07 July 2019

The Daily Dolphin: I Want to be Where the Dolphins Are

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Monday was our second boat trip with DCP’s eco-tour group, with Bimini Adventures. The day started with our normal routine of waking up with the sun, getting caught up on our office work, and then having a lunch break. It was an exciting day because we finished the office work that was assigned to us upon our first arrival on the island. We really felt a sense of accomplishment when we finished our last video log. We decided to celebrate a little bit and headed to the beach after lunch to cool off in the crystal-clear water. As soon as we were done with our beach trip, we were met with a power outage. Luckily, we were getting ready to head to the dock, with hopes that the power will return when we were at sea.

We boarded Renegade, put all our equipment in the proper place, and helped all the guests board before we were ready to search for our daily dolphins. It was a hot day to be on a boat, and there was no ocean breeze to cool us down (the wind was ~5 kts). It didn’t take us long before we spotted some splashes up ahead. The captain headed straight for the splashes, and we were met with a big group of juveniles, including Paul (#99), and mother-calf pairs. Nat was excited to see them swimming in infant position! The final count was 13 spotted dolphins that seemed to surround the boat. The tricky thing about this group was that they were moving too fast and didn’t seem interested in slowing down for us. There were also several other boats in the area, all trying to swim with the same group of dolphins – not an ideal situation for the dolphins or the boat operators. After waiting patiently for our turn, the group plus Nat geared up and entered the water. Kel had the MVA to record the dolphins, and Nat had my camera to take some new stills of the dolphins. The dolphins split up into two different groups, and soon they were moving too fast for the swimmers to keep up. I was watching everything from a bird’s eye trying to give signals to the people in the water of the location of the dolphins. The swimmers boarded Renegade and stayed ready for another drop.

After the second encounter, it was my turn to head into the water to take pictures for DCP’s photo-ID catalog. By now the original 13 dolphins joined up with another group making one massive group of dolphins. Kel entered the water with the MVA and I entered the glassy water soon after with my camera. As we were heading toward the dolphins all I saw was this massive ball of juvenile dolphins just beneath the surface. They were more interested in socializing with each other than playing with us humans – which from a research perspective, is exactly what we want. After we observed the dolphins for a little bit they went out of our view and so we did not pursue them. I thought the encounter was over, but the big group of dolphins headed toward us. As we approached the group, I saw Stefran (#082) and her calf swim by. Kel was able to confirm that the sex of the calf was female, so Stefran has a little baby girl with her. Upon further observation Kel suspects that Swoosh (#036) and Romeo (#010) (both pictured here) could be pregnant – that would explain why we haven’t seen them with calves this year and, perhaps, why we’re seeing them together so much. I love the thought of new dolphin calves, soon swimming around in the ocean. After this encounter, Captain Al tried to put people in the water twice more before heading home.

Today was a great day with the dolphins on the perfect glassy water. Though the dolphins weren’t always interested in the humans, we still had a total of 5 encounters yesterday, which was more than I have witnessed thus far. I think we got some good footage of the dolphins, and some still photos that will be useful when updating the catalog. Despite the heat of the scorching sun it was a beautiful day to be on the water – and our guests are absolutely wonderful! Can’t wait for our next adventure!

Cheers,

Taylor and Nat

PS: Curious about Romeo, Swoosh, Stefran & Paul? You learn more about them and the other dolphins through our Adopt-A-Wild-Dolphin program. Or, join our 11 – 16 August 2019 ecotour program. It’s last minute, but it’s going to be awesome!!

Kelly Melillo Sweeting

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

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