STOP PRESS 2015 I have rearranged the ever-lengthening Marine Life section so that Marine Mammals – Whales, Dolphins and Manatees – have separate headings to themselves, with a rewritten intro below. You can reach the sections straight from this page:
CETACEANS Whales and Dolphins – click HERE
SIRENIANS West Indian Manatees – click HERE
The Bahamas is home to 15 species of whale and 7 species of dolphin. Of these recorded species, many are native to Abaco waters and the rest are passing through on their long migrations north and south. During this month alone, an impressive variety of species have been observed.
Dolphin and Whale species that have been recorded in the Bahamas:
- Common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)
- Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis)
- Pan-tropical spotted dolphin (Stenella attenuata)
- Striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba)
- Rough-toothed dolphin (Steno bredanensis)
- Fraser’s dolphin (Lagenodelphis hosei)
- Risso’s dolphin (Grampus griseus)
- Short-finned pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus)
- Melon-headed whale (Peponocephala electra)
- Pygmy killer whale (Feresa attenuata)
- False killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens)
- Killer whale (Orcinus orca)
- Blainville’s beaked whale (Mesoplodon densirostris)
- Gervais’ beaked whale (Mesoplodon europaeus)
- Cuvier’s beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris)
- Dwarf sperm whale (Kogia sima)
- Pygmy sperm whale (Kogia breviceps)
- Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus)
- Minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)
- Bryde’s whale (Balaenoptera edeni)
- Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus)
- Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)
The simple answer is that there are no formal whale-watching possibilities. Abaco is not a place that you can casually see whales in the open sea. It takes skill and patience to locate them. The BMMRO has the knowledge and equipment for this purpose. The whales are the subject of a major ongoing research project and are best left undisturbed. In short the whales in Abaco waters are best left to the experts.
Dolphins on the other hand can often be seen, in particular if you are taking an inter-island ride on one of the ‘Donnies’, as the Albury’s Ferries are named. Quite often they turn up in places such as Hope Town harbour. We sometimes get them nosing across the bay at Delphi. Again, the various dolphin species are the subject of research. Without specialist equipment, finding dolphins is a completely hit-and-miss affair (most likely miss) so you will have to trust to luck to encounter one – or, if you are lucky, a group.
For anyone wondering about the possibility of an expedition to see whales and dolphins, Charlotte Dunn, President of the BMMRO says that by prior arrangement it may occasionally be possible to accommodate one or two people during a day’s research trip by boat.
Here are Charlotte’s comments on what is involved: “…long hot days with no shade, no toilet, no iced drinks etc… but a wonderful experience. If we are going in the field anyway, and we usually know the evening before, then it would not affect us to have one or two additional people on the boat, and the extra eyes are always a help! We would of course ask for some contribution towards the cost of the day, ie fuel … so could you suggest this as a possibility on your blog?” We have been fortunate to go out with Charlotte and Diane for a day and it was an astounding experience to spend extended time with groups of Blainvillle’s beaked whales and bottlenose dolphins with their calves.
And if you do see dolphins or a whale during another trip – a ferry ride perhaps, or out fishing in the Sea of Abaco – Charlotte and the BMMRO would appreciate a ‘Sighting Report’ which can be made with this link: http://www.bahamaswhales.org/sightings/index.html