Bahamas 2000

Worth the Rain and the Wait

 

Saturday was a (much-deserved) rest day for the DCP researchers. Then on Sunday the next Sea Crest dolphin tour group arrived on Bimini. This group is composed of 14 guests from different parts of the US. 

 

After a morning of catch-up on office stuff, we prepared to head out on the boat with the guests at 1500. As we pulled out of the dock there were ominous storm clouds to the northwest that let out a deep rumble of thunder every once in a while. Despite the threat of a storm, Captain Al knew that these clouds were moving away from Bimini, and the radar did not indicate any more storms, so we decided to head out in search of dolphins anyway.  

 

As it turned out, the radar was not fully accurate, since weather is not 100% predictable (shocking!). After anchoring for about 30 minutes to do a gear check, we spent the next 2 hours driving in large circles in order to dodge the rain and lightning. At one point we had to endure an unavoidable rain shower. All of the erratic weather was worth it, however, because as we made our way back to the harbor Captain Al saw something far in the distance. At about 1830 we came across a group of 17 spotted dolphins! Since it was getting late, we only spent a few minutes watching this group from the boat before deciding to try underwater observations. A small group of guests decided to get in the water while Kel used the MVA and Nicole took still photos. The dolphin group was mostly composed of playful younger dolphins, including Inka (#93), un-named #101, #102 and possibly #105, though Tina (#14) and a few older individuals were also there. We will have to check our photos and video to see who else joined us! 

 

Our encounter lasted about 15 minutes because we had to head home once more. As we started driving, #102 and two other juveniles rode the bow for a few minutes. Suddenly, we saw another group of at least 15 spotted dolphins and 2 bottlenose just ahead of us. This group only joined the boat for a moment before continuing on their way. But two dolphins stuck around to ride the bow. They turned out to be Swoosh (#36) and a calf! After they left us we focused on getting back to the harbor. But we had a nice send off from another calf who came leaping over from the west! This dolphin did not stick around but it was wonderful to watch it for the brief moment. 

 

We got back to the dock a bit late but in high spirits. What will tomorrow bring for this new guest group? 

 

"Sea" you tomorrow!

Nicole & Kel

 

Giving back and saying goodbye

 

After breakfast on Thursday we headed to Radio Beach for a beach cleanup. Everyone grabbed a buddy and collected garbage and debris--as a group we collected 9 bags of trash! It is nice that the students are able to give back to Bimini and the environment that gave them so many wonderful experiences over the past 12 days. Then everyone enjoyed the beach one last time with a luxurious cool-off swim! 

 

Once they had dried off, the students headed back to the common room to discuss some final details about the course. After that there was a bit of free time before lunch during which some people popped down to the store to buy some adult beverages for dinner and others headed to the Bimini Museum to learn some interesting facts about this tiny island. They were surprised to discover that the closing scene of the movie The Silence of the Lambs was filmed just down the road from the Sea Crest Hotel and Marina where they have been staying while on Bimini! 

 

The final lunch of the trip included a special surprise--conch fritters and crack conch (similar to fried clam strips) prepared by the one and only Miss Sarah Lee. There were even plain fritters so that the vegetarians could share in the experience! Once everyone had indulged in the Bahamian culinary experience, we got ready for the boat and left the marina at 1430.  

 

The group's last boat ride started out with a snorkel stop at “Shell Beach.” The students (and Dr. M) spotted some amazing creatures including a squid, an eagle ray, a nurse shark and many reef fishes. Back on the boat, a few students took turns diving and jumping off of the boat--Dr. M even wowed us with a cannonball!  

 

Once everyone was tired out from playing in the water, we began our usual course in the search of dolphins. After an hour and a half of scanning the choppy and cloud-shaded water, we finally came across a group of 3 spotted dolphins. We were not able to identify anyone from the boat but we did notice that the group included an adult, an older calf, and a juvenile and appeared to be traveling. We observed these dolphins from the boat for about 30 minutes before continuing on our way. About an hour later we noticed that there were multiple squalls around us, including one that had obscured the northern tip of North Bimini. Captain Kat took this as a sign for us to start heading home. Just as we approached the entrance to the channel we came across another group of spotted dolphins, this time a group of 6 including Lil' Jess (#35). Unfortunately, the squalls finally caught up to us so we all hid in the cabin as we made our way back to the marina.  

