interested in the boat, they let us follow them for a while, watching them feed.
Out on the dolphin grounds, we came across a group of 4 young, unmarked spotted calves and one adult, in a babysitting situation.