Report # 14 Yet another tropical wave made its way over Bimini on Tuesday bringing much rain, lightning and wind for the rest of the week. Out of seven trips scheduled for this week only Wednesday's trip was cancelled due to unsafe weather conditions. Wave height and wind speeds varied much over the week, ranging between 1- 4 foot waves and wind speeds 3-15 knots. Out of the six survey trips conducted only one resulted in no sightings.
Swimming with Bottlenose Dolphins … out here! Our last day at sea began with two bottlenose dolphins swimming by the boat at 6:47 am. Only Bill, Peppie and I were awake. A welcome good morning to all of us. We did see a few spotted dolphins further up north as we traveled, but they were not interested in us. Later in the day, we had our first 10 minute encounter with 22 bottlenose dolphins! They rode our bow and then stayed just on our visual periphery under water. But, they seemed a bit curious about us.
Begin with bottlenose, then with spotteds. It was an amazing day! I felt as though the dolphins were welcoming me home. I know that sounds corny and quite non-scientific, but that is what I felt. We saw our first dolphins of the day at about 10:30 AM … bottlenose riding the bow. Then a group of 9 to 12 spotted dolphins at 10:48. They were playful and bowriding as we donned our snorkel gear. The swells were a bit high and we had to take care getting into the water and then returning to the boat.
Report # 17 The weather was excellent again this past week with wave heights not greater than one foot and winds below 3 knots. Showers and thunderstorms were present from Monday through Wednesday making the sky overcast during the survey hours. This week, the air temperature and humidity have been the highest for this summer season. Seven survey trips were conducted this week (one each day) during afternoon hours. We had sightings on all survey trips except for Monday´s trip.
Any day we see dolphins is a good day. Here is the summary for Trip #4 for DCP's data collection in our study of the communication and behavior among Atlantic spotted dolphins north of Grand Bahama Island. We had 12 spotted dolphin sightings, 4 bottlenose dolphin sightings and 8 'other' sightings (including several sharks). The number of dolphins in a group per sighting or encounter ranged from 1 to 18. We had 7 encounters and 10 short encounters.
Final packing and prep to return home. It always amazes me how much stuff we can fit into a bag when leaving for a trip (for vacation or other reasons). And how small that same bag has become when trying to repack for the trip home. I am no exception in this predicament. However, everyone managed. John and I had four large pelican cases with gear to check. Clothing provides a great cushion around fragile housings and other gear. Bill and I spoke with Peppie and have the dates for next summer (2002) preliminarily set.
… and the 2001 Field Season. We had a good night and a sky filled with stars. The swell was not great (compared with farther north) and made for easy sleeping. Everyone took a morning snorkel and looked for conch, lobster (season opened 1 August) and anything else living among the grass. Watches continued, of course, with swims rotating around watch times. We hauled anchor at about 10 AM and headed north to search for dolphins. We had a mother/calf pair of bottlenose dolphins come to the bow briefly.
A day filled with sightings, though not exactly what we hoped for The wind and swell increased during the night. Squalls again made their appearance giving the deck a good rinsing. The morning brought numerous whitecaps that covered the sea surface making looking for dolphins difficult. We did a dinghy search trying to locate some dolphins and saw only 2 bottlenose dolphins that were more interested in their morning meal than us. Can't really blame them. One volunteer, John, and Peppie saw distinct splashing at the edge of the ridge nearer to deeper water.
Dolphin Style! … the call assured that everyone was awake and donning gear for a snorkel. Peppie had the dinghy ready so we did not have to stay close to our anchored main vessel. The current was not that strong but having the freedom to go with the dolphins was great. This encounter was with 7 spotted dolphins and lasted for an hour and 5 minutes! A great way to start any day. And, even better, we recognized some of the dolphins. A few were very young juveniles we'd seen earlier this summer.
We resume our trip north. The seas were still rough and at the limit of our ability, safety, and tolerance for entering the water to observe dolphins under water. The morning did not actually 'dawn', rather it seemed to slip into focus through the clouds and flashes of light. We hauled anchor around 10 AM and headed north. Five minutes after the rain stopped we saw dolphins – had them riding our bow. We saw 8 adults including #25 (Spade) and #60 (Sadie). Sadie is very pregnant.