‘JUMPING FOR JOY’: CHEERFUL DOLPHINS IN ABACO WATERS


Dolphin, one of a pod of 50

‘JUMPING FOR JOY’: CHEERFUL DOLPHINS IN ABACO WATERS 

To be totally accurate, one or two of these photographs may have be take from the BMMRO research vessel at some point during an expedition to Andros. But since the boat set off from and returned to Abaco, with an Abaconian team on board, I have stretched a point  with the title… 

It would be hard to view a dolphin leap as high as this (top photo) as anything other than an expression of pure enjoyment. Difficult to tell the exact height, but it’s fairly spectacular. Dolphins always seem to be looking, or acting, happy. Here are a few more, a mix of bottlenose and spotted dolphins,  to spread some cheer… 

Dolphin Leap Abaco ©BMMROSpotted Dolphin, Abaco ©BMMROSpotted Dolphin Abaco ©BMMROHappy Dolphin Abaco ©BMMRO

This dolphin was one of a large pod of 28 seen on a recent BMMRO research tripOne of a large pod of 28 dolphins

Time to get my… erm… paintbox outLeaping DolphinPhoto credits: Bahamas  Marine Mammal Research Organisation BMMRO

In an earlier post I name-checked BMMRO intern Oscar Ward’s blog SeventyPercentBlue.  You can read Oscar’s account of his continuing adventures HERE

“MANATEE MANIA IN THE ABACOS” BMMRO FALL 2012 NEWSLETTER


“MANATEE MANIA IN THE ABACOS” – BMMRO FALL 2012 NEWSLETTER

The BMMRO has just published the Fall 2012 newsletter, and it’s no surprise to find that the front page news is the arrival of young manatee Georgie on Abaco. After nosing and indeed grazing her way around Abaco and the Cays, she still appears to be contentedly moored in Cherokee after the best part of a month. Here’s the official map of her wanderings 

Besides the manatee there’s plenty more to read and look at including 

  • Charlotte Dunn’s ‘President’s Update’
  • Articles on whales, and a friendly bottlenose dolphin’s visit to Hope Town
  • Fall ‘cetacean sightings’ map
  • Students at ‘Whale Camp’
  • A quiz to make sure you have taken it all in…

To read the four-page document –  and admire the photos - CLICK BMMRO FALL 2012 NEWSLETTER

BMMRO WHALE, DOLPHIN & MANATEE SIGHTINGS MARCH 2012


BMMRO WHALE, DOLPHIN & MANATEE SIGHTINGS MARCH 2012

Hard on the heels of the BMMRO’s Fisheries Report for 2011 – see previous posts – comes the map of last month’s sightings. First, let’s hear it for the manatees, featuring for the 4th consecutive month off the Berry Is. The 2 reports of an ‘unknown large cetacean’ off Elbow Cay are the puzzles of the month. There was a sperm whale in that area in January, but presumably it would have moved away in the meantime…. I wonder what the likely candidates are for ‘large’ besides sperm and humpbacks?

BMMRO BAHAMAS FISHERIES REPORT 2011 EXTRACTS & LINK


The BMMRO has recently published its Fisheries Report for 2011. The report is comprehensive and covers a far larger area than the waters around Abaco. Extracts are shown below (thanks as alway to Charlotte Dunn for use permission). The full report can be seen in pdf form at BMMRO FISHERIES REPORT

1. First, here is the table of all field data for the 2011 season, from which the incidence of the particular cetacean types can easily be seen. To a layman (me), the most significant reading on the previous year is the increase in sperm whale sightings and animal numbers, up from 14 / 69 in 2010 to 38 / 148 in 2011. I wonder why the difference?

2.  Here are results specifically relating to South Abaco, where the majority of cetacean activity is observed (see ‘green’ map). I have included a larger image of the cetacean species so that the key is easier to read

SOUTHEAST COAST & GULF OF MEXICO MARINE / COASTAL FIELD GUIDE: 5* YALE BOOK REVIEW


BOOK REVIEW

This is a superlative field guide: comprehensive, clear and approachable. The illustrations are excellent, and include helpful examples of birds in flight, different views of marine creatures (basking shark side view and head on), whale fluke comparisons and dolphin profiles. The 11 Chapters comprise marine and coastal plants and habitats; invertebrates; sharks; rays; fish; sea turtles; crocodiles and alligators; marine and coastal birds; baleen whales; toothed whales and dolphins; and finally seals and manatee

