Florida Work Day 9-19-2018

The Bahamas summer field season has come to an end, but that doesn’t mean our days on the water are over. We also conduct surveys along part of our Florida coast under an NMFS permit.

On Wednesday last week we took advantage of the calm, glassy waters and went searching for dolphins.

As soon as we turned out of the inlet there was a group of 10 bottlenose dolphins! They were surfacing, sticking close to the boat, and some were even bow riding as you can see in the pictures below. What a way to start off the morning!

After we had captured dorsal fin shots of these 10 bottlenose we continued on our way up north. At about mid-day we came across a larger group of bottlenose, closer to shore. There were about 20 of them and they would surface together in groups of about 5 or so. Below are two pictures of the dolphins where you can easily see the shore in the background. With the dolphins coming in so close, it’s always important to remember to be aware of what is in the water if you are driving a boat or jet ski. If you see dolphins or any other marine creatures, please slow down so that they can maneuver out of harms way and you can avoid them.

From the larger group, I was able to get some really nice dorsal fin shots. The shot below shows you a group of three dolphins with their dorsal fins above the surface. Look at how different those fins are! This is how we ID bottlenose dolphins, by mostly using their markings on the dorsal fins since this is the only body part we see on a more regular basis. Not all the dorsal fins have markings, however when they do it helps with the ID process.

As our day was nearing a close, we had one more encounter with a group of about 4 bottlenose. They would come to the surface briefly, and then dive for about 2 minutes at a time. This made photographing them a little bit more difficult, but also left you wondering what they were doing below the surface for 2 minutes at a time.

Overall, this was a successful Florida work day! Hopefully next time we will see some spotted dolphins too!

-Cassie Volker, Research Assistant