Trip #4 for 2001 Bill Sperling, DCP's Research Associate, arrived on Saturday (8/25/01) to greet the volunteers for our last research trip of this season. John and I were delayed a day for family reasons (my sister's wedding). Luckily we had been able to leave all our gear on the boat and traveled lightly with only three carry-on bags. Everything went smoothly – we even were able to catch an earlier than planned flight to Freeport and meet the boat two hours ahead of schedule at West End.
25 – 31 August 2001 is DCP's last trip for 2001 As with last week, we will be posting our daily updates from Trip #4 at the end of the week. Likely, we will post the updates on or near to 1 September. We do not have access to a phone while out to sea. We appreciate your patience with us with this slight delay in posting our reports. Since my sister is getting married this week, I won't be checking email after posting this note. I will resume email checking and replying in early September.
Report # 16 We had exceptional weather this week with winds less than 3 knots and glassy calm seas; only on Saturday and Sunday the wind speed picked up to 7-10 knots during the survey hours and produced a light chop of 1-2 foot waves. Seven afternoon survey trips were conducted this week and four of these surveys resulted in dolphin sightings. The number of dolphins in the sightings and encounters varied greatly; group sizes ranged from 4-25 individuals and all groups were found to include dolphins of all age classes.
In a word … AWESOME! Here is the summary for this week, Trip #3 for DCP's data collection in our study of the communication and behavior among Atlantic spotted dolphins north of Grand Bahama Island. We had 22 spotted dolphin sightings, 8 bottlenose dolphin sightings and 7 'other' sightings (including a few sharks, the manta ray, boobie bird and a pelican!). The number of dolphins in a group per sighting or encounter ranged from 1 to 39. We had 12 encounters and 14 short encounters (between 30 and 179 seconds long).
Last day at Sea for Trip #3 It is easy to tell the difference between sharks and dolphins – the former don't come to the surface to breathe! Actually, the nurse shark was not interested in us. A few of us were snorkeling and checking out the seagrass bottom … which was quite different from the white sand of our previous anchorage. Here, there were lots of conch and helmet shells as well as sand dollars and seabiscuits. A nice change from the stark landscape of the northern area of our study site.
We could not have asked for better weather … or more dolphins. The morning was rather slow where dolphin sightings were concerned. Only two bottlenose dolphins seen. And we saw them again, about 30 minutes after the first observation, when we hauled anchor to search from a moving boat. It seemed like a mother/calf pair with the larger dolphin having a distinctive scar on the dorsal side of the peduncle (tail stock). It was a healed shark bit. This dolphin also had lost the left pectoral fin and half of the right one. But she swam well.
39 spotted dolphins rough-housing (sort of) We began the day with no dolphins but had a sighting of a seemingly large group (announced to us by another research boat about 3.5 miles north of us) slowly moving to the SW. We hopped into the dinghy to see for ourselves. We radioed to the other boat asking permission to approach within a half mile. There are only a few boats out here now observing the dolphins but it is etiquette to remain outside a half mile unless permission is granted. All was okay.
… with dolphins and weather. What was most special to me on this day was that we saw and swam with #39 (Doubledot) and #78 (Hook). I first met these two dolphins in the early 1990's and saw them with their first calves a couple of years ago. It was such a pleasure to see them again … with their juveniles. We actually had our longest encounter of this trip (so far) with these two mother/calf pairs: 37 minutes! And 25 minutes of video recorded of their interactions.
Early morning departure We all had a good snorkel while the main boat took on fuel. And, by 10:30 am we resumed our course north. Within an hour we had a few bottlenose dolphins bowriding. What a sight to see! Like a welcoming party. And soon after we had a few spotted dolphins that allowed… Continue reading Dolphins everywhere
Day 1 of Trip #3 Final details are attended to in preparation of passenger arrival. The boat is ready. We pulled out and assembled the last pieces of our research gear. I put the array together mostly. It was in storage in a pelican case in the hold while we were in Japan and the USA. I left the o-rings out and the camera out. I want to teach the coming volunteer researchers (i.e., passengers) how my array is assembled and used.