On Friday, we left the dock at our usual time and went to our usual spots, but unfortunately, it was one of those days when we did not see dolphins. This was not for lack of trying! Our curiosity is always peaked on these days, wondering where the dolphins are and what they are doing. Thankfully the family on the boat, although disappointed, had a great attitude. Thank you for your great conversation during what turned out to be a nice boat ride! 

Until tomorrow,

Kel

Bimini2010_T24_SfC3I returned to Bimini early Thursday afternoon just in time for a dolphin trip. This was a private charter with Nowdla Keefe by an Animal Planet (Discovery Channel) film crew. It meant that I would not be able to record video and acoustic data with DCP’s MVA, but it was still a chance to see which dolphins, how many were observed as well as where, when and for how long. We first saw a skittish group of five Atlantic spotteds, including Juliette’s calf, un-named #93. Although #93 was interested in riding the bow of the boat, the others repeatedly changed direction and seemed quite unsettled. We decided to leave this group and go in search of others.

Just moments later there were between three and five bottlenose dolphins. The film crew actually observed them “fishing” out a trumpet fish from within a gorgonian! It appeared to be playing with it, but we’re not sure if it ate it. Very cool! After the bottlenose dolphins left, we continued on as well. We were lucky enough to see even more spotted dolphins – this time a group of at least 30 individuals! That is about on par with the largest group size ever observed here, although we try to be conservative in our count estimates. The majority of the dolphins did not stay near the boat, but we were able to see Romeo (#10), Tina (#14), Lil’ Jess (#35), Swoosh (#36), Trudy (#57), Nemo (#76), Tilly (#87), un-named #75 and 84. Tilly’s injuries continue to heal nicely and the film crew got lots of footage. The dolphins were quite active at the surface, including this young juvenile who decided to get some air! 

If the weather cooperates, Thursday’s boat trip marks the first in a series of 8 dolphin trips in a row. So, stayed tuned for lots of field reports! 

Until next time,

Kel

Bimini2010_T23_TtWe left the dock today at 1540 with high hopes of finding dolphins. Soon we were in the “dolphin grounds” and there they were….a group of at least 5 bottlenose dolphins. Included in the group is the dolphin pictured here – we need to compare the shape of and nicks in the dorsal fin, but at first glance we suspect this is a “new” animal! It is possible, of course, that it is an already cataloged individual who has new nicks. We were unfortunately dealing with some added boat traffic in the area. Rather than crowd the dolphins, we headed in search of others.  

As we kept our eyes on the developing squalls, we saw splashes. And the splashes were not dolphins. Sigh. But, soon there were dolphins! Six young Atlantic spotted dolphins were soon near the boat, including Tilly (#87), un-named #91 and four other young dolphins. They were briefly interested in the boat, but then became too scattered to observe the group under water. Although we tried to find another group of dolphins, the approaching squalls meant it was time to get back to shore. A big thanks to www.biminiadventures.com for another great day in search of dolphins! 

More tomorrow,

Kel & Tara

Bimini2010_T22_ID084On Monday’s trip we had high hopes of seeing the dolphins, but unfortunately they didn’t seem to want to be found! On Wednesday we were certain that we would see them. We left the dock around 1530 and looked and looked for them. We saw a few fake-out splashes, but finally we found them! At first we only saw one Atlantic spotted dolphin, which is very unusual, so we were confident there were more in the area. Sure enough, once we starting searching, we saw scattered dolphins all around! It looked like they were feeding and we were not close enough to identify individuals. But, then a group of three calves came by the boat. They were soon joined by un-named #84 and Tilly #87. The calves put on quite a show with their leaping! Then we were able to have a 10 minute swim with them. In this picture, you can see un-named #84 taking a breath. All in all, it was a great day! 

Until tomorrow,

Kel & Tara

Bimini 2010_T20_ID69On Wednesday, the conditions were perfect in Bimini for an unexpected dolphin trip. The water was so calm and glassy; we could see cushion stars on the sea floor as we passed by! We searched for the dolphins for awhile and finally we saw them! At first we saw a handful of bottlenose dolphins, but they were clearly just passing through. The next group, however, was made up of 13 dolphins and there was a mix of bottlenose and spotted with the majority of them being males (or should we say, all those we were able to confirm were male). The dolphins, particularly the spotteds, appeared to be very interested in the SCUBA divers and their cameras, and the SCUBA divers seemed pleased with the footage they were able to record. So far, we have been able to confirm that bottlenose ID#06 was there, along with spotted dolphins Split Jaw (#22), Prince William (aka Billy, #64), Tim (#69, pictured here) and Speedy (#78). Overall it was a great day!  

Memorial Day weekend is a big weekend here in Bimini for US tourists. We’ll see if that equals dolphin trips for us! 

Until then,

Kel & Tara

Bimini2010_T19At 1500 it was time for another unexpected dolphin trip – no complaints here! Today’s trip was with two filmmakers, so it was set up to be my first observation of the dolphins with SCUBA divers. The seas were very calm, but we still couldn’t help but wonder if the dolphins would be a no show. Then…we saw them. Then…we didn’t. We waited for a few minutes and sure enough, there they were. It was a large group with at least 6 spotteds and 4 bottlenose. They were definitely more into each other than us or the boat though, so we headed in search of others. Closer the island we saw a leaping calf and distant (presumed) mother. We followed them for a bit and soon we could see at least 10 dolphins, including un-named #43 (and calf) and #91. The dolphins gave a nice show to the videographers and even I was able to get some nice photos! Many were of calves though, so the photo-ID use will be limited. All in all, another great day! 

