Sightings vs. Encounters

A matter of definition. I wanted to take a few words and define 'sightings' and 'encounters' for all of you. A 'SIGHTING' is any time dolphins are seen from the water's surface. That is, we see a single or a group of dolphins and it is a sighting. We note time, number of animals, location, group type, activity of the group, direction of travel and a few other data points. An 'ENCOUNTER' is 3 minutes or more underwater with dolphins in visual range.

A new calf, skittish behavior …

and a tiger shark.Today began with a few dolphins sightings … they were leaping high out of the water and speeding by our bow at about 250 meters from us. Feeding, or so it seemed. Several dolphins engaged in this behavior for about 1-2 hours and paid little mind to us. I was snorkeling with a passenger over a little navigational aid (*see P.S.) that wrecked several years ago when we saw three dolphins.

Actually, we heard them first … many clicks and a few whistles and then we saw #103, Echo come by.

What a Welcome!

We saw dolphins, old friends today.Our morning was slow with no sightings of dolphins. But the afternoon brought us close to four spotted dolphins. A subadult (mottled) class 4 male named Echo (#103) and three juvenile (speckle-bellied) class 3 females. They were very interactive with one another playing with seaweed, broken sponge coral pieces and chasing fish around. They also mimicked some of us in the water and swam very close.

In fact, one of the females and the male rubbed up against me … rubbing me with their melon and then their sides.

Dolphins & …

calmer seas with less windWe woke this morning to less wind and no white caps. A good sign. We traveled the remaining distance north and saw a group of 2 bottleose dolphins that rode with the boat for about ten minutes. They were in front of the bow but not really bowriding. Both had distinctive dorsal fins.

Then about an hour later we saw a single spotted dolphins and within a few minutes the rest of the group … a total of 6 spotted dolphins. All were juvenile – possessing spots only on their bellies.

On our Way

Traveling north and looking for dolphins Today was a wind-filled day. We had north-northwest winds at about 15-20 mph most of the day. The seas were covered with white-caps with a slight swell (~0.5 meters). We passed the western edge of Grand Bahamas Island and I was reminded of past trips – memories of many encounters and many passengers who shared those trips. The oil derrecks just outside Freeport Harbor always look bigger to me when I see them again. I also got to see the revised West End Marina … called Old Bahama Bay now.

Last minute touches

eight passengers arrive, greetings all around My dad always taught us that Together, Everyone Achieves More … notice that the first letters spell TEAM. That's what happens especially on a boat. When we work together we get more done in a shorter time. After preparing the boat for the trip, like getting grocieries and making the berths up, then we focused on getting gear ready and welcoming folks to the Hanky Panky. Yes, I am spending the next four weeks aboard the m/v Hanky Panky.

Travel Day

Getting re-acquainted with the boat and the Bahamas Well, my flight out this morning was a bit delayed which in turn had me sprinting through the airport to catch my flight to Freeport. I made it, but my luggage did not. Okay … it was only a few hours delayed. I can brief a sigh of relief that all is here and tomorrow morning I will be assembling my array. Passengers arrive tomorrow afternoon. For those of you not familiar with the protocol for my data collection in the Bahamas, I am boat-based this summer.

Bahamas’ Preparations

Leaving tomorrow. Well, it is that time again. Bags are packed and plane tickets confirmed. I will be leaving for the Bahamas on a 7:00 AM flight tomorrow. I have watched the weather and so far all looks good. Let's hope it stays that way. My work in the Bahamas on the Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) is similar to what I conducted on the bottlenose dolphins around Mikura Island.