Last month, we had one of our best days yet out on the water!
We got off to a quick start not long after we began the survey with our first sighting. This sighting consisted of just two dolphins, likely a mother and her juvenile calf. When we sighted them, they were just slowly traveling with some longer dives. These dives made it a kind of cat-and-mouse game trying to predict where they would surface next, so we could be close enough in the boat to get the fin photos we need.
Our second sighting began not long after. Initially we only sighted two dolphins, another mom/calf pair who were very curious about the boat. However, it became quickly apparent that they weren’t the only two, as every direction we looked, we saw more dolphins in the distance. We did our best to photograph as many fins as we could, but the fluid, ever-changing social groupings made it very difficult to tell which animals we had already seen, and which were new. Different dolphins were constantly moving in and out of each group and moving off indifferent directions. They were also engaging in variable behavior throughout the sighting, the most prominent being social interaction with each other and foraging. They were spread out over such a large area that it was very difficult to get an accurate estimate of the number of dolphins in the sighting. It wasn’t until the photos were sorted and processed after the fact that we discovered there were at least 34 different animals throughout the sighting!
The last sighting was by far the easiest, with another two dolphins in one of the bayside channels. These two were just slowly traveling to the south and made it very easy for us to get the photos we needed in between bouts of boat traffic.
Overall, it was a very successful survey day, and we got a lot of great data on movement patterns and social structure of the population!