 

Back on dry land, everyone showered and got ready for our special last night on Bimini. Dinner was tortellini and pink sauce (which many students had never tried, but found that they liked!) with spicy chicken sausages. Once the dinner dishes were cleaned up, Kat and Kaila joined our group as we headed over to Big John's where they enjoyed different versions of the popular local drink, rum punch! It was a fun-filled evening to end a wonderful field course.  

 

Friday morning started bright and early with breakfast at 0700. By 0800 we shared a big group hug and then Kel and Nicole said goodbye to Dr. M and the EKU students who then made their way to the South Bimini airport. DCP is sad to see them go but we are very grateful for their limitless positivity throughout the past two weeks! We cannot thank them enough for investing in this experience and giving us the opportunity to share so much of Bimini and the dolphins with them. 

 

Our trip is "fin",

Kel & Nicole, on behalf of The Podfia (EKU 2016)

 

PS: And a big, big thank you to everyone who donated to our "Double Down on DCP" fundraiser! We raised over $1,300 and will now get a matching donation of $1,000 - woo-who! Forgot to donate? Don't worry - you can still contribute! Just click here.

 

It’s DolphFUN and games until someone loses a fluke

 

On Wednesday, some of us woke early for a morning walk. The big winner in this exercise was Ben, who found $120 on the beach! With no one around to claim it, he savored his good luck. Our class session was a discussion about ecotourism, bringing our conversation full circle from the first day. Kel shared (one of her many) soap boxes and we experienced our first Bimini power outage. Thankfully, it was short. We discussed our opinions about how to be “eco-tourists” and be as least harmful as possible.  

 

Some more of us met Tommy Saunders and others went to the beach and still others stayed in the cool to spare our skin from more sun. We dined on baked potatoes (a first for one of us!) and got the announcement that we were planning to have conch fritters and cracked conch tomorrow! We got ready for the boat and departed the dock at 1500. 

 

Just one hour into the trip, we saw a huge group of Atlantic spotted dolphins. We counted to 31 right away, but then got to 32! They were moving very fast, still some of them slowed enough for us to get in and observe them under water. It was really nice to see how far we have come with our free diving and overall comfort in the water. We’re chuckling as we realize we all have our “favorite” dolphins: Dom –Split Jaw (#22), Christine and Andrea are in love with Lil’ Jess (#35), Patrick and Kaelin are feuding over Tina (#14), Morgan – Inka (#93), Veronica – un-named #101, Tyler – Noodle (#94), Ben – Leslie (#80), Caitlyn – Paul (#99), Casey – Cerra (#38), Michelle – Speedy (#78) and Dr. M is waiting for photo-ID of her favorite adult. Yes – this group has seen all of these dolphins! 

 

In the midst of the whole day, we also saw a large loggerhead turtle. The dolphins paid it no mind as it dived down and out of sight. We came back “early” (barely!) and got ready for our last BBQ. We ate delicious burgers and dogs (thank you Kaila!) and Nicole’s Grandmother’s yellow rice (wink, wink, Kaiya – SHU 2015) leaving little room for animal crackers (a mature dessert choice). After dinner, some of us went to the beach to look for bioluminescence; we found a little and saw several shooting stars! The stars were absolutely amazing and the clear night only highlighted the lights (light pollution – ugh) of Miami. 

 

Let’s “sea” what’s in store tomorrow,

The Podfia (EKU 2016)

 

Shark Day: Hoo-Ha-Ha!