Yale University Press 386pp, £20 / $24  ISBN 978 0300 11328 0

rollingharbour rating: a rare and coveted 5*****

Obviously this isn’t the guide for land-based birds – you’ll still need Hallett  or Arlott to help with all those warblers, for example. But for all aspects of marine and coastal wildlife it is as thorough as you could ever wish for in a book that is readily portable. While slightly too large (8″ x 6″) and heavy for a pocket, it would be perfect for a day-bag. Convention dictates that the most enthusiastic reviews should include a couple of tiny niggles to prove a book has been read… so,  the shell section is very brief at 2 pages; and the coral section also, with some types (Mustard Hill, for example) omitted. But such an ambitious yet compact book couldn’t possibly be exhaustive. In practical terms, it has everything you could want from a Field Guide when exploring or researching this area.

Publisher’s Summary [added here to indicate the scope & depth of the book]

  • Entries on 619 coastal and ocean species including seabirds, cetaceans, fish, turtles, invertebrates, and plants
  • More than 1,100 color illustrations & 121 colour photographs
  • 452 up-to-date range maps
  • Overviews of key ecological communities, including mangroves, salt marshes, beaches, sand dunes, and coral reefs
  • Special attention to threatened and endangered species
  • Discussions of environmental issues, including such catastrophic events as Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon blowout
  • Glossary
  • Excellent organizational aids for locating information quickly
To which I would add:
  • Clear text alerts for endangered / red list species
  • 12-page index (which works very well)
  • Handy front and back flaps place-markers
  • Colour-coded section divisions

To see the publisher’s UK or US webpages for the book CLICK LINK===>>>  YUP UK   or   YUP US – it can also be obtained from the other  conventional sources already mentioned in the book section of this site

Finally, a declaration of interest: Mrs rh works in the London office of YUP, so I have been consciously avoiding partiality. However this just happens to be an excellent book by any standards, so fortunately the frosty domestic fall-out from a bad crit has been easily avoided…

ABACO: BMMRO WHALE & DOLPHIN SIGHTINGS NOV 2011 & A ‘FALSE KILLER WHALE’ STRANDING


ABACO DOLPHIN & WHALE SIGHTINGS NOVEMBER 2011              ‘VERY DIFFERENT FROM OCTOBER’

October was a good month for bottlenose dolphins, with sightings both north and south of Marsh harbour –  however, no reported whales off Abaco at all. In complete contrast, in November no bottlenose dolphins were reported, nor any other cetaceans on the east side of Abaco. Instead, the observed activity was all around Sandy Point, with sperm whales in particular returning to the area. Increased sightings off Andros were also reported

                  STRANDED FALSE KILLER WHALE

Charlotte Dunn also reports that on December 2nd 2011, BMMRO was alerted that a whale had live-stranded on Guana Cay. After attempts to re-float it, it was seen heading north past Dolphin Beach. The animal had numerous lacerations and fresh scars, and appeared “very weak with labored breathing”The whale was later found beached at No Name Cay (north of Green Turtle Cay). At that time it was reportedly “still alive but just barely”. Unsuccessful attempts were made to get the animal back in the water.  Sadly, by evening it was dead. Photo ID confirmed it to be a FALSE KILLER WHALE Pseudorca 

 

For the full report on the BMMRO Facebook page CLICK STRANDED WHALE 

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ABACO DOLPHIN SIGHTINGS (OCT 2011) + GREAT IMAGES


                   ABACO DOLPHIN & WHALE SIGHTINGS OCTOBER 2011               TWO YOUNG DOLPHINS SEEN DURING RESEARCH TRIPS

The BMMRO has just published the Bahamas whale and dolphin map of reported sightings for last month, showing a significant amount of bottlenose dolphin activity in the Marsh Harbour area, extending north and south. Also new on the BMMRO website are details of recent research into the Abaco dolphin population. Here are two great dolphin images taking during the trips

A sub-adult dolphin during social interaction ©BMMRO

A young calf on Tilloo Bank ©BMMRO

To view the BMMRO site CLICK LOGO===>>> 


ABACO WHALES AND DOLPHINS – BMMRO NEWSLETTER OCT 2011


BAHAMAS MARINE MAMMAL RESEARCH ORGANISATION NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 2011

The BMMRO’s fully illustrated Fall Newsletter has just been published. The newletter is as always an eclectic mix of cetacean-centric material, with a headline article about the summer whale poop project. I have lived my life and had a professional career of sorts without once giving the remotest thought to whale poop, yet here I am immersed in the stuff yet again… But there’s plenty more besides that. The newsletter gives you an overview of the current work of the BMMRO and articles including the following:

  • A stranded Fin whale on the Berry Islands
  • News of the Irene effect at Whale HQ in Sandy Point
  • An Orca sighted off Eleuthera
  • Education program update
  • A quarterly chart of the summer whale and dolphin sightings – 82 reports for 10 species. 

