As we headed out into the dolphin grounds on Wednesday you could see clear down to the sea floor. The surface was crystal clear, no wind to make ripples. Perfect weather for sighting dolphins! But they weren't in their usual places. We made the normal run up north, then to the east, and back down south but we couldn't find them! As a last resort we headed west and there they were, just milling about.
Sea conditions were a bit rough today, but the dolphin trip went out anyway. We were greeted by a group of 9 bottlenose dolphins just outside the harbor. We recognized several of them by distinct markings on their dorsal fins. They were completely uninterested in us though, so after watching them from the boat for about ten minutes, we continued north in search of spotteds. Much to our dismay, however, they were no where to be found. But, on the way into the harbor, the same group of bottlenose was still hanging out, crater feeding.
So, moving day went well (we’ll be staying with a friend for a few days) and the dolphin trip went even better! We were able to gather another 30 minutes of video data of some of our “regular” dolphins. In the group today were #14, #48 and her calf #77 and #56 and possibly her new calf! We hadn’t expected #56 to have another calf already, but it looks like it! There was also a bottlenose hanging out with the group.
We woke up on the early side today to start some serious cleaning and taking care of last minute things. Tomorrow we will do our last batch of laundry and take care of things such as the phone and electricity bills.
We then spent the afternoon with the fourth, fifth and sixth graders at the Gateway school.
Well, folks Hurricane Jeanne is here! Running water went out around noon and we lost internet and long distance phone lines for awhile, but electricity and cable stayed on consistently throughout the day and night. There seems to be more rain with Hurricane Jeanne than there had been with Frances, but this one is moving much faster and has a smaller diameter, so it was a breeze compared to Frances! And again, Bimini was very lucky and sustained very little damage relative to the other areas in Jeanne’s path.
Today was our first experience as guest teachers on Bimini. We spoke to over 60 students at the local Catholic school. Things were a little chaotic as it was “fun day,” but we were welcomed by teachers and students alike.
We are still trying to organize visits to the 3 local schools to give a talk about the spotted dolphins. We’ve followed up with the principals, but everyone is still getting settled into the new school year. We have been told that they will be in touch and since they all seem quite excited about the idea, we still have hope that things will come together before we leave. For anyone who has never been to the Bahamas, the term “island time” most certainly applies.
Things are still quiet here on the island, but we did take down half of our window boards, so things are less cave-like. Yesterday we went out on a friend’s boat to see how some of the reefs were holding up after the storms. Water clarity is getting much better and although some of the reefs took a bit of a hit, they are in decent shape. Then today, we spent the day diving some sites a bit south of the island. These reefs appear to be doing just fine.
Well, it looks like Ivan is staying safely west of the island, which means we are taking down our window boards tomorrow! We are sick of living in a cave. Life in the Bahamas should not be this dark!
Since we should be hurricane free for awhile, the boats have been brought back, cleaned up and restocked. Other than that, we’ve just been finishing up video logs and IDs and getting outside as much as possible.
Frances finally left us, but now the radar screens tell us that Hurricane Ivan may be on his way. Although it is too early to tell if it will hit Bimini, it is more serious than Frances because it would come from the southwest, rather than the east as Frances did. This means that the hurricane would travel across very deep waters before hitting the island—a very dangerous scenario.