 

On Tuesday, we began with our yummy breakfast, the blog and some photo-ID. Morning break was early because lunch was early because today was Shark Day! But, there was a surprise in store, one that was about to be very appropriately foreshadowed… 

 

The boat departed at 1300 and as we were departing the harbor, some of us saw a spotted eagle ray leap out of the water! Since we were not searching for dolphins, we were allowed to lay down on the boat: it was amazing! Especially since some of us were sure to keep watch, in case we did see dolphins. We arrived at Honeymoon Harbor, our surprise location. Honeymoon Harbor is a small area on Gun Cay where our adventure began with a casual jump into the water with a barracuda. There were so many stingrays right away; we were all a little bit nervous. Tyler was busy feeding one stingray and another decided to see how his arm tasted! He has the love mark to prove it. Several others of us did get nibbled and sucked on, but these did not leave marks. While Veronica was taking a photo in one direction, a stingray casually swam past her, rubbing right up against her face! We all stopped keeping track of how long Kaelin was continually laughing as the stingrays tickled her feet. Casey got a stingray hug, as a ray wiggled right up her ventral side (her belly). Morgan asked them to back off – she has a three date rule! Check out this picture of Nicole trying her hand at using Captain Al's camera! We were soon joined by other marine friends: several nurse sharks and another barracuda. There was also a mystery shark, but we couldn’t tell what it was. On our return to the boat, the barracuda “stalked” us and one stingray snuck up on Andrea. As we got closer to the boat, we saw a group of nurse sharks “snoozing” under the boat! 

 

Once we were actually on the boat, we had snack on our way to the main destination. Dom is still talking about the Craisins: “I’m crazy for Craisins!” We arrived at Triangle Rocks, we asked all our scared questions about sharks biting people and Captain Al tried to tell us about his shark scar (not real!). He briefed us about what to expect and how to stay safe before baiting the sharks. Some of us were nervous, but we were all super excited to get in the water with three Caribbean reef sharks and one sharpnose. The largest reef shark was about six feet long! Sometimes they came really, really close to us. It was a little unnerving, but it was really cool to see animals to compare to the dolphins. The sharks are all about the slow cruise and it was amazing to be that up close and personal with them, even if eye contact with a shark is much different than with a dolphin! 

 

The ride home was “Suntan City” as the ladies in the group were taking advantage of the lack of datasheet and search duties! Back on land, Dom, Patrick, Ben and Nicole went to the beach while others of us felt too crispy for more sun. We all met back up in the common room for delicious mac-n-cheese, chicken and baked beans. We loved dinner, but still managed to keep room for ice cream dessert. After hours of observing Casey’s hair braiding school, Dom successfully graduated and braided Michelle’s hair. His clients are lining up… 

 

Today was a RAY of sunshine,

The Podfia (EKU 2016) 

 

PS: In case you missed it, that “Hoo-ha-ha” in the title is a reference to Finding Nemo.

 

Holy Mackerel!

 

On Monday morning, it was a large thunderclap that woke us! Soon our bellies were full, our blog was written and we were discussing mixed species interactions. We all agreed that people cannot put our personal/human expectations and social constructs onto dolphins, particularly when it comes to socio-sexual interactions and mating techniques. (For more on this, check out Dr. JustinGregg’s blog).  

 

Our boat trip departed at 1430 so that we could snorkel the biggest sister of the “3 Sister Rocks.” There was crazy cool wildlife here, with fish that let us get within centimeters of them! We saw a hound fish, a nurse shark, barracuda and maybe a soldier fish.  We took photographs around the arch, and practiced diving (now, everyone has been under water!). This site had more concentration of fish than we’d ever seen before. We could hear the parrotfish chomping away and saw lots of tiny jellyfish.  

 

We climbed aboard and began what turned out to be a long search for dolphins, but we realized that it only felt long because we saw them so quickly yesterday. As we were in the process of turning back toward shore, Captain Al came down from the tower and said the dolphins were right ahead! We resumed our path and soon there were two spotted dolphins and one was tossing a mackerel in the air! As we got closer we saw it carrying it in its mouth. There were two adults intermittently riding the bow, Tina (#14 – definitely looking pregnant) and another adult, who also looked pregnant: a Bimini bun in the oven! This was another timely example of females associating when in the same reproductive state, something we discussed in class just a few days ago. Also coming to the bow were two young juveniles, including un-named #102.  

