WE SAW DOLPHINS!!! But first, Monday morning included a mangrove tour that lasted about 2.5 hours. We saw many critters and really enjoyed the animals. The afternoon boat trip brought us dolphins! We spent about 1.5 hours watching the dolphins from the boat. We saw 3 dolphins first (Nemo (#78), Leslie (#80) and an un-ID adult) and then our group size grew to 10 individuals. We did not get to swim with the dolphins as they really just wanted to play with the boat. Below are some comments from the DRTs and chaperones: 

Bill: We went on the mangrove tour and saw a lot of sharks and sting rays. 

Porter: We saw dolphins but we weren’t able to swim with them because they were not interested in us in the water. 

Becca: We saw two giant “spiky starfish” and dolphins. 

Stephanie: While we were sitting on the boat, the water splashed up and got us wet – the boat was passing through choppy waves. 

E: We finally got to see some dolphins and they were a lot smaller than I thought they’d be. And I had a great time in the mangroves seeing the variety of sharks and the sting rays. 

Emily: I saw a dolphin jumping out of the water and lots of fins. 

Ben: We stopped in the middle of the mangroves to swim and the water was really clear – it seemed like you could see forever. 

Sam: We went snorkeling near the mangroves and saw three big starfish and two nurse sharks.

Liam: It was really fun weaving through the mangroves and seeing all the nurse sharks. It was sort of easy to spot Trudy because of her hooked dorsal fin, just because all the dolphins were surfacing near the boat and we saw mostly their fins. 

Jack: On the mangrove tour we saw a barracuda and a pelican flying overhead. We also saw two nurse sharks mating. Even though it was only a few seconds, it was cool to try to identify my dolphin from scars and marks. 

Athan: Today we spotted some spotted dolphins and we saw about 9 at one time. And my favorite was Nemo because of her lucky fin.  

Gabby: We ate dinner on the docks and sort of watched the sun set over the ocean. It was really pretty. It was also really neat to see real dolphins and not just the pictures that we had been studying. We actually got to apply what we had been learning about dolphin IDs and recognize some dolphins.  

Sarah: I was really surprised to see my dolphin, Romeo, for the first time in real life. It was neat also to see this dolphin I had on the trading card – in reality. 

Alexis: It was really nice to get back into the research swing of things and do a lot of the stuff that I got to do last year on the boat like recording data.  

Gary: Our mangrove guide, Strata, is really proud of his three-year old daughter, Marina Sophie, and he told us all about the healing hole in the mangroves. It is kind of a hidden 30ft in diameter deep hole with fresh water and salt water and a smell like rotten eggs. And it’s supposed to have healing properties.  

John: after speeding through the little mangrove rivers, which is like speeding through a tunnel in spots, I got to see my first Ibis, a tropical bird with a big hooked bill.  

We were greeted variously through the dolphin sighting by Romeo (#10), Nemo (#76), White Blotch (#29), Lil Jess (#35), Trudy (#56), Leslie (#80), and un-ID #75 and several others which we could not identify from the surface. Nemo and another adult were exchanging many pec fin rubs! It was a good day and we are all tired and mildly sun-filled!

Until tomorrow,

Kel, Kathleen & the DRTs

Sunday was a day filled in the water – lots and lots of water. We learned about the boat this morning and how to safely climb to the bow from the stern. We learned how to slip into the water from the boat and then how to pull ourselves back onto the boat. We did lots of snorkeling – from shore and from the boat. 

Jack: Liam, Sam, Athan, E and I all made a song about Bimini on the boat while we were searching for dolphins. (Once we get video, we’ll post to the DCP web site for all to see). 

Emily: when I went snorkeling at Atlantis I saw a “Dori” fish – blue tang.  

Porter: I liked looking around the Atlantis Road while snorkeling. 

Stephanie: although we did not see any dolphins, I still had fun snorkeling from the boat.  

Gabrielle: we saw a ton of tropical fish that we normally see in aquariums.  

Athan: while looking for dolphins we saw a flying fish, and a swimming crab at the surface.  

Becca: we saw lots of fish and some I did not know what they were. We saw sting rays while snorkeling and from the boat. 

Ben: I got sick for part of the ride, but other than that is was good! 

Sarah: while practicing snorkeling we found sea glass and also little fish swam around my feet. 

Liam: there were no dolphins but it looked like there were dolphins because of the white caps in the water. 

Sam: we saw lots of colorful fish when we went snorkeling at the thought to be site of Altantis city 

E: I enjoyed seeing the very big variety of animals – fish – under water. We didn’t see any dolphins but I had lots of fun on the boat. 

Bill: The currents were very strong and harder to swim in than a pool. And I had lots of fun. 

Gary: We started a beautiful day in paradise with a delicious pot of coffee and a beautiful sunrise. And, ended it with an amazing afternoon in water almost bluer than Paul Newman’s eyes. 

Alexis: As a swimmer I was very, very impressed today with how well all the DCP DRTs did with some underwater current and a bit of chop.  

John (chaperone/filmmaker): we were entertained by the foredeck barbershop quintet practicing their new song on the bow of our boat for the DCP DRTs.  

