Someone very special is about to turn two years old! Check in on this blog tomorrow to find out! (hint: he eats almost nothing but fish).
Dirty, polluted water draining from Lake Okeechobee into the Gulf of Mexico is threatening a section of Florida’s Gulf coast! The southwest coast of Florida is home to many dolphins, manatees, fish, and other aquatic creatures, but after a rainy winter, Lake Okeechobee has swelled up, and its polluted water is being drained into the Gulf of Mexico around Florida’s southwest coast. Already, dead wildlife has been reported (including a dead dolphin that was seen floating in the water), and the once beautiful clear, turquoise water has turned to a disgusting brown murk.
Local residents are very angry about this. Nearby shops and stores are getting less business now that all swimmers, fishermen, boaters, and beach-goers have been scared away by the ugly-looking water. Local commercial fishermen are especially angry, as many of the fish are dying out.
Dying out fish means a lot, as fish are a very important part of the marine food chain. Dolphins, sharks, birds – they all depend on fish to survive.
Thankfully, Inkfish Bay looks like it is out of the danger zone of this disaster, so hopefully the dolphins of Inkfish Bay are all safe; However, I have not been down there during this event to know for sure.
Left: Deak surfacing for air, no with no fin sticking up out of the water.
I know that there are a few big fans of Deak the dolphin out there, but unfortunately sometime between our May 2015 field trip and our June 2015 field trip to Inkfish Bay, Deak had a collision with a boat and the dolphin’s dorsal (top) fin was completely sliced off.
Deak is still alive and does not appear to be having a struggle at finding food. All of the damage has healed, although Deak still does not have a fin. Thankfully, the Inkfish Bay dolphins still except Deak, and sometimes I wonder if they might help Deak sometimes when he/she needs it. I personally think that Deak still has a good chance at seeing old age.
Deak serves as a good example of why it is so important to be cautious of wildlife while boating. Many people think that dolphins will simply get out of the way of their boat, but from underwater, the sound of a nearby boat fills the area, and it is probably too hard for the dolphins to tell if the boat is coming at them or not. It is only when they come up for air that every now and then it suddenly becomes too late, and a dolphin gets injured or even killed, all because a boat driver wasn’t watching where he was going.
Deak with no fin.
It turns out that Nami is Valkkai’s mother.
Valkkai is the tiny little calf that we spotted during our last research trip.
Interestingly, an hour or two earlier, I was paddleboarding and spotted Nami in the harbor with no baby, indicating that Valkkai was apparently only an hour or two (maybe even less) old when we first spotted the calf.
Also, I am beginning to wonder if maybe Nami somehow has part of the genes that made Zuri white. Nami has been seen swimming close by Zuri’s side every time we see the albino (although Nami has been seen swimming where Zuri was not present, but now that Zuri is older, if Nami is Zuri’s mother, that is no surprise).
Usually, newborn dolphin calves are darker in color than their mothers, but Valkkai was actually lighter in color – something that stumped us when we were trying to determine Valkkai’s age. However, if Nami has part of the genes that would produce an albino dolphin (or simply a lighter gray dolphin like Valkkai) then a lot of dots would get connected.
For now, though, the whole idea about Zuri, Valkkai, and Nami being somehow connected remains a mystery, but I will be sure to post if we find out anything new!
Jun 28, 2016
A new dolphin has been identified! “Sharky” was named based on the fact that his/her dorsal fin’s back edge is so nicked and notched that it really looks like shark teeth.
Jun 28, 2016
New dolphin identified! “Nami” is the most recently identified dolphin, and he/she was first photographed in April swimming alongside Zuri, an extremely rare albino bottlenose dolphin. Nami was again spotted swimming with Zuri during our last research trip, making me wonder if maybe Nami is closely related to Zuri, or even if Nami could be Zuri’s mother. “Nami” means “wave.”
Jun 28, 2016
This pretty thing is Sailfin, just identified during our last research trip! From what we could see, Sailfin looks like a female, but again, we can’t be sure yet.