Until next time,

Kel

Today began with emails and website and manuscript reviews. It was very productive, but was interrupted by a surprise dolphin trip – oh, darn! We left the harbor soon after 1600 and kept our eyes on the sea, looking for that telltale splash or dorsal fin breaking the surface. We were not disappointed and saw several different groups of dolphins. They were fairly scattered and some appeared to be playing while others were feeding. We had a very nice 15 minute swim with three youngsters, including Niecey’s calf (#92). It is looking more and more like #92 is independent from mom! From the boat, we think we saw Niecey (#48), but we definitely saw Romeo (#10), Lil’ Jess (#35), Tilly (#87) and un-named #84. There were two very young calves that gave all the boat passengers a great show, swimming and leaping all about! It was a great afternoon! 

Until next time,

Kel

Bimini2010_T17_Tt06Thursday was the final full day of the 2010 Bimini Eco-Tour. We began with our usual morning meeting, reviewing photos and videos from the day before, discussing hot dolphin topics and chatting about all types of other things – including the great new bakery in Alice Town! Everyone had a few hours free to eat lunch, explore, swim at the beach, anything. Around 1515, our dolphin boat arrived (thank you Bill, Nowdla & the rest of the Wild Dolphin Adventures crew!) and we were headed out. We stopped for a snorkel at the “Bimini Road” (aka “Atlantis”) and enjoyed a swim after Bill’s great background information. Soon, it was time to search for dolphins… 

The dolphins seemed to have spoiled us during the previous two dolphin trips, and at 1800, we found ourselves wondering where they were! Of course, it is quite normal to not see dolphins until the later part of the trip so we stayed patient. And, we were again delighted to see them! Initially we saw what appeared to be another mother/calf group, with some juveniles mixed in. Later we saw a large group that appeared to be mating and we got a glimpse at bottlenose dolphins in the mix! Bottlenose ID#06 was one of those present (pictured here); this marks the fourth year we have seen this dolphin off Bimini (’06, ’07, ’08, ’10). Although our underwater observation was shorter today, it was great seeing so many dolphins. Included in the group were: Tina (#14), Lone Star (#56), Trudy (#57) and un-named#75 and #93. ID#93 is Juliette’s (#12) baby, so it was quite likely that Juliette was in there as well. Kel also thinks she saw Lil’ Jess (#35) and un-named #86. ID#86 is currently waiting for a name! Click here for details. 

We said goodbye to the boat crew and passengers once we were back to the dock. Then we met for a nice farewell dinner. A big, big, big thanks to our 2010 eco-tour participants. Your enthusiasm, interest and support of DCP’s work are greatly appreciated! 

Until next trip,

Kel, Tara & the eco-tour guests

Wednesday morning we reviewed photos and videos from yesterday’s trip and chatted about dolphins. Two of us opted to take a mangrove tour, which included a visit to Bimini’s “Healing Hole,” a natural sulfur spring located within the mangroves. It was nice to see the “other” side of Bimini! On the boat, we headed straight in search of dolphins. We were not disappointed as we found a mother/calf group very quickly! Some of the same dolphins were there as we saw on Tuesday, including Niecey (#48 – with calf?) and un-ID #91. We observed some great bow riding (7 dolphins at once!) before hopping in the water for an underwater encounter. The dolphins seemed slightly calmer than yesterday, but still full of energy. The young juveniles and calves were most interested in checking out the silly humans and enjoyed the interaction. Once we were back onboard, the crew determined that we needed to head back to the island, as there were a good number of thunderstorms in the area. A big thanks to the dolphins for visiting us so early! 

Tomorrow will be the last dolphin trip of the week! 

Until then,

Kel, Tara & the eco-tour guests

Bimini2010_T15_057Unfortunately, we experienced the disappointment of no dolphins on Monday’s dolphin trip. The seas were much calmer, however, so at least it made for a nice boat ride! With optomistic spirits, we headed out into even calmer seas on Tuesday… 

After a nice snorkel stop at “3 Sisters”, we continued our search. We were not disappointed as we found a mother/calf group very early! At first, there were 4 mother/calf pairs (all Atlantic spotted dolphins), but the group size grew to at least 14 individuals! Plus, we could see even more dolphins in the distance. We had a few great swims with very energetic young dolphins. There was lots of fast circle swimming, synchronized ascents and descents, sand rubbing and surfing. Everyone got a great view and some people were even able to try “towing” whereby passengers hang onto a rope behind the boat – which is only going 1-2 knots. But, this extra speed seems to interest the dolphins and folks got some very close eyeball-to-eyeball action! 

By the end of the day we had seen Romeo (#10), Lil’ Jess (#35), Niecey (#48 – with a new calf?) Trudy (pictured here,#57 – also with a calf?), Nemo (#76), Leslie (#80) and un-named #91 and #92. We have two more dolphin trips this week; we hope we are as lucky as we were today! 

Until then,

Kel, Tara & the eco-tour group

Bimini2010_T13_029Sunday was Day 1 of DCP’s 2010 Bimini eco-tour! Our three participants arrived safely and after orientation, we were headed in search of dolphins with Bill & Nowdla Keefe! Unfortunately, the seas were on the rough side, but we have high hopes that things will calm down over the course of the week. Our first stop was “Rainbow Reef” and a chance for everyone to practice with their snorkel gear and getting on and off the boat. Everyone did fantastically! 

We ventured into the “dolphin grounds” although we knew we might not be able to stray too far. We got a glimpse of a single bottlenose dolphin to warm up and before long, we were watching White Blotch (#29), Trudy (#57), a young juvenile and a calf surfing the waves! After observing the group from the boat, it was time for folks to try the water! Everyone got a great view of the dolphin group as they continued to surf and check out all the humans. We look forward to seeing the photographs! 

Another trip tomorrow!

Kel, Tara & the eco-tour group!

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