Bimini2010_T69We departed the dock shortly after 1600 today, anticipating some less-than-calm seas. Thankfully, it wasn’t too bad and even improved as the afternoon wore on. While we were all looking forward, scanning the ocean for dolphins, we suddenly saw an Atlantic spotted dolphin calf behind the boat, leaping toward us. Apparently this little ‘guy’ wanted to be seen! The dolphins were very active and we hopped in the water for some observations in their world. This first swim was a nice and our second swim was even better and longer. By the end of the day, we had seen Tina (#14), Prince William (#64), Niecey (#48), Speedy (#78). I also think Finn (#09) and Tim (#69) were there! Hopefully, even more dolphins will be ID’d once the video and still photos are reviewed. 

Another trip tomorrow!

Kel

BIM10_T68_BimHarborThursday’s dolphin trip was the final trip of the week run by Al Sweeting, Jr. We all descended upon the boat, ready for dolphins, even if we were a bit tired from these busy weeks! I had seen a manta ray cruising the beach earlier in the morning so I was keeping my eyes peeled for that. I was so focused that I nearly missed the bottlenose dolphins right in front of me! Very close to the harbor entrance we saw a group of bottlenose dolphins who at first appeared to be feeding. That is a perfect time to observe these guys, but unfortunately there was too much boat traffic in the area to safely enter the water. Soon, it was clear that they were moving south anyway… 

It was a lot of waiting and watching until we saw our next dolphin. It appeared to be a lone bottlenose dolphin hanging just where the Great Bahama Bank meets the deep, deep Gulf Stream. It was on the move and soon we lost it (but not before getting dorsal fin photos for future ID work!). After this sighting we had to wait until 1900 for more dolphins! We saw scattered Atlantic spotted dolphins, including un-named adults #40 and 75. It was interesting that #75, an adult male, was hanging with what appeared to be two calves…hmmm….None of the dolphins was interested in us or the boat for too long, unfortunately. Our ride home including a beautiful pink sky and scattered bottlenose dolphins everywhere (or so it seemed). So, although it was not a great day for underwater data, it was still dolphin-filled. 

A couple of days on dry land and then more dolphin trips! 

Until then,

Kel

Bimini2010_T67_TtAfter the usual morning of email, paperwork and housework, I headed to the Sea Crest Hotel & Marina for a noon Intro to DCP talk to this week’s passengers (visiting researchers and students). As usual, it was a great audience – thank you! We departed the dock slightly early (1430) so that everyone could have a chance to snorkel the Bimini Road (aka “Atlantis”). Then it was time for dolphins…. 

We saw three different groups of bottlenose dolphins, with the second being just a “fly-by” from what appeared to be a lone dolphin. We continued in search of what we thought to be illusive spotted dolphins. We were heading back toward shore when the captain saw it – a splash – to the west. We headed into the setting sun uncertain of what he saw. But, there they were! At least 12 Atlantic spotted dolphins were around the boat, including Split Jaw (#22), Niecey (#48) and un-named #92. I’m hoping to ID more individuals when reviewing the video, even though visibility wasn’t great. It will be particularly interesting to review the video and acoustic data of Split Jaw and his interactions with three young dolphins. We arrived back to the dock in the dark, but happy! 

Until next time,

Kel

Tuesday’s dolphin trip was filled with Atlantic spotted dolphins. The different dolphin groups all seemed to be traveling in a southerly direction, but some were more focused on this travel than others! That was the case with our first group of spotted dolphins, including White Blotch (#29), her calf, un-named #94, Trudy (#57) and six other, unknown animals. They were really on the move! We saw our second group of dolphins shortly after. The group size began at four and grew to at least 14 animals, including Lone Star (#56) and Stefran (#82). We had a few water entries and found ourselves suddenly with a different group of dolphins! This was a younger group and included un-named #84 and 92. ID#84 is a young female who, although now independent, is the offspring of Trudy (#57) – and, DCP is now offering the chance to name #84! Click here to learn how. 

As we headed back to the dock, we saw another small group of spotted dolphins, but they were not interested in us or the boat. Two more dolphin trips this week, so stay tuned! 

Until then,

Kel

Bimini2010_T65_C2We departed the dock shortly after 1500 and soon were observing a group of traveling bottlenose dolphins. Hopefully I’ll be able to get some IDs from the photos! Since this week’s boat passengers (visiting researchers and students) are more interested in spotted dolphins, we headed in search of them. Soon, we were watching a group of at least 10 Atlantic spotted dolphins, including Trudy (#57), Tilly (#87) and un-named #92 and #93. Over the course of the afternoon, the composition of the group changed, but we also saw Tina (#14), Split Jaw (#22), Lone Star (#56), Nemo (#76), Stefran (#82), un-named #40, #84 and possibly Cerra (#38). There were several water entries and at one point, we were watching a calf play with a blade of sea grass at the surface (pictured here). Unfortunately, we had to leave these dolphins with sunset looming. On the way back to Bimini, we were greeted by spotteds on the bow, including Finn (#09), Romeo (#10), White Blotch (#29), Lil’ Jess (#35), possibly #94 and two un-identified adults. As usual, White Blotch was one of the last dolphins to leave the bow! 

Until next time,

Kel

Bimini2010_T64S2_TtSunday’s dolphin trip was very overcast and we were worried this would make it difficult to see the dolphins. Ha! They made sure to prove us wrong! We departed the dock at 1511 with Bimini Adventures and by 1628 we were eagerly watching a group of at least 4 bottlenose dolphins! They seemed to be on the move, so we were too. Moments later, we saw a separate group of 2 bottlenose dolphins. They cruised right under the bow of the boat, giving me the opportunity to capture this picture! In the next ten minutes, we saw two more small groups of bottlenose dolphins. Perhaps they were all headed to the same place? 

