09 August 2017

And Then There Were Two…

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Thursday started off on a somber note, as it came with the realization that one of our Trio members was leaving us later that morning. The time had come for Patrick to say goodbye and head home to Kentucky, and after spending the last nine consecutive weeks together, it was heartbreaking to think that the time of the “Trio” had come to an end…at least for now.  Having spent the night before celebrating his birthday, we were determined to give Patrick a proper send off, so when the time came for him to catch the ferry to South Bimini (and the airport), we walked him there, genuinely sad about his departure, and made sure to embarrass him with excessive good-bye waving. You’ll be missed, Patrick!

After losing a member, the Trio, became the “Duo”, and Tori and Kaiya went back to the office to spend some time working on ID’s and video logs before getting themselves ready for the afternoon boat departure and dolphin search. Once on board the Renegade, we set out with Captain Al and Captain Audley, determined to have an eventful day and locate some dolphins. It was about 90 minutes into the trip when we came upon a group of more than ten bottlenose. With Tori on the bow spotting, Kaiya sprang into action taking pictures with the surface camera, and after about ten minutes of them hanging around, Captain Al gave the go-ahead to get in the water. With Kaiya on the bridge, documenting everything on the clipboard, Tori grabbed her mask and fins and the video camera and slipped into the water with the eco-tour guests.  Unfortunately, the bottlenose didn’t stick around that long, but Tori was able to get some footage of one crater feeding, before it left view. The group was picked up, but was told to keep their gear on because we were going to get dropped off again closer to the dolphins and continue our encounter. Once again, everyone entered the water, only to catch a few glimpses of some more crater feeding behavior, before Captain Al made the call to bring us in since it was getting late and we were pretty far out today.  Leaving the dolphins once we find them is never easy, but it’s much harder to navigate a boat in the dark, so unfortunately that decision often has to be made.

On the way back to the marina, Tori caught sight of those tell-tale dorsal fins off the starboard side, and called out to Captain Audley who brought the boat right up alongside a group of four spotted dolphins, including none other than Lil’Jess (#35) and her calf, and an unidentified adult female with her calf as well. Since this was an ideal encounter, and we had made good time getting back, Captain Al let us get in the water for one last swim. This time, with Tori on the bridge, Kaiya was able to grab the video camera and get in to take some fun footage of this group. After about 20 minutes, Captain Audley said it was time to go, so yet again, we had to leave these incredible animals behind and call it a day. Today though, it wasn't so bad leaving, since we had multiple encounters, and the eco-tour group was highly satisfied and incredibly enthusiastic about the rest of week to come. Once back at the marina, Kaiya and Tori were off back home to prep for tomorrow’s DCP Information Session with the Sea Crest guests.  It’s never a dull moment in the day of an intern here on Bimini…

Signing off,

Kaiya and Tori

Kelly Melillo Sweeting

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

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