02 June 2018

We have a breach!

243

The weather is warm and sunny as I head to the Sea Crest to meet up with the rest of the group.  It looks like today will be the day we help the beach get a little cleaner.  I arrive at the suite with the smell of cinnamon bagels in the air.  Good mornings are exchanged as I grab a seat as we wait for the rest of the group to join us.  After Kel gives a quick briefing we head out to the beach.  Once we arrive at the beach outside CJs, we grab gloves and bags and start the collection process.  We split into two groups to comb the beach.  I go through the collection of beach matter and sort out what does not belong.  I grab big and small items and toss them into the quickly filling with straws, plastic and Styrofoam.  It is looking much better now.  As my bag is almost full I double back picking up anything that I missed along the way.  I grab another bag and start on the other side.  You can definitely feel the heat of the sun today as sweat starts running down my brow.  I start the other side and I am pleasantly surprised to find little cleanup to do.  The beach is actually looking better than what I remember during my last beach cleanup in 2014 (during the awesome DCP field course with SHU).  The bags fill up as we look to each other satisfied with our results.  We tie off the bags and get them ready for proper disposal.  Now that our morning task is completed and we have left the beach better than we found it, we disburse to get back to our plans for the day before our last afternoon boat session.

I go get some work done and time quickly passes as it gets closer to our boat outings.  I meet the group at the dock as we are ready for our trip for the day.  We proceed to board and release from the dock as we head out to our first stop of the day.  Today we are heading towards the snorkel stop, Three Sisters. We arrive at the stop without an event and proceed to the water after we are briefed.  During the snorkel session I see a giant rainbow parrotfish, big eyed john, and a flounder that was blending in quite well.  After everyone had gotten there fill for the site we boarded the boat hoping to see some dolphins today.

We cruised the sea hoping to see some familiar dorsal fins as we chatted amongst ourselves.  Some action is spotted in the distance.  It appears that we have some breaching dolphins!  We continue course looking to the horizon for more splashes.  I have my camera out and ready hoping to catch a shot of the action.  I capture a photo of a breach however the distance is too great to discern any detail.  We keep our heading towards the splashes.  We arrive to find no signs of dolphins.  We monitor the area for a while but with nothing in sight so we continue to search elsewhere.

After a short while we come across some movement.  It appears we have found our treasure for the day.  There are bottlenose dolphins all around.  I start snapping photos of every dolphin I can see.  We observe their behavior and they seem to be staying in the area.  We decide to get in the water and see if they stick around as bottlenose seem to be less curious of us humans.  We slip into the water and observe and record their behavior.  They seem to be foraging for food as they dive down making some noise and rustle up the sand.  This is very similar behavior to what I saw back in 2014.  The water clarity is less than ideal so I dive down a little to get some photos.  They do not seem to mind us as we swim around them trying to observe as much as possible.  After a little while they leave us.  We wait for the all clear signal and then board the boat.

As it is getting later in the day we head back to the docks to find some spotted dolphins breaching the surface in the distance.  We get closer and they seem to be chasing fish near the shore.  Due to the time we could not stay long and continued to the docks.  Once we were settled in the slip we left to go our separate ways knowing we had one final trip in the morning.

Until the AM,

J.P.

Kelly Melillo Sweeting

Kel is DCP's Bimini Research Manager, and all around awesome scientist.

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