Harold the manatee is still here, plus we got a winter glimpse of several bottlenose, White Blotch (#029), her 4-year old calf and….a brand new neonate!! When dolphins are first born, their dorsal fins are folded across their backs, their flukes are folded and they have creases along their body called fetal folds. On Monday’s dolphin trip, we were lucky enough to get a glimpse of a neonate whose dorsal fin was still curved completed across its back.
On Tuesday, we were able to track the animal by its radio tag to a canal on South Bimini. This tag offers information that we would otherwise be without – it is very exciting! Harold was feeding on the sea grass halodule. The USGS biologist was able to adjust the tag so that it fits the animal better.
Well, I guess more accurately DCP is assisting with and observing manatee research. What a treat! The Bimini Manatee (“Harold” for now) is still in the area. A biologist from US Geological Survey has kindly come to Bimini to increase our research efforts. The manatee was a no-show on Thursday, Friday & Saturday, which had us wondering if he was gone for good.
I don’t have much new to report on the status of Bimini’s manatee, but I hope you all enjoy the newest photo (taken on Thursday by G. Johnson). The manatee continues to spend part of its day at Sea Crest Hotel & Marina. Representatives from the Miami SeaQuarium’s manatee rescue program were kind of enough to pay us a visit to better assess the manatee’s condition. We continue to pursue options for a possible rescue & transport – more details on that soon.
The Bimini manatee is still being observed periodically throughout the day. It does not appear to be in poor health, however Bimini is not considered suitable habitat for manatees. We’ve been in discussions with the US Fish & Wildlife Service as well as the Bahamas Department of Marine Resources. FWS has been giving advice on what to look for and how to act around the animal. Here, you can see the animal drinking freshwater from a hose. Please note that we have only given this wild animal fresh water at the recommendation of knowledgeable manatee biologists.
You weren’t sure if you should believe my manatee story yesterday, were you? Well, the manatee was again sighted, this time it was closer and there were more witnesses. It does not appear to be injured or in distress, despite being clearly off course. We’ve been advised by Florida Fish & Wildlife to keep a close eye (when it’s around) and not to give it food or water.
As I searched through the binoculars, I wanted to catch a glimpse of a breath. I waited. And waited. And then, out came the muzzle and a breath! I grabbed my “snappy” camera & the binoculars & headed outside. I was able to capture this photo – not the greatest, but I swear, it's a manatee. I followed the animal as it slowly maneuvering rocks & turned northeast through "the native cut." I kept my eye on it (and the boats that were approaching) as it headed toward the entrance to the harbor.
The weather in Bimini has finally calmed down from the run of nearby tropical storms & hurricanes. Bimini, thankfully, has avoided a direct hit, but the strong winds and swells have left the water extremely murky. Visibility in some places has declined to less than 15 feet.
Kelly here, reporting from Bimini. I’ve had a few concerned emails sent my way lately, so I just wanted to let everyone know that the folks on Bimini (myself included) are doing all the necessary precautions as hurricane season is in full force. We were lucky to have only a bit of rain as Gustav headed up the Gulf of Mexico, some wind & rain as Hanna stayed to the east and now it is looking like Ike will miss us all together and Josephine has fallen apart. So, we may be in the clear for the moment.
As for spotted dolphins, between Saturday & Sunday, we saw Buster (#04), Finn (#09), Romeo (#10), Lumpy (#17), Split Jaw (#22), White Blotch (#29 – with “Lil’ Dot?”), Lone Star (#56, with calf), Billy (#64) and un-named #25 (with calf), #57 (with calf?) and #84. On Saturday there were so many dolphins scattered about (some mating, some feeding, some traveling) that was near impossible to tell if there were 20 (minimum) or possibly as many as 50 dolphins in the area! It was unlike anything I had ever seen here in Bimini.