 

We entered the water more unsure than usual if they would stick around because they were slowly on the move. But, much to our surprise, we had a great observation! When the largest group was near us, there was a lot of sargassum play – sometimes, the dolphins would carry the seaweed on their pec fin, drop it and then catch it on their flukes. There was also mutual object play – they took turns with the seaweed! Some of the sargassum chunks were quite large, and at other times, they would go after individual blades of sea grass. They were blowing lots of bubbles, and at one point, there was a big bubble burst which floated all the way up to us. Later, a youngster followed his bubbles up to the surface, swimming back into them. Some of us were watching from the boat and laughed at moments when the dolphin group was just at the edge of the humans and the humans couldn’t find them! 

 

The end of our encounter was all Tina (#14) and a young male. At one point, Tina rolled over and we had a really good view of her belly. We could tell that her belly overall was swollen, but so were her mammaries. We’d not seen this before! The young male was associating with Tina as if he was her calf, but with his first spots visible and Tina’s pregnancy, if it was Tina’s calf, he’ll be on his own soon! We, the students, had a chuckle when Tina and the calf/juvenile hid in Kel’s blind spot and we could see them but she couldn’t! Morgan had a “spiritual moment” with the younger dolphin, slowly lowering her camera so that she could savor the moment. Patrick declared his love for Tina, saying simply, “I have a girlfriend: Tina.” Sorry, ladies.  

 

On our late ride home (thank you crew!), three dolphins came racing to the bow. Three turned into eight and they seemed to be jockeying for position.  As they left the bow, they were leaping in our stern wake and a laughing gull came in to steal the show. Dom lovingly (well, maybe not) referred to the gull as a rat with wings. As we looked up at the gull in awe, with our mouths open, Captain Al suggested we close those mouths, to prevent a good luck deposit. Back at the dock, we got ready quickly for our marina BBQ. It was so delicious and some of us tried Kalik, the local beer, before once again falling into brownie bliss. After a noisy game of spoons, we headed back to our rooms and called it a night. 

 

Today wasn’t a fluke,

The Podfia (EKU 2016)

 

The Day of the Dolphins

 

Sunday began bright and early. Breakfast was only 30 minutes earlier than usual, but it felt like a lifetime earlier. We headed to South Bimini – and from the beginning our journey, we were being swarmed by no-see-ums, referred to by us as “The Devil’s Creatures.” No-see-ums are actually sandflies and while there are some on North Bimini, South Bimini is notorious for them. We braved these vicious creatures for good reason: a tour of the South Bimini Biological Field Station, aka The SharkLab. Here, we got to wade into the water to see juvenile lemon and nurse sharks (and got to see little fish swimming about!) and feel the nurse shark. The lemon shark wasn’t having any of it! We learned how to sex the individuals and more about their on-going research projects. Their methods are so much different from the non-invasive dolphin research we are participating in, that it really has us thinking about what methods are required to study which species. We also got a glimpse of their tight living and lab quarters – wow! Thank you SharkLab! 

 

As soon as we were back on North Bimini, we grabbed our snorkel gear from the boat and raced into “God’s Nectar” – the ocean! It was our first day a back at the beach following our first day in the waves. We practiced snorkeling and picked up garbage. It was a fun beach break, before heading in for lunch. The boat again departed at 1500 and we began the trip in the raaaain! This freezing torrential downpour (not really) had us fearing for our lives (not really) and wondering if we would ever be dry again (not really). It was a heavy rain, but it passed by fairly quickly and soon we were searching for dolphins in the sunshine.  

 

And we didn’t have to wait long – it was the earliest into the trip that we saw the dolphins. It was our first mixed species group! There were two spotteds and two bottlenose, and after this, we were almost never out of sight of dolphins for the whole day! All four of the dolphins were male and there were a lot of socio-sexual interactions. We could see a lot of their behaviors from the boat, hearing chuffs and seeing how obvious mating males are as the dolphins rolled on top of each other. We were able to observe this group of four under water; the two bottlenose were always together going between the individual spotteds (Prince William, #64, and Speedy, #78). They were being rough with each other, so we were mindful to keep our distance. Still, sometimes the dolphins turned their attention to us, investigating fins and stopping very close to us. Back on the boat, the four dolphins crossed paths with three other bottlenose, but the new individuals did not join the original group, which kept cruising north. As the day continued, more spotteds joined and we had several more opportunities to get into the water. During one of our last water entries, there were 17 or 18 (or more?) dolphins cruising by, including Tina (#14 – looking pregnant!), Split Jaw (#22), Niecey (#48), Prince William (#64), Leslie (#80), Paul (#99) and possibly Lil’ Jess (#35). As we cruised back in, we saw a turtle – was it a spy turtle?! 