Our afternoon boat trip was a long survey that took us roughly 8 miles from Bimini. We searched but the dolphins had other plans today … Tomorrow brings to us a mangrove tour and another dolphin trip. Our fingers are crossed in hopes that we will see and swim with dolphins. Then we can help with the research! 

Till tomorrow,

Kel, Kathleen & the DCP DRTs

Bimini2010_DRT2010_Day1Our day began at 3:30 am in Newark, NJ! By 10:45 am, we were waiting to clear Immigration and Customs on Bimini, The Bahamas! The following comments are from our DRT team: 

Ben: it’s a strange place – they do a lot of things differently than us. For example, the main mode of transportation on land is golf carts!  Sarah: We tried conch salad from a conch shack on the beach and the flavors were very good and spicy and tasted really good.  Becca: We swam in the ocean and saw lots of fish and there was an angel fish that seemed to be biting our feet. E: The airplane ride from Ft. Lauderdale to Bimini was like a roller coaster – the only thing he forgot to do was a barrel roll. Athan: At the end of our beach time today, we started a treasure hunt for Bimini silver … and we found some! Liam: The water is really warm but was a bit cloudy today because of the wind that was here the last few days.Jack: We saw Ghana score a goal against the USA on the TV while we ate the conch salad. Porter: I was really surprised at how pleasant the heat was here. (It didn’t feel hot to me.) Sam: The island is beautiful in general and the beach water is so clear you can see to the bottom.Stephanie: I love how the water is so blue and clear. Bill: At the conch salad stand, there were conch shell mountains in the water – all the conch shells from the salad making. Gabrielle: There are lots of little green geckos here inside and out. Emily: I went swimming and we saw lots of baby fish.  

Alexis (Chaperone): In our tour today, it was really interesting to hear a Biminite’s perspective of the history of his island and to see all of the things that have changed since my last visit. Gary (Chaperone): This is the only hotel I have been to where I can see the ocean from my front door and from my back door!  

We finished our day with a tram tour to learn about all the different spots on Bimini, including the location of Hemingway’s cottages, the older buildings and history of the various different spots on the island. Tomorrow will have us snorkeling from the boat and maybe searching for dolphins. Here is a picture of our group on the hotel balcony! 

Stay tuned for more exciting adventures with the DCP DRTs!

Kel, Kathleen & the DRTs

Wednesday’s boat trip began with another round of windy weather. The guests opted to have a nice snorkel stop off the beach, where the waters were calm. As headed toward the “dolphin grounds”, we wondered if we would be lucky enough to see dolphins early, yet again…. 

Then, there they were! Another large group was surfing the swells. We counted at least 20 dolphins, but the sea conditions made getting an accurate count difficult. There were many calves in the group and at one point, all the calves were suddenly synchrozing porpoising. It was quite a sight! We weren’t sure if they were “running” from something, but soon they were again by the boat. We confirmed Trudy (#57), Tilly (#87) and un-named #75 and #84 were in the group. 

A big thank you to all of this week’s passengers! Thursday I will prepare for the DRTs Saturday arrival. Stay tuned for daily field reports from the group! 

Until then,

Kel

Bimini2010_T35_sunsetMonday greeted us with a bit of wind, but that didn’t stop us from heading in search of dolphins. We had to stay close to shore and partway through the afternoon, we took a break and the passengers were able to snorkel “The Bimini Road” (aka “Atlantis”). Afterwards, we were able to make one more loop to look for dolphins – and they found us! We got a great show of bowriding and saw Tina (#14) and Tilly (#87), among others, including a very young calf. 

Tuesday morning I spent about 90 minutes talking with this week’s passengers. Although most of the guests speak mainly French, the bilingual participants helped in translation (thank you!). There were lots of great questions and enthusiasm! In the afternoon we headed out again in search of dolphins. The winds were again too strong for a swim, but the dolphins were conveniently close to the island, so we got a great sighting. There were at least 27 individuals in the group and they were busy surfing the swells. Over the course of the day, we saw Romeo (#10), White Blotch (#29), Lil’ Jess (#35), Lone Star (#56), Trudy (#57), Tim (#69), Nemo (#76), un-named #91, #92 (Niecey’s calf) and, I think, #94 (White Blotch’s soon-to-be six year old calf).  The final dolphin trip of the week is tomorrow!

Until then,

Kel

Bimini2010_T32_WaterSpoutToday’s boat trip was scheduled to depart at 1300; however, the squalls were also apparently scheduled for this time. As we waited for the bad weather to pass, I caught up on brainstorming and document editing. By 1600, we were finally given the go ahead to depart. We headed up the coast of Bimini, curious as to whether or not we would see dolphins before being driven home by the nasty weather.  

We were in luck! We saw dolphins quickly and the group size was well over a dozen. Initially the dolphins were all together, but they abruptly scattered and it seemed they may have been feeding. Over the course of the afternoon, passengers got two swims – one with a quick glimpse of dolphins and one with a bit longer viewing. We saw many calves, a very old, white spotted adult, Tina (#14), un-named #24 and 92 and possibly un-named #89. We also got a good view of a well formed water spout (pictured here). Luckily, there was plenty of room between us and this spectacle! 

