DCP is pleased to welcome our 2013 summer interns, Nicole and Salma, to Bimini! After working hard at our Connecticut (USA) office for the last sixBIM13_InternsFirstView weeks, they made way their way to our Bimini field site on Monday.

Nicole: I started the trip to Bimini a day early with a drive down from Connecticut to the Newark airport where the first flight would take off. Monday morning began with impressive New Jersey traffic but I still made it in time to check in. An uneventful plane ride to Ft. Lauderdale later, I walked across the tarmac to board the prop-plane (with pink engines!) that would take me to Bimini.

Salma: My journey to Bimini, on the other hand, was a chaotic one. Despite arriving at Dulles International two hours prior to the departure of my flight to Cleveland I missed it by a few seconds and was put on the next flight to Chicago which departed 2 hours later! The next two connecting flights were a blur. I almost missed the LAST flight to Bimini because of a short lay-over time but the woman at the booth radioed the men on the tarmac to hold the plane and luckily they waited for me!

Watching those beautiful islands come into view from afar was so breath-taking. We have never seen water this clear except for in photographs. Once on the island we realized that we had been on that plane together without even knowing it! We automatically fell in love with the Bahamian accents that the residents donned. Everyone was so nice, and even the immigration officer greeted us with a smile and a joke to get the others to hurry up inside the airport. They didn't keep us there for very long, and so we boarded the bus that would take us from the small airport to the water taxi. Salma was in the front seat and boy was she confused when the bus driver drove on the left side of the road even though the steering wheel was on the left side of the vehicle! What a surprising mixture of British and American driving! The water taxi ride turned out to be less than five minutes and suddenly we were on North Bimini Island!

It was immediately very clear that this would be an amazing experience. Everyone here seems to know one another and even if you don't know anyone, every other person will wave and smile at you and greet you as if you hadn't just arrived to the island earlier that afternoon. We even got a ride to our hotel from a very friendly woman who saw us struggling with our bags! After settling in we decided to explore the island. We were lucky enough to have arrived on a beautiful sunny day so we started by going to the beach. The sand was so white and soft, the water such an amazing shade of blue, and the whole experience so awe-inspiring, that we didn't want to leave so we started walking instead. We made it all the way to the other end of the island and there we met another generous soul who gave us a ride back down the main road to the Sea Crest. Oh, did we mention that the major form of transportation on this small island is in the form of golf carts?? How clever!

Our second and third days here have been a bit rainier than the first but we are so excited to be here! We cannot wait to go out on the water, meet some new people on the eco-tours and to of course meet some dolphins!

Until next time,

Nicole & Salma

BIM13_T21_5C3s in sandOn Wednesday, I was finally able to get back on the water. A major squall was threatening to the south, but as the guests enjoyed their snorkel at “3 Sisters,” we watched as it just fell apart, leaving only sunny skies in its wake. So, with optimism, we headed into “the dolphin grounds…”

In the midst of our chatting, the dolphins appeared, seemingly out of nowhere! At first it was just one, then two, then three…until there were five young dolphins, with no adults in site. We didn’t have to wait long before the captain said it was time to give a swim a chance! Once we were in the water, we could see that all five Atlantic spotted dolphins were indeed juveniles. And although they had likely been independent from their mothers for some time, they seemed to be enjoying their freedom from watchful adult eyes. They were busy searching for fish buried in the sand – and playing with them before they ate them! It was a blast to observe and everyone enjoyed it when the dolphins came closer to check us out. For DCP, this might mean several new additions to our photo-ID catalog!

Happy and content, we headed back to shore…

Until next time,

Kel

BIM13_T16_LilJess_C2On Saturday, Kathleen and Justin arrived on Bimini, marking the first time that we have all been together at one of DCP’s field sites – ever! It took us no time to get to chatting about all things DCP. Before we knew it, it was definitely time to call it a night as we have a big week ahead of us…

On Sunday morning, we all met at the Sea Crest while awaiting the arrival of the BBC film crew we’ll be working with this week. After a short delay, we headed into the breeze in search of dolphins. Although there was more of a chop than we would have liked, the dolphins could not have been more cooperative. Just before 2 p.m., we saw a large group of spotted dolphins – at least 20! They were surfing the swells and we saw Lil’ Jess (#35), (presumably) her calf (pictured here, taking a breath together) and Tilly (#87). Once in the water, we also saw Inka (#93) and, we think, Leslie’s calf. Wonder if we’ll be able to find Leslie (#80) in the video…

As the dolphins departed, we looked around, and then suddenly there were four bottlenose dolphins. These dolphins went right to the bottom and were gone moments later. Back on the boat, we looked for more dolphins, and did not have to wait long. This time, it was a group of four spotteds, all older. Included in this group were Romeo (#10) and Tim (#69). We ended our day with a third sighting of nine dolphins – Romeo (#10) seemed to have joined some other dolphins, including two young calves. Lots of data to analyze!

Tomorrow, another day on the water!

Until then,

Kel, Kathleen & Justin

We had such a great week in Bimini that our field reports had to take a back seat! We’ll fill you on everything…

On Monday, we joined another boat trip in search of Bimini’s dolphins with the BBC film crew. The dolphin observations were great. There was a large group of spotteds and their interactions included lots of physical contact, postures and range of vocalizations. Included in the group were several males (Split Jaw #22, Prince William #69, Tim #69, Speedy #78, un-named #95) and females on the outskirt (Tina #14, Lil’ Jess #35). Later in the day we had one more water entry, but the dolphins just cruised by; hopefully we’ll be able to identify at least a few from the videoBIM13_KD_JG_KMS.

On Tuesday, we began the day on land, discussing Monday’s observations. Shortly after noon, it was time for more boat work, but squalls had us running for cover. After waiting out the storms, we had one last chance for dolphins: and we found them! This time, we focused on surface observations while the crew tackled aerial shots. The helicopter came really (really!) close to the boat!

Wednesday was our last day on the boat – and it was a long one! Ready to go at 7 a.m., we did not get off the boat again until after 8 p.m. The day began with early bottlenose, the crew’s first chance to this species around Bimini. We collected lots of dorsal fin images to process with our photo-ID catalog, but the dolphins were too spread out to observe them under water. Although we did not find any other dolphins in the afternoon, everyone was happy with how the week progressed.

We spent Thursday morning addressing the final pieces of our to-do list. It is so rare that we are all together, it felt so good to get so much accomplished – and just visit!

Until next time,

Kel, Kathleen & Justin

BIM13_SHUdepartsOn Sunday the SHU students gathered for breakfast, still excited from their big day with reef fish, dolphins, stingrays and sharks yesterday. But, after nearly two weeks on Bimini, they took just a short bit of their morning to give back to this wonderful, welcoming island and did a beach clean-up on Radio Beach. Thankfully, there actually wasn’t all that much litter (although the bags collected still meant too much!), but they collected what they found and then cooled off in the Bimini blue sea. After final packing, photo swapping and lunch, it was all too suddenly time to head to the airport. Onto the water taxi they went, retracing their steps back to the South Bimini airport. The flight was delayed, but at least everyone made it safely to Fort Lauderdale, where many parted ways.

It was absolutely fantastic to have this group of students, from a variety of schools across the US (and a recent grad from the UK!). Their enthusiasm, awe and kindness had them standing out from the crowd. I look forward to the next course from Sacred Heart University!

Until next time,

Kel

Contact Us

Write to us via snail-mail at:

Dolphin Communication Project
P.O. Box 7485
Port St. Lucie, FL, 34985
USA

Email us:

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