26 August 2019

Awesome First Dolphin - August 2019 Eco Tour

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We hope you enjoy this guest blog post from our August ecotour participant, Bonnie. Thanks for the contribution, Bonnie!

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Roger, my husband, and I with our three granddaughters, Allie, (almost age 11), Rayanne (age 12), and Taylor (age 10), met with Kelly Melillo Sweeting, DCP Eco Tour coordinator, and two other participants of the program, Megan and Sue, for a brief orientation on August 2019 Eco Tour Program Agenda that included swimming with wild dolphins in Atlantic Ocean every afternoon.  This will be my granddaughters’ first experience in swimming with wild dolphins, and this is Roger’s and my second time.  We love swimming with Bimini dolphins.  So wonderful.

We boarded the boat at 2:45 p.m at Sea Crest Marina. When we arrived on board, we tucked away our fins, snorkel, and masks on the stern of the vessel. The three young girls carefully walked to the bow of the boat to begin their search for wild dolphins. Shortly after leaving the harbor, Sue spotted one Atlantic spotted dolphin, then another, and another. So we had three Atlantic spotted dolphins that came to play with us. We grabbed our cameras and started taking pictures of them.

After, observing them for short period of time. Kelly gave us the sign to put on our gear. All eight of us moved toward the swim platform of the boat and one by one slipped gently into the warm ocean.  You could see the dolphins’ dorsal fins in the distance before we entered the ocean. I feel, they were waiting for us to join their pod.  The girls swam ahead of Roger and I and followed Kelly as she filmed dolphins for DCP research projects.  The three young girls would stop moving for a moment, look for dolphins, spot the dolphins and take a picture. I received a tap from Allie after a dolphin, passed in-between us when I was filming another dolphin. We both turned our heads toward each other underwater with amazement in our eyes that he picked us to swim by.

After the dolphins left our pod, we returned to the boat. I felt the joy and enthusiasm from the girls as they explained their own encounter with Atlantic spotted dolphins. They began to ask these questions; What are the dolphins names? What kind of dolphins are they? Can we swim with them again? Throughout the Eco Tour Program, they learned dolphins’ names, looked at photographs that they took, how to identify dolphins, and much more.

As we waited on ferry to depart to South Bimini where we board the airplane for home, Kelly sat by the ferry dock in her golf cart with her two children. She asked the three girls, what was the best part of this trip for you?  The girls said, “the dolphins and taking pictures of them!” The ferry moved slowly away from the dock, Kelly and her children created hearts ️with their hands. A beautiful Bimini, Bahamas goodbye.

Bonnie Dolphin Ambassador

Kelly Melillo Sweeting

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

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