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Bahamas Dolphin Project
Field Study & Underwater Observations by Snorkel
Join this 7-day student-oriented program aboard an 86-foot motoryacht, and learn about wild dolphins while contributing to long-term research efforts.
Since 1984, Oceanic Society has sponsored research on the behavioral ecology of spotted dolphins off the Bahamas banks. In the early 1990s, a dolphin communication component was added to the project, and a vessel impact study was initiated in 1996. In the year 2000, the project was expanded to include a behavioral comparison study between spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) and bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). In 2002, we began focusing on the social mechanisms of both species of dolphins, and from 2004-06 we focused on the social behavior of juvenile spotted dolphins.
In 2009, with a grant from the National Geographic Society, researcher Daisy Kaplan focused developing a fine scale research project that looks at acoustic signals when spotted and bottlenose dolphins are interacting. Research results were published in Marine Mammal Science.
Under the direction of researcher Daisy Kaplan, we continue this acoustic research as well as our long term work studying how dolphin social affiliations change over time, and updating the dolphin identification catalog of over 140 individual dolphins. This educational field program will offer an in-depth introduction to dolphin biology and ecology, plus provide an overview of current research and conservation efforts.
The warm waters of the Bahamas are ideal for dolphin observation. We know of no other place where wild dolphins can be observed underwater with such consistency and excellent visibility. Using only snorkel equipment, we will observe the dolphins who seem to enjoy human companionship. Participants must know how to swim and snorkel, but no special skills or experience are required to participate.
We spend time at anchor in several dolphin sites, weather permitting, awaiting the approach of the spotted dolphins, who seem to initiate these human encounters. The clear shallow waters allow for detailed observations of social interactions and feeding behaviors. We will look for old "spotter" friends such as Concordia, Topnotch, Stubby and Macho, dolphins we have observed for the last decade and whose life histories we know first-hand. Trips begin and end in Palm Beach, Florida.
Travel and accommodations are aboard an 86-foot motoryacht in air-conditioned, double-occupancy cabin and shared bath.
Day 1: Afternoon arrival in Palm Beach, Florida. Overnight on vessel.
Day 2: Early morning departure for dolphin site on the Grand Bahama Banks. Begin dolphin study and snorkeling.
Day 3-5: Full days on study site for underwater observations of dolphins and snorkeling.
Day 6: Morning dolphin observation at site. After lunch continued opportunities for dolphin observation and snorkeling enroute back to Palm Beach, Florida. Overnight aboard vessel
Day 7: Disembark vessel at 10:00am.