BIM12_T77_TtMy fingers had been crossed all week as I hoped for good weather on Saturday. This time of year, I don't get to join many dolphin trips, but I look forward to them whenever they do come up. Although I felt a bit rusty, I was excited as I headed to the dock Saturday afternoon. I was greeted by a small group of very excited and friendly Bimini Undersea guests and we all kept an eye out for dolphins - in between the rolling swells! It was far from a glass calm day, but the dolphins made it easy for us and appeared right next to the boat. At first we saw two Atlantic spotted calves, so we knew there must be moms nearby. Sure enough, the group size soon grew to four. We definitely saw Lil' Jess (#35) and her calf as well as Leslie's calf (soon to be ID#99). Since that little one was there, it's likely the fourth dolphin was Leslie (#80) herself. I didn't get a good enough look to be sure, but this dolphin was the right size and age to be Leslie. The mom and calf group was moving too fast (enjoying the surf!) for us to get in the water, but we all enjoyed watching them from the boat.

When this sighting was over, we resumed the search. There was a rain squall to our north and the sun was bouncing between clear skies and clouds, but our captain spotted a group of active bottlenose dolphins. We got a great look at this group of at least ten individuals. They were surfing and chasing each other - and possibly chasing fish too. At one point a school of very small fish started racing out of the water. We all looked to see what was chasing them - not a dolphin mammal, but it looked like a dolphin fish!

Although our dolphin watching was limited to the surface, we all had a great day.

Until next time, Kel

BIM12_WrightBeachCleanupDEIt was a great remainder of our program with Linzi from DE-Project BEACH. On Saturday we were up early for our cleanup of Radio Beach in Alice Town. Kel represented DCP Conservation Member Sarah (thanks Sarah!) and Linzi brought bags, gloves and Ocean Conservancy data cards. At first, it was a small team: we were joined by a great American family visiting Bimini. They worked together, keeping track of the litter they collected so that Linzi could submit the information to the Ocean Conservancy. Although we were so happy to have the support of Bimini's guests - it was great to have the type of visitors who wanted to give back to the island - we couldn't help but be a bit disappointed that no locals joined the efforts. But wait! A fantastic group of people joined us mid-morning and made up for lost time! We collected 23 bags of trash, plus several bags of recyclable bottles and cans and a pile of bulk items. The kids all received their "Beach Buddy MVP" button from Dolphin Encounters.

On Sunday, I was able to give a full tour of North Bimini to Linzi, including sharing information about Bimini's Marine Protected Area. On Monday it was school visit day and Linzi gave fantastic presentations about endangered species, marine debris and coral reefs to all three of the public school campuses. It was great seeing the young primary students enthusiasm, hearing the 4th, 5th and 6th graders Bimini boa stories, seeing the pride in the high school students' eyes and meeting teachers and principals who want to help make Bimini's education system better each year. We capped off the day with a second round of beach cleanup efforts, this time at the southern point of North Bimini and along the sea plane ramp. With some repeat Beach Buddies and some new faces, we collected another half dozen bags of trash, plus recyclables and bulk items, and everyone headed home with smiles on their faces, talking of getting their friends to join next time.

It was a fantastic weekend of dolphins and community efforts. I look forward to DCP's next visit to Dolphin Encounters - and the next Dolphin Encounters visit to Bimini!

Until next time,

Kel

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