An adventure with wild dolphins.
The crystal clear waters of the Bahamas are what drove Dr. Herzing to start her study in 1985. Since then, she has observed and tracked three generations of Atlantic spotted dolphin and bottlenose dolphin during annual field seasons that last 100 days almost every summer. To date, the Bahamas is still one of the few places to observe dolphin behavior underwater. As a foremost expert in dolphin behavior, Dr. Herzing, along with other WDP staff members, will explain the nuances of communication between the dolphins, including their foraging, mating, and aggressive behavior.
We interact with the dolphins "In Their World, On Their Terms." Touching, feeding, or harassing of the dolphins is not allowed. We observe a mutual and respectful relationship with these individuals, many of whom we have known for 30 years. We have grandmothers and even grandfathers (identified by our benign genetics work collecting fecal material) who are part of the community. We work with the dolphins in the water and use still photography, video, and advanced sound recording devices to document the intimate details of the dolphin's underwater behavior. We record signature whistles, hunting sounds, and high-frequency ultrasonic vocalizations that only our equipment can capture. Please see our page describing our work on Dolphin Communication. We usually have a graduate student or two onboard, involved in their own research projects, which they are happy to share with you.
Because our focus is research, we only have a maximum of six participants on any given trip to insure an intimate experience with research remaining the priority. Participants will be able to assist our staff while gaining exposure with collecting scientific data in the field. In between the dolphin work, we usually snorkel on different shipwrecks, our crew will fish for our dinner, or we will just observe the spectacular sunsets. We use only snorkel equipment during our work, and participants should be comfortable in the water for extended periods of time and have some practice snorkeling before participating. Please read A Typical Day on Stenella for more details.
Participants usually depart with the research crew from Florida on Tuesday mornings, cross the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas, and return to Florida 9 days later, debarking on Wednesday afternoon. Although we occasionally do shorter trips, we find that 9 days minimizes the interruptions of weather and other issues, insuring the possibility of some time with the dolphins on each trip, since they are free-ranging animals.
R/V Stenella is an open-ocean catamaran, ideal for anchoring in these shallow waters. She is a comfortable vessel, with an open living and dining area, two shared quarters, four bathrooms, and plenty of fresh and healthy food. Onboard we live family style, where everyone interacts and helps on a daily basis. Fresh water is made from the ocean using a reverse osmosis water maker. We recycle and try to minimize our impact on the ocean during our field season.
Our research vessel houses archival materials for you to review, including our ID catalogs of dolphin families, and multiple documentaries by BBC, Nature, and others that cover our work in the media.
We are looking forward to continuing our work studying and observing Atlantic spotted and Bottlenose dolphins next summer which will be our 38th consecutive year in the field!
Updated: September 28, 2021
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The trip price (TBA) includes everything needed for 9-days at sea. We require payment in full in order to fully reserve your spot. The sign-up instructions provide more details. For more information contact Melissa, the trip coordinator 561-575-5660 firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Are you a student? Internship information can be found here.
In December, the upcoming summer schedule will be open for sign-ups by members only. To be added to the 2022 trip inquiry list, email your contact information to our trip coordinator at email@example.com. During the first week of January, open spots will emailed to those on the inquiry list and the remaining open spots will then posted online for the general public to sign up.
Email the following information to our trip coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also call our office with any questions 561-575-5660.
PLEASE EMAIL THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION
- Full Name
- Traveling from (State, Country)
- Email address
- Phone number
- Is participant younger than 18 years of age? (Yes* or No)
- Preferred trip number (or trip dates) or if you would like to be placed on a waiting list for a trip that is currently full
Email your contact information (as listed above) and preferred trip number/dates to email@example.com. Our trip coordinator will confirm availability for your preferred trip and reply with a short application and provide methods of payment. A 50% deposit is required to reserve your spot and the balance must be paid within 30 days. Credit cards, check, and Paypal are all accepted.
Your completed application and payment in full are needed to fully secure your spot on the trip. Trip details such as packing guidelines and marina instructions will then be provided.
*If the participant is under 18 years of age and NOT traveling with a legal guardian: Provide name and contact information for the legal guardian(s). A medical waiver will need to be completed by the participant's physician and notarized by a legal guardian.
Blogs are available here. Thank you for your interest in joining our research trips!