Thursday started off like most days, with a few hours of data processing, and then the regular routine of lunch and getting ready to go out on the water.BIM13_T29_MixedAgeSpotteds

However, the forecast was a bit murky - just like the sky! As we headed out on our normal dolphin route, we noticed some intimidating clouds to our west. We continued for a little while before the clouds were above us, leaving us scrambling for our raincoats. We turned the boat around and anchored it to a mooring line on a nearby dive site to wait the storm out. We were moored for about ten minutes before the sky was blue and shining above us once again.

With clearer skies, we headed back out to look for dolphins. While continuing with our loop, our captain got a friendly tip and soon enough we saw a rather large group of spotted dolphins - at least 11 individuals! Captain Al quickly got the guests ready to jump into the water because the current was going to pull us away from the dolphins! Sure enough, when we got into the water the dolphins were right in front of us! We (Salma & Nicole) managed to even identify Split Jaw (#22) and Billy (#64). Identifying two dolphins in the field felt great! But, there were other dolphins, young and old, like those pictured here, so hopefully we’ll be able to identify even more when we review the video.

Though the water was a bit murky after the squall, we were able to collect a bit of video & photographic data. The interns are still learning the art of collecting underwater video footage and at the same time learning first-hand the unpredictable nature of the ocean! But, we’re hanging in there, and certainly excited for the next opportunity we'll have to see the dolphins!

Until then,
Salma, Nicole & Kel

BIM13_T28_3Sisters_NicoleWednesday began with all three of us heading over to the Sea Crest Hotel to chat about dolphins and DCP with Bimini Adventures’ international guests. Everyone was very involved and asked lots of questions. The interns also felt confident enough to step up and answer a few questions this time. All in all it was a great morning!

We then headed back and worked on some data processing until the boat was scheduled to leave. It was a bit windier than Tuesday but the interns once again set off on a boat full of excited guests. Our course gradually became rougher and Captain Al decided it would be fruitless to try to search for dolphins in those conditions, so we turned ourselves around. In order to ensure that everyone had a fun trip despite not having seen any dolphins by that point, we stopped by Three Sisters for a snorkeling adventure. It is always a treat to explore the reef habitats around Bimini to see the multitude of colorful fish and coral species. We all had a great time.

Once aboard the boat, we again tried our dolphin course in the hopes that some dolphins might appear. After about half an hour we had to head in the direction of home. Unfortunately, we never saw any dolphins. Of course, we were all disappointed, but it's always a good learning experience to realize that the dolphins we look for are unpredictable and our plans are at the mercy of the weather. We are still looking forward to going out again to see if we can find them next time!

Until then,

Nicole, Salma & Kel

Monday was a day of surprises and good fortune. It began as a clear sunny morning and we worked on data analysis before getting ready to head outBIM13_T26_CuriousSfs on the boat. Two hours before the boat was supposed to leave, it began pouring rain! Salma and Nicole were quite concerned about the possibility of not being able to go out on the water but Kel explained that the weather here can change in a short time. And sure enough, by 3 pm the sky was clear and we were able to climb aboard the Bimini Adventures boat once again to search for dolphins. This time, we found some right at the mouth of the harbor! A group of bottlenose dolphins took us by surprise and we were able to take a few dorsal fin photos for the catalog. After a short time spent observing these dolphins, we continued on our course to look for others. About an hour later a group of Atlantic spotted dolphins appeared! It was a group of seven, including Tina (#14)! Fifteen minutes later, another group of four joined the original seven and shortly after that we were able to get in the water to swim with them. Believe it or not, this was actually the first time our interns had the chance to swim with spotted dolphins! After a ten minute encounter we were back on board and had the opportunity to observe the group from the boat for another hour. The group had since grown to 13, with at least 3 calves, 3 juveniles and some sub-adults and adults. One of the energetic calves seemed to be practicing fluke-slaps, a skill it might have learned recently. We were able to swim with this group two more times and we got some great underwater photos that we can use to identify the dolphins later.

