All dolphin photography taken under MMPA Permit #21938-03.
May not be used for commercial purposes.
After hours and hours out on the water observing dolphins going about their daily lives, we start to become aware of the unique personalities of each individual dolphin. Naturally, the team develops favorites over time. Read below for everyone’s favorites and why they stand out to them!
Stefanie: Tall Fin (TLFN)
Tall Fin is the original driver identified in my Master’s and PhD work – without him, there would have been no Cedar Key Dolphin Project. He was seen in 22 sightings since 2001 and was a very successful driver. Sadly, he is no longer with us; his last sighting was in June of 2012.
Suzanna: Knuckles (KSNC)
Knuckles is a local around Cedar Key and has been known to the project since the beginning in 2001! Knuckles was biopsied in 2010 and confirmed male. He is still going strong after more than 20 years, during which the project has seen him in 38 sightings. His fin is one of the most iconic to me and it has hardly changed in all that time. Knuckles is a great reminder of the long lives dolphins can live and why it is so important to have long-term research projects to follow them throughout their lifetime in order to fully understand them.
Becca: Oyster (ORWE)
Oyster is an adult male local to Waccasassa and Withlacoochee Bay. He is a driver known for hanging out with his buddies, Lightning and Scallop, who often act as barriers in his foraging. Since only a dozen dolphins in our population are drivers, finding a driver to get data on Driver-barrier foraging can be like finding a needle in a haystack! Luckily for me, Oyster was reliable to find during the 2018 season when we were collecting data for my Master’s degree. A lot of the data for my thesis came from foraging performed by Oyster, so he will always be one of my favorite dolphins!
Jaiere: Proudfoot (PRYR)
PRYR is usually seen around Crystal River and Withlacoochee Bay. She is currently a mom of a YOY (Young Of the Year) and does a very good job raising her young. Experienced moms are very protective of their young, and one way to recognize this is when they place themselves in between their calf and the boats that are passing by throughout the bay to prevent their calves from injury. In their early life stages, YOYs and calves are still learning how to safely maneuver through the water when close to human activity. They can easily put themselves in danger if they aren’t properly protected by mom. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for mothers to lose their calves within the calf’s first year of life; therefore, it is great to see moms like PRYR doing a good job protecting their babies and keeping them safe!
Faith: Roo (ROWE)
ROWE is a 7 year old female dolphin first seen in our study site in Crystal River. She is very social and likes to play with other dolphins. This is actually how we know she’s female. While socializing, we are sometimes able to confirm the sex of the dolphin. ROWE was first seen in 2015 as a newborn calf (YOY as we call them). We didn’t see her again until 2018. By then, her dorsal fin had changed so much that we didn’t recognize her, so she was ID’d as a new animal. It wasn’t until this season that we realized who she was, based on a single scar that we managed to ID in common between her 2015 and 2022 photos! It’s very hard to match adults to their calf images years later because calf fins are usually very clean with no nicks or notches. Since we have tracked ROWE from her first year, we know exactly how old she is. We can learn about calf survival within our study area, and we will be able to follow the matriline once ROWE has calves of her own.
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