All dolphin photography taken under MMPA Permit #21938-03.
May not be used for commercial purposes.
We’ve had a great start to the 2022 field season! We’ve been able to be in the field for the past four days in a row with fantastic conditions. Within these last few days, we’ve been seeing plenty of newborn baby dolphins. Dolphins in this area are normally born anytime between late March and late May. We call a new baby dolphin a YOY, meaning Young Of the Year. You can spot a YOY from 3 different clues:
Because YOYs are small and slow, they’re especially vulnerable to threats such as predators or boats. In fact, it’s not unusual for us to observe YOYs and their mothers with fresh scars from shark attacks! This means that the babies are not only naturally slow and uncoordinated, but mothers recovering from shark attacks will also be travelling slower, possible fighting infections, and generally weaker. This can make them far more susceptible to injury or death by boat strike. Because of all these threats, up to 1 in 4 calves is sadly as risk of not making it to its first birthday.
In the last few days, we have also seen manatees forming active mating herds. During this activity, females are pursued by several males for hours or even days at a time. This behavior typically involves splashing and the manatees spending more time than usual at the surface. Sometimes the manatees will swim much faster than usual, with the males acting aggressively – this behavior may look concerning, but it is normal during mating. As a result, the manatees in these herds become very tired from maximizing their energy and typically aren’t paying attention to everything going on around them.
With everything we’ve seen the past few days we want to take this time to remind boaters to be extra careful on the water! Boating season is ramping up and everyone wants to be outside, but please keep in mind we share the waterways with animals that call them home. We sadly see too many animals with boat injuries.
Hi, we’re Jaiere and Faith! We are the full-time interns here at Cedar Key Dolphin Project for the
2022 Summer season and we’re so excited to be here!
I, Jaiere, am specifically excited because I believe this opportunity will allow me to continue to
learn about marine ecology, specifically dolphin behavior and habitat utilization, as these
interdisciplinary topics are what I focused on for my master’s thesis. I am always yearning for
new knowledge and am very grateful for this opportunity to add to my marine ecology
background, as I also want to continue my education and eventually obtain my PhD in this
Hi, Faith here, I’m still in undergrad, about to start my senior year at UF. I’ve always been
interested in learning more about marine biology and hope to eventually pursue a graduate
degree and career in it. I’m also excited to learn about dolphin behavior and how they
communicate. I’m interested in how these unique behaviors are shared between individuals and
We just recently had our training day, where we learned about strandings and what to do if there
is one, and the process of photo-id when collecting data in the field. Today is our first day in the
field and on the boat, so wish us luck!
As we go into the end of the 20th year of research on the bottlenose dolphins of the Cedar Key area, we are focusing on reactivating our social media presence! Stay tuned for updates to this page!
The end of the season is here!
We rounded out the season on Saturday with an amazing last day on the water, seeing some of our personal favorite animals and having 3 driver show off for us with 40+ bouts in just a few hours! Sunday and yesterday were spent doing the last data entry, packing away equipment, and cleaning. To say this season was successful is an understatement; it completely surpassed expectations!
Of our 88 days in the field, we got out on 46 days, which equaled 279 hours on the water! During that time we:
All of this success would not have been possible without the amazing dedication of this season's team: Jolinde Vlaeyen, Areeba Moiz, Amber Lea Kincaid, Alyssa Carrillo, and Monica Arancibia-Colgain. Full-time team members worked on the boat and in the lab up to 12-hours a day, 7 days a week! Thank you so much to all of them for their hard work! We hope they get some quality rest now that the season is over and we wish them the best in future endeavors!
We also want to thank all of our supporters for following our journey this season! I will shortly be returning to UMass Dartmouth to start analyzing all of the acoustics data collected and look forward to seeing what amazing things we will learn! As for CKDP, Stefanie will be conducting monthly surveys in Cedar Key and Waccasassa to keep tabs on the animals we've seen this summer. I'll keep this blog active for any big announcements in the next year as I finish my master's degree.
Cheers to a great season!
When we're out on the water conducting research, dolphins aren't the only thing we're actively looking for; we also always keep an eye out for trash. Unfortunately, it often isn't hard to find. We have found countless items, mostly bottles, bags, and balloons. In just one day alone, we picked up 8 bottles! We know that the minute it takes for us to stop and pick up plastic is nothing compared to the 100s to 1000s of years it takes for plastic to decompose in the oceans. As the plastics break down, they make their way into the food chain and cause direct harm to the animals we cherish; fish, turtles, manatees, sharks, and dolphins. We'd like to encourage you to also keep a trash bag on-board whenever you're on the water and take the time to pick up trash you see so that it can be recycled instead of harming our local environment.
With some incredible weather recently, we just had an 11-day streak of days out on the water (there are no such things as weekends during the field season!). This has meant lots of time with the animals, plenty of data collected, and a very tired but happy research team! Out of the last 11 days, we saw DB behavior on 8 days and recorded more than 25 hours of audio while seeing over 100 DB bouts! On one record-setting day, we were on the water for 7 hours and got audio for roughly 5 of those hours with DB bouts from 4 different drivers!
One of the most exciting developments during this stint on the water was the discovery of several new drivers. Some are animals we have never known before this season, but others are familiar fins that we have never seen drive before. In the photos below, you can see an animal known as SYYR. We first saw SYYR in 2015, but did not see it participate in DB. This year, we found SYYR with a slightly changed fin and he/she is now a driver.
These ‘new kids on the block’ are giving us better odds of seeing DB as the season continues and allow us to compare the details of DB behavior between different individuals. For example, some drivers always start a DB bout with big, loud tail-slaps that are thought to startle the fish, while other drivers are never seen using tail-slaps. We are excited to analyze the audio data to see whether there are also individual differences in vocal production during the behavior! For now, we have a few days of high winds expected that are keeping us on land, but provide a good opportunity to catch-up on data processing and sleep!