Thanks as ever to Charlotte Dunn for permission to link to BMMRO material.         To see the newsletter CLICK LINK===>>> BMMRO newsletter Oct 2011 

To visit the informative BMMRO website  CLICK LOGO===>>> Supplementary info: without going into details of the consistency of the output etc, I’ve just found the suggestion online that whales can excrete 3% of their body weight in a day. And a large whale weighs..? Mind where you swim

ABACO – WHALE & DOLPHIN SIGHTINGS SEPTEMBER 2011


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The BMMRO has just posted its sightings chart for September 2011. There are more sightings than in August (when the boats didn’t go out, and Irene interposed herself somewhat assertively). I am not sure that the research boats went out much last month, but Bahamas-wise there were clearly a few more reports of sightings, including another Fin whale. Here is the chart:- 

WHALES & DOLPHINS ABACO: BMMRO BLOG – the Irene effects


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Charlotte Dunn has posted a report of events at Sandy Point in August on the BBMRO site. Her account includes photos of Hurricane Irene as it passed over Sandy Point, and of some of the damage in the aftermath 

For the direct link to Charlotte’s  blog  CLICK DOLPHIN ===>>> 

Hurricane Irene on its way towards Abaco, directly in its path …Image credit BMMRO

BMMRO WHALE & DOLPHIN NEWSLETTER JULY 2011: 1st BAHAMAS FIN WHALE SIGHTING, ABACO


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BAHAMAS MARINE MAMMAL RESEARCH ORGANISATION NEWSLETTER JULY 2011

The BMMRO, based at Sandy Point, Abaco, has published its latest newsletter: 4 pages of lavishly illustrated news and info about recent research and other cetacean-related matters. Thanks as ever to Charlotte Dunn for permission to link to / use material from the BMMRO website. To see the newsletter         CLICK LINK===>>> BMMRO Newsletter_Jul11

If you want to immerse yourself in the extremely interesting details of past and ongoing research, with wonderful whale and dolphin photos and past sightings and stranding details, go to the main BMMRO website                                                         CLICK LOGO===>>>       

WHALE & DOLPHIN SIGHTINGS JUNE 2011


It’s worth commenting on the cluster of sightings on the south-west coast of Abaco between Sandy Point and Hole-in-the-Wall. This is the site of the Great Bahama Canyon, one of several extremely deep rifts that divide the generally shallow sea-floor of the Bahamas Islands. This deep trough provides a habitat and feeding ground for a huge variety of inshore and oceanic species, with an abundant supply of food. How convenient that the BMMRO HQ should be so close to this area…

Chart courtesy of  Click logo!


BRIEF ENCOUNTER: DOLPHINS AT MARSH HARBOUR ABACO


Our Island-hopping trip with Kay – see previous posts [links later] – held the chance of an encounter with dolphins. The frankly dodgy weather – rain, cloud etc – seemed to have dashed that hope. As we entered the approaches to Marsh Harbour, we (I) had given up all thought of seeing any dolphins when suddenly… dolphins to starboard. A small pod, not very close, of 3 or 4 adults and at least one calf. They did what dolphins do for a short time, while gradually moving away from us into the murk. There was naturally huge excitement on board at this unexpected sighting.

So as Marsh Harbour came into view, we had ticked off the full day’s list: reef-snorkelling at Fowl Cay; island-hops to Lubbers (with lunch), Elbow and Man o’ War Cays; and rounded off with the dolphins. Without going overboard in any sense, this was 6 hours of wonderful adventure, and highly recommended as a top quality day’s outing. And you can even get an Abaco Above and Below t-shirt at the end of it all to prove you have done it.

*    *    *

I have been uncharacteristically reticent, I notice, about showing the proof of the dolphin encounter. And for a very good reason. These may be the worst quality images of dolphins you will EVER see. You may in fact be better off looking at a cartoon… For what they are worth, here are two photos (of several worse ones…)

A DOLPHIN

ANOTHER DOLPHIN

A MORE CONVINCING DOLPHIN

 

DELPHI DOLPHINS  You don’t have to go out in a boat to see dolphins. They have been seen from the verandah at Delphi, quite close to the beach – as have turtles and large rays. It’s worth having an occasional scan with the amazing autofocus binoculars that are kept in the Great Room