 

Back on land, we ate taco-burrito-things – it was sooooo good. After dinner, everyone headed to bed (though not necessarily to sleep!). 

 

“Wave” goodbye,

The Podfia (EKU 2016)

 

In Awwwwwww of the Dolphins

 

We always have to start with a balanced breakfast and Saturday was no exception. We wrote Friday’s blog and then discussed dolphin social structure, including associations between mothers. Who knew how appropriate this topic would be!  

 

Lunch began with conch (and vege) salad and Caesar salad. Some of us really like it – and others were at least happy to have tried it. It seemed to depend on individual’s take on the consistency of the conch. The salad came with Sarah Lee’s special spicy goat pepper sauce – even a dab had our mouths on fire! 

 

The boat departed at 1500 and soon, we saw a tiny calf. We couldn’t ID the mother from the boat. When we got in the water, this mother and young calf pair didn’t stick around. The water was green pea soup – but we still saw several dolphins, including a calf attempting to nurse low in the water column. Later in the afternoon, we continued to see dolphins, but they were more interested in cruising with the boat than slowing down for us. In total for the day, we saw Lil’ Jess (#35) and possibly Cerra (#38) and Leslie (#80) in the group. 

 

Dinner was baked ziti and ice cream (or oreos) followed by a showing of “Spy in the Pod.” It was so dorky and wonderful that we loved it! We’ll be talking about spy turtle and spy tuna for a while… 

 

“Sea” You Sunday,

The Podfia (EKU 2016)

 

Attack of the Remoras

 

Friday began with a sleepy start after breakfast and blog, going straight into lecture. We briefly recapped the topic of play before moving onto group living in cetaceans. We discussed the baleen whales in addition to the toothed whales. We learned that females are the best resources for males ;-) With time left before break, we worked to ID one of the photos we collected yesterday: the young subadult, who was associating with a calf, was….Noodle (ID#94)!!! It was so difficult to attempt to recognize the dolphins in the water, but with one still photo in front of us, it was much more feasible to see the details that would lead us to a catalog match. It was really cool to be a part of the research and add to DCP’s sighting history for Noodle. 

 

During our break, some of us went back to the straw market, others went to the bakery for cake and Morgan took a powernap! We came back for lunch (which was delicious) and then got ready for the boat, taking our daily sunscreen baths. The boat departed at 1500, and we had a hot, slow start. We had a swim break partway to wake up and cool off. Christine was one of the last in the water and she saw some cool, funky fish. She called up to the boat and when she looked down there was one remora. Then another. And then Christine was racing (and screaming!) back to the boat. Dom and Tyler hopped in the water to look – and even they were zipping back to the safety of the boat! Don’t worry parents: the remoras can’t really hurt us! 

 

We filled our bellies with snack and self-proclaimed “semi-retired” Captain Al spotted dorsal fins in the distance. There were more whitecaps than we’d seen in previous days so it was difficult for us to see the dolphins until they were very close to the boat. Before we got in the water, there were at least 13 dolphins in a very tight group. As we were getting our snorkel gear on, the dolphins were swimming at the back of the boat – it seemed like they were waiting for us! Though there were a lot of dolphins in this group, we felt calmer in the water, more collected than yesterday. With the mechanics of snorkeling more secure, we were able to take in more details about the dolphins’ behavior and individual characteristics. For some of us, it also felt like the dolphins were coming closer to us today and we felt more comfortable executing our movements around them, really realizing that they can control their movements around us.  