Until next time,

Kel

Today marked rare Saturday start for a dolphin week with www.biminiadventures.com. Despite some challenges with delayed luggage, this week’s group was ready for dolphins when we departed the dock shortly before 1600. As we looked out into the distance, searching and searching for dolphins, I suddenly shouted out, seeing dolphins right on our bow! They snuck up on us, but then proceeded to give everyone a great view of themselves as they rode the bow and surfed in the boat’s wake. It was a group of six young dolphins, including Tilly (#87) and un-named #84 and #91. We can’t wait for more dolphins throughout the week! 

Until then,

Kel

Bimini2010_T31_CalfInAirWednesday’s dolphin trip began with a snorkel stop at The Bimini Road (aka Atlantis) – this time, folks explored the section of the stones where fish like to congregate.  Soon we were in the prime zone for seeing Atlantic spotted dolphins. We first saw dolphins at 1630 and watched them for a few minutes before losing sight of them. We had to be patient, but at 1823, we saw more! In this group, we saw Billy (#64), un-named #75 and 6 other adults. Everyone got a quick glimpse under water and we were all pleased have seen the dolphins once again. 

Thursday’s dolphin trip was jam packed! It was the final day of Bill & Nowdla Keefe’s weeklong dolphin trip and it concluded with a bang! We saw at least 16 spotteds, including Romeo (#10), Tina (#14), Lone Star (#56), Trudy (#57), Tim (#69), Nemo (#76), Stefran (#82), un-named #93 (that’s Juliette’s calf) and, I think, Juliette (#12). There were several calves in the group, including this one hurrying to the boat! Everyone got great views under water and we were all smiles back to the dock! A big thanks to everyone who was on the boat this week. I really enjoyed getting to know you all! 

Until next time,

Kel

Bimini2010_T29_022Tuesday morning began with research for an upcoming DolphinPod episode. Unfortunately, I continually request to reschedule the taping because we’ve had so many dolphin trips! I’ve never been more pleased with an excuse…But, hopefully we’ll have the new episode for you all very soon. 

Next, it was time to have a dolphin chat with a group of dolphin boat passengers. Since I am not joining their daily dolphin trips, it was great to share some of DCP’s work with them – and hear all about their experiences, concerns and appreciation for dolphins and their ocean home. Thank you!

By mid-afternoon it was time to head to the dock and out in search of dolphins. It had been two days since we had seen Bimini’s Atlantic spotteds, so we were all definitely ready for a sighting…We did not have to wait long until we saw a scattered group of bottlenose dolphins. Because of how scattered they were, we observed them from the surface for a bit and then continued in search of others. Soon, there was the tell-tale splash. We headed over and found four spotted dolphins including Tilly (#87) and un-named #91. They were very interested in riding the bow and all of the passengers got a good look. Next, we saw some big splashing in the deep water and wondering if it could be dolphins feeding. We headed that way and realized there were dolphins as far as the eye could see! A conservative estimate is that there were at least 40 dolphins scattered throughout the general area. We had some underwater observations, including one over the wall (aka in very deep water), but then we chose to observe from the boat to be sure that we were not interrupting their feeding. Once the dolphins were done feeding, they ventured into shallower water and we were able to again see them under water! Over the course of the day, we saw Buster (#04), Romeo (#10), Lumpy (#14), Split Jaw (#22, pictured here), White Blotch (#29), Lil’ Jess (#35), Swoosh (#36 – and calf?), Billy (#64), Tim (#69), un-named #24 and 75 and possibly Freckles (#15), un-named #85 and White Blotch’s 2004 calf, #94. I’ll need to review photos to be sure. As you can see, it was a busy day! 

Another dolphin trip tomorrow!

Kel

Bimini2010_T28_Tt14Monday began with sunshine, flat seas and hot temperatures. We headed to “The Bimini Road” (aka “Atlantis”) for a quick snorkel stop. The boat passengers were mixed in their opinions – is the formation natural? Were the stones placed there by humans? Are these stones part of the lost city of Atlantis? Come to Bimini and decide for yourself! 

Soon after our snorkel stop, we saw two bottlenose dolphins, including Tt#14, pictured here. The dolphins were on the move and not interested in the boat, so after we all got a good look, we continued on our way. Although not all of today’s passengers will be with us for the rest of the week, we’re looking forward to the trips! So, stay tuned! 

Until next time,

Kel

Bimini2010_T25_CalfSilThe wind had picked up slightly for Saturday’s dolphin trip, but it still great conditions for finding dolphins. I departed for the trip without the MVA, but was then invited to observe the dolphins under water while the film crew was working. So, it turned into a rare opportunity for me to personally collect some still photographs. Video and acoustic data are the priority, but still photographs can go a long way to supplementing our digital photo-ID catalog. There are quite a few photographs of adults that I will have to try to match to a catalogued animal. In total, there were 10 dolphins, including Buster (#04) and Trudy (#57). There were also two calves in the group, pictured here.  

A new “dolphin week” with Bill & Nowdla starts tomorrow. Can’t wait to meet the new passengers! 

Until then,

Kel

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