This week I had the pleasure of joining Bimini Undersea staff aboard the newly rebuilt, ‘Adventurer.’ Adventurer is a fantastic, workhorse of a boat who has served Bimini Undersea well over the years. This year meant a complete overhaul of the ol’ girl and she looks and rides fantastically! Although we did not see any dolphins on last Saturday’s trip, we did have the pleasure of observing two groups of bottlenose dolphin on Thursday.
Monday brought with it a last minute dolphin trip. As I waited on the dock for Bimini Undersea, I saw the rain clouds creeping in. Sure enough there was a shower, but it did nothing more than delay us. Soon we were departing the harbor under sunny skies. We did not have to wait too long and there they were – dolphins splashing in the distance. As we got closer we realized we were watching bottlenose dolphins.
The winds have not really let up here in Bimini, but thankfully, dolphins like big seas! On Monday we headed out early, for a snorkel stop and lunch aboard the boat. We weren’t sure if we would see any dolphins, given the conditions, but we did get to watch some bottlenose dolphins from the boat. Tuesday followed a similar pattern, but included even more dolphins! We saw bottlenose dolphins on and off throughout the day, including this mother/calf pair.
Sunday marked the start of an October dolphin week with Sea Crest Hotel & Marina. Although the winds were stronger than we would have liked, everyone was excited and happy to be in Bimini. We began with a brief snorkel stop and as soon as the anchor was set, we were greeted by a friendly young green turtle. Everyone was careful and respectful (no chasing, no touching) as we enjoyed the close views of this little ‘guy.’ About halfway through our search for dolphins, a passenger’s bag fell overboard. We stopped the boat and maneuvered to recovery it.
Saturday began a late season dolphin week with Bimini Undersea. I joined the group and very much enjoyed our conversations throughout the trip (thank you!). The guests took an early swim break, marveling at the ‘Bimini blue’ shade of the ocean. Not long after, we saw dolphins! At first we just saw two calves, but we were alert, looking for their mothers. Sure enough we saw them as the two (presumably) mother/calf pairs came together.
On Sunday afternoon, I departed Sea Crest Hotel & Marina to redeploy Wildlife Acoustics’ SM2M passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) device. After getting our hands on this nifty gadget (thank you Wildlife Acoustics!) our first Bimini deployment was in July. The unit recorded successfully (phew!) and after taking a quick peek at the data, we made a few minor adjustments and waited for another chance to put it back at sea.
So, I had been wondering when we would get on the ocean after the outskirts of Hurricane Irene passed through. But, thankfully, Bimini Undersea got a trip together on Saturday! I very much enjoyed my time with the day’s passengers – and of course, the dolphins.
We departed feeling a bit uncertain about the weather. A few squalls had passed through earlier in the day and yesterday afternoon included a fierce thunderstorm.
Tuesday’s dolphin trip departed shortly after 14:00 and almost immediately we were in the midst of a group of 5 bottlenose dolphins. They were traveling south and there seemed to be a similar sized group keeping pace just to the west. We were given a rare treat with the bottlenose occasionally bowriding! At one point, the main group suddenly interrupted their travel for some activity at the surface. It gave us a chance to see one individual’s very distinct fluke (pictured here).
On Sunday, we headed in search of dolphins and although the seas were a bit choppy, we were sure the enthusiasm of our mother/son passengers would bring a great day of dolphins. Unfortunately, we were all left a bit disappointed!
Monday’s trip began with a snorkel stop at “The Bimini Road” (aka “Atlantis”). Soon, we were in search of dolphins – and we searched, and searched, and searched. Thankfully, spirits remained high and we saw them at the last moment (which is beginning to seem like a theme!).
Thursday began with the second morning trip of the week. I joined the small group with high hopes of another morning success. Unfortunately, we searched, and searched…and searched, but found no dolphins. After a quick lunch, a squall came through and delayed our afternoon departure. Luckily we were able to head out shortly after 16:00. It was the 7th trip in five days, so although I was a little tired, I was still eager for dolphins. It was a lot of searching that ended in an 11th hour sighting.