Bahamas 2000

Braving the waves

On Tuesday morning, we saw a water spout (essentially a tornado on the ocean) from our class space. It was an, ummm, interesting way to start the day. Thankfully, the rest of the day was nice – it’s getting pretty warm down here! After writing our blog, we did a few of our cetacean species presentations. Then, we had a lecture on photo-ID and were able to practice on archived photos before identifying the two dolphins we swam with on Monday: Cerra (#38) and Sulfur (#102).

During our break before lunch, we did a little shopping and saw the ruins of the hotel where Hemingway used to stay. It was really warm as we walked around and then headed back for cat naps and our delicious lunch. The boat departed at 2:30 p.m. and just as we excited the marina some of us were lucky enough to see an eagle ray jump twice! We saw some more eagle rays cruising the harbor and soon began our search for dolphins.

We were certainly spoiled the first two boat trips, finding dolphins so quickly. Today, we had to be more patient. The search was broken up by the first of two loggerhead turtles. As we searched through the building waves, we came upon three young spotteds, including our buddy Sulfur (#102). Soon, these youngsters were joined by older dolphins. The group was cruising, riding the big waves. It definitely seemed to get the dolphins’ attention when the captain would engage the engine; they would come quickly to the bow. The larger group split up and Kel asked that we follow the younger group. We gave an underwater observation a try, getting a chance to see Sulfur again, along with two others. There was a lot of active pec-to-pec rubbing between the two un-ID’d dolphins (Update: Nicole ID’d these as Vee (#101) and un-ID’d #110; Vee is pictured here). Yesterday Cerra was super vocal; today, the dolphins were very quiet. The waves were pretty big, which made this swim more challenging that previous days. Watching the dolphins showed us how well adapted they are for the marine environment – and how out of place we are! When the dolphins swam away, we boarded the boat and continued to follow them on their journey south. At 18:04, our trio joined eight other dolphins, including the first clear calf sighting of the day. As it got later, we had to say goodbye and head to shore. Kudos to Ryan, who braved the waves in his face to keep an eye on the bowriding dolphins so DCP could mark exactly how far they traveled.

Shortly after, we got another nice glimpse of a loggerhead turtle. It was a wet, fun-and-slightly-scary rollercoaster ride home. But, we were all holding on, to each other and our hats! Back at the Sea Crest pasta dinner was amazing. Before bed, we ate brownies, finished our cetacean species presentations, worked on our assignments and headed to bed.

Until tomorrow,

UNBSJ 2018

Do aliens really exist?

The laughing gulls woke Christine Monday morning, but she wasn’t laughing! After breakfast, some of us went shopping and others swimming – and got to take a shower in the torrential downpour afterwards! We dried off and headed to class.

The afternoon was the most exciting part: just like Sunday, we didn’t have to wait long at all! Some of the same dolphins were once again just offshore. Today, they didn’t seem as interested in the boat, as they traveled south. We are already trying to identify individual dolphins! Because these dolphins were on the move and not interested in slowing down for us, we resumed our search, taking a break to snorkel “The Bimini Road” (aka “Atlantis.”) Though we did not see any aliens or Atlantians, we did see a pufferfish, a trumpetfish, squirrelfish, a stoplight parrotfish, lots of blue tangs, a triggerfish (hovering at the edges), damselfish, butterflyfish, lots of sergeant majors and of course the rocks. We could tell why people are drawn to thinking it has design and therefore human-made. Dr. Turnbull noticed a big difference in fish and coral abundance since his last visit several years ago – a lot more sediment in the area, fewer and less vibrant coral, fewer fish. Is this all because of the cruise ship development and use? Hurricane Irma (Sept 2017)? Both? We wonder if ReefCheck has any long term data on this site….

After our snorkel experience, we continued our search for dolphins, getting farther from the island than we had before. On the way we saw the old submarine that had run aground (stay tuned for details). After a long search, we saw a pair of spotted dolphins. Only one stayed (was it Lil’ Jess #35?) and she was not interested in the boat. We watched her for as long as we could and when she swam away, we kept searching – and quickly saw a large loggerhead turtle at the surface! “He” was very big, with a brown-ish shell, and taking a few breaths at the surface before diving down. After snack, we turned toward home, searching along the way. We got a radio call from another boat operator, letting us know that they saw dolphins in the area we were about to pass through. Initially there were seven Atlantic spotted dolphins. We couldn’t observe them from the boat for very long, because it was getting so late, so some of us quickly geared up and got ready to swim!

Underwater, only two of the dolphins stuck around, but it was amazing! It was an adult and a juvenile; both appeared to be female, though it was difficult to be sure for the juvenile. They were whistling and one was blowing bubbles as she whistled. The repetitive whistle went on for a long time, as she swam in calm circles around us. We were intrigued as they rolled, giving us nice views of their bellies. After a nice observation, they headed south and we headed back to the boat. (Update: In class, we ID’d both of these dolphins: it was Cerra (#38) – the big whistler, and Sulfur (#102). In this pic, you can see Sulfur, with Cerra sneaking in the background.)

