From the Field- February 2023

It was a very successful January for the Photo-ID team. We completed 5 surveys and observed a total of ~80 dolphins in 11 separate groups. Group sizes ranged from 2 dolphins to 28 dolphins. Many of these dolphins have been previously cataloged, so we continue building on their individual sighting histories. Several new dolphins, including newborn calves were also observed as we continue adding to our catalog, now numbering more than 400 individual dolphins.

Of special interest, the group of 28 was the largest group that we’ve seen in the Florida Bay. Larger groups have been observed, but typically we encounter them in the Atlantic. We also re-sighted two dolphins suspected of being a male-bonded pair as they had been observed together on previous sightings. In January we encountered this pair three more times helping to confirm our theory that this was a long-standing male coalition! Male-bonded pairs, where two males stay together most of their lives and work together to hunt and to sequester females are a common occurrence in bottlenose dolphin society.

Photo-ID surveys are conducted under a special NOAA Fisheries permit issued to the Principal Investigator Steve McCulloch. Otherwise, when watching marine mammals from a boat, the public is encouraged to remain at least 100 yards away from whales and at least 50 yards away from dolphins, porpoises, seals, and sea lions.