Trip #13 of the 2002 Field Season

Always a lucky number … and today proved no exception.

Again, today we traveled only to Subarune, not even that far clock-wise around Mikura Island. We spent the two hour trip with about 40 plus dolphins … not all at once, mind you. The dolphins had other things on their minds today. Today, they were socializing and playing and otherwise engaged in smaller sub-groups of about 4-8 individuals per sub-group. Luckily, the water was warm today (~24°C) because we spent most of the trip in the water. I still managed to record about 20 minutes of video. There was splashing and rolling at the surface, coupled with our observations of many many whistles audible underwater, and this suggested that there was courtship behavior leading potentially to mating going on. Since all the dolphins seemed to be younger sub-adults or mother/calf pairs, with calves ranging in age from about a month old to 2-3 years old, it would seem that this activity was socio-sexual or playful and useful in establishing bonds and relations. We identified more than 20 different individual dolphins from our video records or by simple recognition of scars and marks. At one point after ~15 minutes in the water, I was taking a light measure reading and 8 dolphins sneaked up behind me … the folks on the boat alerted me. I turned around just as the began to swim by me. Neat! It was the first time I had been in the water with these dolphins without my camera. I took a few seconds to swim with them as they continued on … then returned to the boat. Cheers Kathleen