We continued our search for dolphins, hoping for Atlantic spotteds. At 1730, we found them! At first there were four young dolphins, including Tilly (#87) and un-named #79. They were soon joined by several mother/calf pairs and some adult males. The count grew to 18 individual dolphins, including Trudy (#57), Stefran (#82) and un-named #43 and 75. With the sun setting before 2000 now, we soon had to head back to the dock and were joined by two adults and two calves on the bow until 1846. We were sure that would be all the dolphins for the day, but we saw even more bottlenose dolphins on the ride home! 

Until next time,

Kel

Bimini2010_T63_ID80_76After four days of weather challenges and no dolphin sightings, today was the day. The sea was wonderfully flat and although this made things very warm, it was a welcome change over the rough, stormy weather at the beginning of the week. We were all diligently searching for dolphins and then, halfway into the trip, there they were. We knew it was a lot of dolphins, but we were amazed when our count reached 28 Atlantic spotted dolphins! At times, the group was quite cohesive and at others, somewhat scattered. We had two opportunities to swim with the dolphins, the second of which was the longest. Over the course of the afternoon we saw Buster (#04), Lumpy (#17), Split Jaw (#22), Lone Star (#56), Nemo (#76), Speedy (#78), Leslie (#80), Stefran (#82) and un-named #40, 24, 75. I think Billy (#64) was also there! And, I think we’ll ID even more individuals after reviewing photographs and video. In this photo, you can see Leslie and Nemo interacting closely; the water was so calm, I took this picture from the surface! With very satisfied passengers, we headed back to the dock! 

On Friday morning I’ll visit the Coral Reef II again. This time, I’ll have a Q&A session with students from the Chicago City Day School. I can’t wait to hear what they have to say! 

Until next time,

Kel

Wednesday finally looked like the Bimini we are used to: sunshine and calm seas. We departed the dock in mid-afternoon and passengers were soon snorkeling at 3 Sisters. There was some trepidation regarding a nurse shark and lots of squealing when folks noticed the very curious remora. Lots of good fish and snorkel practice for everyone though. As we headed in search of dolphins, we were all confident that we would see many. They must have had other plans though, as we did not see them all afternoon. It is obviously disappointing for the boat passengers, but all understand that misses can happen (even on the nicest day) when hoping to see wild animals. It’s always good for the researchers to remind themselves too! We have very, very high hopes for Thursday so stay tuned. 

Until then,

Kel

Tuesday began with an Intro to DCP talk to this week’s guests, a group of visiting researchers and students. After lunch, it was boat time. Although we still had squalls in the area, it was much sunnier than the previous two days. In fact, on Monday, it the squalls were so bad, they sent us back to the dock less than one hour after we departed. Today, the skies were clearer, but the seas were a bit rough. We diligently kept our eyes open for dolphins, but unfortunately, we saw none. The forecast for tomorrow and Thursday is much more favorable, so everyone is confident we will end on very high notes! 

Until then,

Kel

Bimini2010_T60_TtThursday morning began early with a farewell breakfast and a mad dash to the airport for Cat & Janan. Thanks again for your hard work! For me, it was back to the solo grind, prepping for the boat and heading out shortly after 1600 with a private dolphin trip charter with Bill & Nowdla Keefe. We didn’t need to wait long and soon we saw a group of at least 18 dolphins! They were slightly scattered so the count was difficult. But, included in the group were Lone Star (#56), Stefran (#82), Tilly (#87) and un-named #84. We had two short swim with these dolphins, but they seemed to be on the move. Soon, we were looking for others and were not disappointed! Only minutes later we saw our second group of Atlantic spotted dolphins, this time five individuals. But, this group was completely disinterested in our presence, so after they ducked and avoided the boat, we left them. And guess what? Only minutes later we saw more dolphins! Nemo (#76), Leslie (#80) and an un-known adult were on the move. They came in for a nice bowride and the guests were able to get a look at Nemo’s “lucky fin.” 

As we headed closer to the island, we saw dolphins jumping in the deep water and later got to see at least seven bottlenose dolphins. While I stayed onboard to collect dorsal fin photographs, the crew and passengers got a super close underwater look. We were all prepared for that to be the highlight of the day and continued back to shore… 

Our ride was pleasantly interrupted by our seventh sighting of the day! This group of at least six spotteds included Split Jaw (#22), Billy (#64) and, I think, Vincent (#11). I can’t wait to review the video to be sure! There were one or two calves in the group and although water visibility wasn’t great (outgoing tide!), the dolphins came super close to us. A great end to the day! 

Until next time,

Kel

Bimini2010_T59_TtWe’re not sure where the last four weeks went, but they have certainly flown by! Janan & Cat spent the early part of this week finishing up DCP tasks and cramming in a last bit island exploring and socializing. Then, Wednesday marked the 2010 summer interns’ last dolphin trip! We headed out with a full boat of excited passengers. While we did not get a chance to observe any dolphins underwater, we did have four separate sightings of bottlenose dolphins. Nearly all were in pairs and we got good, but quick views of all of them.  

Thursday morning Janan & Cat will depart and head to their respective homes. They were a fantastic team and DCP is grateful for all of their hard work! Stay tuned for the upcoming Dolphin Gazette for reflections from the interns. 

Until next time,

Kel, Cat & Janan

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Dolphin Communication Project
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