Back on the boat, we got to see many more dolphins. Since we did not have time to stop, each subgroup came for a quick bowride before pulling away; there were a total of 17 more dolphins. Nicole, who was watching from the bow, was able to ID Tina (#14), Sulfur (#102), Niecey (#48), Leslie (#80), several calves, including a very little one, a few juveniles and possibly #111 and Romeo (#10),. What a great way to say goodnight!

We got to have dinner outside at the marina, which was nice. Then, it was time for assignments, animal crackers and bed.

What will tomorrow bring?

UNBSJ 2018

3 a.m. wake up: Totally worth it

We are so happy to welcome Dr. Stephen Turnbull and students from University of New Brunswick Saint John back to Bimini! It’s been a few years since UNBSJ has done a course with us and we’re thrilled have to them. This week, all of the DCP blog posts will be written by the UNBSJ students. Enjoy!

-Kel & Nicole

Bimini is the smallest airport we’ve seen so far. We thought Saint John was small! It was super chill as well. Maybe the maintenance guy was the one helping us? As opposed to Nassau (where Natalia flew threw) which is much more developed and like America. The water in Bimini is so beautiful, flying over was amazing and though those of us who weren’t given ear plugs are wondering when we’ll get our hearing back! Half of us were delayed in Canada and when we departed Fort Lauderdale we were in the midst of a storm, only to emerge in the sunshine before landing in Bimini.

As we landed on South Bimini, we took the water taxi to North Bimini, where we’ll stay at the Sea Crest. Seeing Bimini ahead, getting a glimpse of where we’d be for the next, was great. When we left Saint John we thought it was beautiful – 13C – ha! Those of us who arrived early in the morning were able to head to a snorkel practice at the beach. Startled by a shark…nope! A manta ray! It was huge! Even though Ryan was the closest one, he missed it! Those of us who were delayed hit the ground running devouring lunch with the group so that we could all be ready for our 2:30 p.m. dolphin trip! Kel warned us that it can be a long, boring boat trip searching for dolphins….

Ten minutes after departing: dolphins! At first there were 9 Atlantic spotted dolphins, including 3 calves. One of the calves was quite small and we suspect that two of the adults were males. We watched as those presumed males stayed close to each other and on the outskirts of the group, generally following the mom and calf group. At one point, at least two bottlenose dolphins came through, but they did not really join the spotted group. A few surfaces and then they were gone, as the spotted dolphins traveled south. Soon, the dolphins turned and headed north. Half of us got our gear on to try an underwater observation, but the dolphins kept on moving, so we took our gear off and observed from the boat. Sam was likely most happy to stand down, after sitting in his dry wetsuit in direct sunlight. Hot. Suddenly, the dolphins seemed to turn toward each other and all change direction, headed south again. We wondered why and soon had the answer.

More dolphins! The group size was soon at least 20 spotted dolphins. This was the first time we’d ever seen wild dolphins…this many dolphins, all in one place! We squealed with excitement as we got to follow the dolphins for hours. Included in this group was another calf, with a very distinct notch in its dorsal fin. Kel is so excited to add this to the catalog (a thought that just came to her as we were writing this!). Though the dolphins were still on the move, we decided to give a swim a shot. Since the dolphin group was so big, we all tried to get in. The swim was short, but Kel got some underwater video. Melina saw some bubble rings and play. Ryan saw some mating attempts – socio-sexual behavior? There were also some jellyfish, so some of us dove down and looked at them through the sunlight. One triggerfish cruised through as well. The dolphins were traveling too fast for us to keep us, so we waited a few minutes to see if they would cruise back before climbing aboard the boat. We continued to watch them from the boat, cruising farther from our island home. The captains were watching the time and announced it was time to say goodbye. Two dolphins, Leslie (#80) and presumably her calf, rode the bow for a few minutes. Leslie peeled off first and her calf followed soon after. It was a great way to end the long, first observation!

We headed back to the Sea Crest for showers and supper! After, we did some of our assignments and had a discussion on eco-tourism: what is it? Have we experienced it already? Then: bed.

Until tomorrow,

UNBSJ 2018

What’s up with the harbor, dolphins?

For the second time in the last month, I received a report of Atlantic spotted dolphins in the bay of Bimini. I’ve been studying these dolphins off Bimini’s shore for 15 years, with only a single report of spotteds in the harbor last fall, soon after Hurricane Irma (and those dolphins were very close to the opening of the bay/harbor). So…what’s up with coming in the harbor, dolphins?

