Published On: Sat, Sep 7th, 2013

Dolphin Spotted: a wild acquaintance

Dolphin academyWILLEMSTAD – Dolphin Academy in cooperation with the Southern Caribbean Cetacean Network (SCCN) has been assessing the varieties and numbers of local marine mammal stocks and documenting their patterns and activities since 2002. Throughout the years, 13 different species of whales and dolphins have been spotted and documented – including what appears to be a semi-resident population of offshore bottlenose dolphins. Other species that have been spotted are Bryde’s whales, humpback whales, striped dolphins and long-snouted spinner dolphins.

In 2003 our crew photographed a wild dolphin with a peculiar dorsal fin. This dolphin was named ‘Scissors’. This same dolphin was pictured in 2008 just off the coast of Bonaire and our neighbors named him Sebastian. Last Monday Bonaire naturalists and dolphin spotters Ron and Dawn Sewell were visiting Dolphin Academy and SCCN, when wild dolphins were spotted. The couple joined George Kieffer and Aimee Brown (both working at Dolphin Academy and board members of SCCN) on the boat to go look for these wild dolphins. Little did they know that they would be having an encounter with an old acquaintance. Scissors/Sebastian was among the dolphins swimming East on Monday, September 2, 2013. This is really exciting news as it proves that some dolphins live permanently in our waters, travelling between Bonaire and Curaçao. New dolphins were also spotted accompanying Sebastian. Including ‘Twisted Sister’, who has a folded dorsal fin. This looks like a birth defect, but could also be the result of an accident. The sightings of last Monday inspire and motivate us even more to keep tracking the wild populations in our waters. Not only is it possible to compare sightings with Bonaire, but it proves that some populations have settled in our waters and made this their home.

Southern Caribbean Cetacean Network is currently updating their website and hope to keep updating it with a lot of recent and future sightings and research findings. Please contact SCCN at (+5999)522-2262 when wild dolphins or whales are spotted around our coastline, but also in the case of a stranding. SCCN has a team of trained volunteers ready to help stranded marine mammals.

An extra request: If you have spotted and taken photos or videos of dolphins and whales around the coasts of Curaçao (dorsal fin photos are needed the most), please share them with us on our Facebook page: Help us have extra eyes out on the water and be a part of our ‘Citizen Scientists’ team!

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