We departed the dock with sunny skies and, finally, calm seas. Saturday’s trip followed a week of abbreviated and/or cancelled dolphin trips because of the high winds and seas. Although today’s group of passengers was small, we were all eager for dolphins. The first half of the trip was uneventful, but we didn’t stop looking. At about 1730, we saw some very big splashes. Although we were hopeful it might be dolphins, we were prepared for something more unusual because the splashes were not typical for what we see here.
On Thursday morning, we continued to review still photographs of bottlenose dolphins – and we got to check out the video footage collected on Tuesday’s dolphin trip. We sorted more images of Tt15 and suspect that Tt31 may have also been present. In Wednesday’s photographs we all agreed the that distinct individual, whose photograph was included in our last field report, is in fact Tt26. That means that Tt26 has been seen at least once in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
On Wednesday morning, we went through ¾ of the underwater still photos collected during Tuesday’s amazing swim with bottlenose dolphins. Although many of the photographs were more suitable for behavior documentation and not photo-ID, we were able to confirm that Tt15 was in the group! The “Tt” in the ID code stands for “Tursiops truncatus” which is the Latin, or scientific, name for a bottlenose dolphin. We were thrilled to confirm this ID as well as add additional sections of its body to Tt15’s ID files. The afternoon brought dolphin trip #4 of the week.
Monday afternoon’s dolphin trip was bumpy and well, dolphin-free. Although we kept our spirits high and stayed optimistic, we did not see any dolphins. On Tuesday morning, the SCS team had a chance to explore North Bimini, including the small museum. At 1430, we left the dock. We chatted with our captain and prepared ourselves for even choppier seas. But then, seemingly out of nowhere, was a bottlenose dolphin! We became very enthusiastic only to lose sight of the dolphin.
On Sunday morning, three members of the Swiss Cetacean Society arrived in Bimini. After settling into the Sea Crest Hotel & Marina, we left the dock in search of dolphins. It has been very windy here in Bimini so we were not sure how much time we would be able to spend in search of dolphins. About an hour into the boat trip, the participants hopped in the warm sea to test their snorkel gear and practice getting on and off the boat.
The weather kept us back at the dock a bit this week. We did have a dolphin trip on Tuesday, but it was abbreviated because the chop was too severe for this week’s guests to safely get on and off the boat. So, we headed back to the dock hoping Mother Nature would calm down. On Wednesday the conditions were not any better, so it was a computer day. Thankfully, Thursday was significantly calmer so we headed out for the group’s final day. We had to wait awhile, but we did see two older calves/young juveniles.
We departed the Sea Crest Marina Sunday afternoon in the sunshine and heat, ready once again for dolphins. Although we had to wait a bit, we saw them – lots of them. At first we saw Tilly (#87) and some other youngsters. We had two opportunities to see the dolphins under water and there were so many! On the second entry, I counted at least 28! Included in the group, by the end of both swims, we’d seen Tina (#14), Lone Star (#56), Nemo (#76), Speedy (#78), Addie (#84), Tilly (#87) and many others.
A burst of high winds postponed our dolphin trip on Friday, but Saturday sure did work out well! We left the dock at 1530 and headed into calm seas, although there was a ground swell making the boat rock a bit. We were of course keeping our eyes out for dolphins, but it was once again them who found us. At first, we had Tina (#14), Speedy (#78) and Tilly (#87) checking out our bow and surfing in the swells.
This field report is a wrap up for the last of this year’s scheduled dolphin weeks with Bill & Nowdla Keefe’s Wild Dolphin Adventures. We had a small, but enthusiastic group of passengers who, among other qualities, was thankfully very patient. Our first trip was scheduled to be Sunday, but the frequent squalls kept us at the dock. On Monday, we headed into the wind, hoping for some better luck. Unfortunately, a new squall built up and crossed our path, sending us back to the safety of the dock.
We departed the dock Friday afternoon with a full boat of excited passengers. The seas were a bit choppy, but nothing we couldn’t handle. We saw the dolphins fairly early – a group of five relatively young dolphins were ready and willing to ride the bow of the boat. Included in the group were Tina (#14), Addie (#84) and Tilly (#87). Addie is our newest Bimini dolphin to receive a name through DCP’s Name-A-Dolphin program.