The afternoon was jam-packed with dolphin sightings: Captain Al had seen a group of bottlenose dolphins while the rest of us were watching the spotteds by the boat and then on our way back to the dock we saw two more groups of bottlenose! What a treat!

It was an incredible day on the water that ended with the sun out and shining! Life on the island can be unpredictable and we are so glad the rainy day turned out so well in the end. We cannot wait to go out again very soon!

Until then,

Nicole, Salma & Kel

Tuesday was another day out on the water for DCP. Though it started off with data analysis and office work, like most other days, it took a different turn when it came time to go out on the water.

The wind was a bit strong, and so that called for rougher waters. However, Bimini Research manager Kel Melillo-Sweeting had enough faith in the interns to give them a crash course on how to collect underwater focal-follow video data. We hadn't been out for very long when we came across a group of spotted dolphins. The best thing about this group of dolphins was that little by little new additions would join the group until by the end we had a total of 12 dolphins! There were plenty of little ones swimming around and being super playful and (seemingly) practicing the art of fluke slapping. Because, perhaps, the water was a bit choppier, the dolphins often leapt out of the water; it was especially amazing when two younger dolphins leapt together. All of the dolphins were riding the surf and the bow wake. The younger dolphins all seemed very excited, and would frequently flip upside down – perhaps to get a good look at the boat, but no matter why, we got a good view of their bright pink bellies. For the first couple underwater encounters, the dolphins were diving down, crater feeding and rubbing their bodies in the sand. Some were also playing with seagrass and rubbing their bodies all over that as well.

The water was getting a bit rougher and so we headed back closer to the island in the hopes that we would see another group of dolphins in calmer seas. Sure enough we happened upon another group of dolphins. This group was a bit smaller than the first; however, there were still plenty of dolphins around. Everyone was able to get in the water again and this last encounter lasted quite a while - almost 25 minutes! The dolphins were very interactive and would zip in and out of the group of people. It’s as if the dolphins were intrigued by the people in the water and everyone wanted to get a good look at the strange creatures with fins and masks!

Everyone hopped back on board with huge smiles on their faces! It was a great day with dolphins regardless of the rougher waters. The interns learned the difficulty of collecting underwater video data and by the end of the trip were feeling more comfortable collecting the data. We just can't wait until we can try again and get better!

Until next time,
Salma, Nicole & Kel

BIM13_T25_NicoleWatchesSfThe majority of Friday and Saturday was spent indoors analyzing data and hiding from the sun due to our burns from Thursday’s long boat trip. By Sunday, however, our noses were peeling and we felt less afraid of the sun, which was good since we needed to head back on the water to look for more dolphins!

But first, Sunday morning was spent doing some office work and continuing analysis of video data for social quality. After lunch, we got ready to go out on the water for the afternoon with an international group of guests; most were Swiss, but Austria, Sweden and Norway were also represented. Conversation on the water was quite interesting because many languages were being spoken! When we happened upon a group of bottlenose dolphins however, everyone spoke the same language of excitement and awe. We did not swim with this group of dolphins as they were traveling and would have left us in their wake by the time we got into the water. But after observing the dolphins from the boat and snapping a few surface pictures of their dorsal fins for our ID catalogue, we searched for some dolphins that weren't on the move. When we reached the new group, there were four dolphins, one of which was a squirmy small calf! The baby was swimming all over; venturing a bit away from its mama, swimming between the port and starboard sides of the boat and riding the bow wake, but it always stopped with its mama between the loops. We a brief underwater observation with this group before they were joined by two new additions, one of which was a calf! Our second encounter was longer than the first one, but still a bit brief. We got back on the boat for one more go, and found the same group, but this time with four new additions to the group, another one being a calf! We got in one more time before we had to go home, and it was awesome! The guests and dolphins seemed excited, especially so with the three super playful and curious calves! It was definitely a different experience, after snorkeling with the bottlenose dolphins, which were mellow in comparison to their spotted dolphin counterparts!

After our dolphin adventure, we headed back home. The sun was quickly setting and we were all the way out on the edge of the continental shelf! We made it back to the dock with smiles on our faces and excited for the next day on the water!

Until next time,

Salma, Nicole & Kel

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