04 July 2018

Farewell from Patrick

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Being in Bimini again for a week was definitely a treat. Although shorter than my last two trips, I tried to keep it busy with a few dolphin trips, working with intern Nat, beach trips, and of course, food! If you’ve been keeping up with the blog posts, you read about our great dolphin trips on Monday and Tuesday with Manhattan and Hunter College. These included a roughly 40 minute swim with Lil’ Jess (#35), Romeo (#10), Leslie (#80), Sulphur (#102), and #117, and a few calves and juveniles. They were all so playful and interactive with us! It was so great seeing some familiar dolphin spots and rostrums, before my dolphin trips were finished for the week. While I had planned on taking another dolphin trip on my last day with Neal Watson’s Bimini Scuba Center, it had unfortunately gotten cancelled due to weather. So, two early trips turned out to be my only dolphin encounters for the week and I am thankful that the dolphins cooperated and made them fantastic!

Although my extra dolphin trip got cancelled I got an offer to hop on board for a shark trip with Neal’s crew. I of course accepted, and we headed south past Bimini to the Sapona! This is a popular dive and snorkel spot, but this was a first for me! The popularity of the destination quickly became apparent as we neared the very obvious giant concrete ship that ran aground south of Bimini in 1926. It was completed surrounded by nearly 20 boats, which made for a madhouse in the water. But, the ship is very dilapidated now and makes for an interesting swim. It was surreal to swim through the old rusty ship and see all the life that lives there now, swarming with barracuda, pufferfish, stingrays, and all sorts of coral and tropical fish (pictured above). After the 45 minute swim there, we got aboard and headed to the more familiar Triangle Rock, to jump in the water for the main event with the sharks! They tossed the bait box in and shortly a few sharpnose sharks showed up, a nurse shark lazily swam past, and then the larger reef sharks showed up looking for a bite to eat. They curiously checked out the bait box, the snorkelers and the divers. After our time was up, we hopped out and they fed the sharks from the surface. They are conditioned to eat when smaller, fish-sized objects smack the surface of the water (our captain kindly told us they would not be throwing GoPros to us in the water for the reason!). They took the fish out of the bait box and threw them, forcefully, into the water and they quickly came up to the surface and chowed down, slightly aggressively! It was a very enjoyable last day of my trip.

In the meantime, between the dolphin trips in the beginning, and the shark trip at the end, I spent time snorkeling around the Galant Lady and the rocks around the southern end of North Bimini. I got to spend time training Nat and getting her caught up to speed so she’s prepared to work by herself when I leave (although Kel is right down the road, of course!). I also got to eat at all my favorite Bimini restaurants again, and got to spend some quality time with Kel and her family! I’m always excited to help DCP in any way I can, especially in the water with the dolphins! All in all, it was a great trip made possible by DCP and I am honored that Kel asked me to come back for another summer.

Hopefully I’ll see you again soon,

Patrick

Kelly Melillo Sweeting

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

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