 

To cap off the trip, Dom found his soulmate: as we headed back into the harbor, a woman on a yacht next to us was dancing. Dom began dancing “with” her and when she noticed, she danced “with” him too, even lassoing him! Back on land, we cleaned up and had dinner (yum yum curry chicken and amazing cake!). We reviewed our own photos (Morgan found a match to a dolphin just from memory!) and then watched the social episode of BBC’s “Inside the Animal Mind.” Full and sleepy, we went to bed to the sound of a street party. 

 

“Sea” you at the wedding,

The Podfia (EKU 2016)

 

The Podfia Swims with The Pod

 

On Thursday, we woke up, had breakfast and wrote our blog, before watching a video and practicing using an ethogram. We had a lecture on play and then our morning break. Some of us went to the straw market and others got ready for lunch. Casey is our resident hair stylist, specializing in a-mazing braids that are perfect for snorkeling. What would we do without her? (Be very frustrated!). We returned for lunch and boat prep.  

 

The boat departed at 14:30 today so that we could snorkel the Bimini Road, aka The Road to Atlantis. We saw some cool, colorful fish and lots of lobsters. Some of us could dive to the bottom, but others felt their heads might explode! Many of us think it does have enough design to suggest that it is human-made, others think it could be Atlantis – and some of think they are just some really nice rocks! Before we headed in search of the dolphins, two of us braved the seas once more in order to retrieve two pieces of plastic garbage. Then, it was time to search for dolphins… 

 

To our luck, we traveled a bit, but did not have to wait long before we saw a scattered group of Atlantic spotted dolphins, which included Tim (#69) and possibly Cerra (#38). The maybe-Cerra was whistling up a storm, and we could easily hear these sounds from the bow. When this group split apart, we chose to follow Lil’ Jess (#35) and her calf.  Half of our group got in the water, but Lil’ Jess wasn’t there! Instead we saw two juveniles (one checked out Kel and the MVA!), then an adult and a trio of dolphins cruised past us. We got back on the boat, caught up to Lil’ Jess again and the second half of us got to hop in the water. With Nicole recording with the MVA, we saw Lil’ Jess and her calf searching for something in the sand. Lil’ Jess bolted so quickly we thought she was swimming away, but really she was scanning the sand and then using her rostrum to circle in the sand. Hearing her echolocation was so cool! 

 

We got back on the boat wondering if that would be all the dolphins for the day – and even if it was, we were thrilled! Still, we had plenty of time, so we continued our search. And then. There. They. Were. Captain Kat said it was “a crapload of dolphins.” There were at least 16 dolphins and they were all over the place. Now, we were running out of time, so our surface observations were short so that we could test out a swim. Mind explosion – “holy calf!” We saw juvenile dolphins swimming belly to belly and wondered if this was general bonding or a mating attempt. There was a calf putting its melon to an older dolphin’s genitals – was this a calf trying to nurse from its mom? We saw some head ramming, but it was fairly gentle and followed by body rubbing. Their movements were so graceful, at one point, two dolphins were vertical in the water and formed a heart! One of the young adults went down to the sand and just laid there, nearly perfectly still, slowly rubbing its fluke into the sand. Other dolphins eventually swam down to her and she rejoined the group. At one point, one of the adults swam by Veronica, following her with its eye. The dolphins swam off so captains and Kel looked at the time and we decided to head back to the boat. But no. The dolphins came back and we got to observe them for even longer! When we finally did get back on the boat and headed toward home, three dolphins were riding the bow. One kept corkscrewing and riding with her belly up – and sure enough, Kel told us that this dolphin looked a lot like Noodle (#94). We need to confirm this with photo-ID, but if it is Noodle, it seems she in fact did not give up this silliness from her younger years! 

 

Back on land, we cleaned up and had pizza from Sara Lee! We really enjoyed our taste of local cuisine – we wish we could give her a big group hug! It was so filling…Tyler says 5 was a bad choice, but Dom enjoyed his 7. Or was it 8? (Don’t worry everyone, they were small slices!). 

 

We really enjoyed looking at all the photos we collected today. There are so many photos and then, when we realized that we could actually hear the dolphins’ whistles, our excitement went through the roof, much to Dr. M’s amusement. 