As we work to ID which dolphins are undertaking this exploration, we hope everyone will be safe and respectful around the dolphins in the this area (and everywhere, of course!) !) – meaning, cautious driving, no touching, no feeding. So far, we know that Romeo (#10) and Leslie (#80), with their calves and another presumed mother/calf pair, were in the March explorer’s club (thank you, Atmo & Amlas!). On Sunday, it was Paul (#99), Vee (#101) and un-named #110. All looking healthy and not stressed (but circling in an atypical area).

Wild animals always keeping it interesting. Who’da thought.


(Interested in supporting DCP’s research? Consider joining our August eco-tour and help search for the dolphins yourself! 26 – 31 August 2018. Click here for all the details.)

Thank you,!

Happy National Dolphin Day! Yup. Did you know that April 14th is National Dolphin Day? This year, we are once again thankful for all of our supporters and today we add to that list. My Pet Needs That is focused around providing advice and guidance for pet owners worldwide. We are grateful to be a part of My Pet Needs That’s current campaign to help non-profits. Thank you!

If your company is interested in becoming a corporate sponsor of DCP, please contact us at info{at}dcpmail{dot}org. If you are interested in making a donation – whether a one-time show of support or monthly commitment – head to our Donate page under the “Ways to Help” menu.

PS: Interested in joining DCP in the field, assisting with research and observing dolphins? Join us in The Bahamas from 26 August – 31 August 2018. Learn more here!

2018 Short Field Experience: Apply Now!

DCP is now accepting two Short Field Experience Interns (SFE interns) to join our Bimini, The Bahamas field site from 22 May - 3 June 2018. SFE interns will get a jam-packed experience, learning about DCP's data collection, data entry and data analysis procedures. With supervision by experienced DCP researchers, SFE interns will contribute directly to DCP's research and education efforts while getting a taste of the research life for themselves. The fee for this experience is $600 which covers lodging, utilities and drinking water. Transportation (by air or ferry) to Bimini and food while on Bimini are not included. Spaces will be filled on a rolling-basis, so we recommend getting your application in as soon as possible. To apply, please complete our internship application, however only the following supplemental materials are required: cover letter, resume and one (1) letter of recommendation. Applicants must be 18 years old to apply and preference may be given to those applicants over 21 years old.

Questions? Email us at info{at}dcpmail{dot}org.

The Dolphin Gazette, Issue 22, 1

Looking back and looking ahead! Kathleen shares an overview of her January university courses at RIMS and invites you to join her in the fall. Kel gives info on opportunities in Bimini - with eco-tours or an internship. A heads up on our fast approaching 20th Anniversary wraps up the issue along with a fun crossword puzzle to entice you into the field! 
Thanks for reading - and sharing!

Click here to download your copy now!

The future of (almost) everything

UCONN, Kathleen's alma mater, asked alums in various businesses what they think the future holds for their particular industry, be it education, finance, entertainment, or space exploration. Scroll down to the science section to read Kathleen's thoughts!

Connect the Dots

Check out Coastal Angler Magazine Fort Myers Edition for a short artile by Kel! DCP hopes that the Coastal Angler readers enjoy this introduction into DCP's work, particularly photo-ID and all the questions recognizing individuals allows us to ask.

Want to join us in Bimini yourself? We are currently accepting sign-ups for May 2018 and August 2018 eco-tours - click here to learn more.

Can't travel to Bimini? Pre-order your snazzy shirt today and wear it knowing your purchase supports our dolphin research efforts!

Sail away with me - in Bimini!!

Woo-who! We are excited to offer two - that's right two - opportunities to join us in Bimini, The Bahamas. Here, we study wild Atlantic spotted and bottlenose dolphins. By joining a DCP Bimini eco-tour, you not only get an awesome, bucket-list worthy vacation, but you ensure DCP gets much needed boat time to collect our data. You'll learn about the dolphins and our research, even assisting if you want! Packages are all-inclusive (accommodations, food, boat trips, tax). We work with the most experienced Bahamian operator on the island. And, we can't wait for you to join us. 

Click here for all the details, including:

Session 1: Check-in Saturday 26 May, Check-out Thursday 31 May 2018

Session 2: Check-in Sunday 26 August, Check-out Friday 31 August 2018

$1875 per person (ask about our $50 US check discount!)

Includes: 5 nights' accommodation (double occupancy; single available for fee), 5 boat trips (weather dependent), All meals (private cook!), Boat snacks, Drinking water, Rental snorkel gear, DCP talks, Bahamian tax (VAT)

Note: The package begins with lunch on arrival day, followed by the first boat trip, generally departing at 2 or 3 p.m. The package ends after breakfast on departure day.

Not included: Transportation to/from Bimini, Transportation between airport/arrival port and hotel, Gratuity

Contact Us

Write to us via snail-mail at:

Dolphin Communication Project
P.O. Box 7485
Port St. Lucie, FL, 34985

Email us:

info {at} dcpmail {dot} org


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