 

Pod out,

The Podfia (EKU 2016)

 

Podfia Renegades

 

After our now-standard morning routine of deliciousness (aka breakfast) and blog writing, our Wednesday continued with a lecture about ethograms and different methods for sampling animal behavior. We revisited the Dolphin House and Mr. Saunders had us put up the tiles we brought him – he was really happy and we were honored to have contributed to the Dolphin House. Several of us met “Skippy” (some of us more than once!), a friendly local. We went to the Straw Market and got lots of good souvenirs – it was even fairly priced! Of course, we’ll be back. 

 

After this busy morning, we came back for lunch and then had time to get ready because today was the day – we were headed for our first grand adventure to the open water!! We boarded “Renegade,” and it was beautiful to see all the different shades of blue. Some of us saw a turtle – it was either a green turtle or a very big hawksbill. We also saw flying fish taking air to escape the boat’s path. As we approached the notorious “U-boat,” we stopped the boat for a moment of silence for Dr. Stan Kuczaj. Dr. Kuczaj was Dr. M’s mentor and friend (and of Dr. Yeater’s too – who you might remember from SHU courses and the collaborator’s page), a long-time board member of DCP and a source of great information for us. A poem was read before we all threw flowers into the water and had a moment of silence. We then went straight into our “Dolphin Drill,” knowing that Dr. Kuczaj would be hoping we were all having a great time here in The Bahamas. During our drill, we practiced getting our gear on and getting on and off the boat. It was a good thing we had this practice because we were a bit slow! The water was so clear and we could see the details on the sea floor. It felt like the water was much shallower than it was – until we tried to dive down! 

 

Back on board, we resumed our search for dolphins. At 17:30, we hopped into the water for a “swim break” and we spread apart so that we could “swim” in peace, even when it took some effort. Aside from “swimming,” it was also nice to cool off and re-energize for the dolphin search. Pretty much right after we were done, we saw dolphins for the first time! There were four bottlenose dolphins, including one that had a severely damaged dorsal fin and discoloration/damage to its melon and rostrum. We were amazed at how easy it was to see the dolphins, even when they were swimming at the sea floor under the boat! They weren’t very interested in us though, so after we all got a good look, we continued in search of other dolphins. The first two datasheet teams were hard at work throughout the day, especially when there were dolphins in view.  

 

We saw more dolphins as we continued our search, traveling back toward home. First it was more bottlenose dolphins in the distance and then – suddenly – there were Atlantic spotted dolphins! Initially, there was a possible mother/calf pair that came to the boat. The older dolphin did not stay long, but we got some good looks at the calf. Still thinking there were just two dolphins, a juvenile appeared at the boat, bring the count to 3. And then – another (older) juvenile came to the boat bringing the group count to at least 4! One of the juveniles was swimming beside the boat; it almost appeared that it was showing us all of its sides! We were running out of time, so the crew said that we could give an underwater observation a turn. But, once we got it, it seemed like the dolphins said, “Oh, what’s that? You want to get in the water with us? Okay. Bye!” 

 

Although we did not get to see the dolphins under water, it was good practice. We boarded the boat and headed toward home. Close to the harbor, we saw one more group of bottlenose dolphins. It was a little bit hard to be sure how many dolphins there were, but there were at least 3 individuals. Photo-ID might help us confirm this. It was an unusual observation in that the bottlenose dolphins rode the bow for a bit!  

 

After this, we really headed back to shore and got ready for dinner. We mostly ate and then crashed, some of us still feeling like we were on the boat! 

 

“Sea” you tomorrow,

The Podfia (EKU 2016) 

 

PS: Production of “Over the Gulfstream” (Working Title) is on-going. Stay tuned.

 

Contact Us

Write to us via snail-mail at:

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

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THE DOLPHIN COMMUNICATION PROJECT CHARITABLE SOLICITATION NUMBER CH42894, MEETS ALL REQUIREMENTS SPECIFIED BY THE FLORIDA SOLICITATION OF CONTRIBUTIONS ACT.  A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING TOLL-FREE (800-435-7352) WITHIN THE STATE OF FLORIDA, OR 850-410-3800 WHEN CALLING OUTSIDE THE STATE.  REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL, OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE.

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