Today’s highlight was definitely hanging out with dolphin and manatee expert, Eric Angel-Ramos.  Eric has been studying the bottlenose dolphins that are here in the Atoll. He mainly uses a drone, or unmanned aerial system, to view the dolphins. The bird’s-eye-view gives him a perfect image of what is going on below him, and he has been able to observe and identify new behaviors in the dolphins. Eric also takes pictures of each dolphin’s dorsal fin in order to figure out who they are. He showed us several videos of the interactions and photographs of dolphins, some of whom have been documented nearby for over twenty years. Once the presentation concluded, Eric and the group all went out on the boat. Students took watch overlooking the surrounding waters, and searching for dorsal fins that would indicate a dolphin’s presence.

A dolphin waves at our group. Photo by Alie M.

A dolphin waves at our group. Photo by Alie M.

From hanging out with a pod of dolphins up close all morning, to lounging on the boat eating a pineapple and getting to know each other better, to our late afternoon dip to cool off in the water, today was a blast! Throughout the day we all snapped pictures of the scenery, wildlife, and each other.

Dani and Pearce use GoPros to film the bottlenose dolphins. Photo by trip leader Carolyn Raider.

Dani and Pearce use GoPros to film the bottlenose dolphins. Photo by trip leader Carolyn Raider.

In the morning, we found a pod of around 10 bottlenose dolphins, which we observed and got up close and personal with for a few hours. We all were mesmerized as we watched them jump, forage, play, rest, and speed alongside the boat. “Aha!” we all exclaimed in unison each time we saw their beautiful displays. They were such a gift to see and photograph. “A masterpiece of nature” is how Pearce described the experience.

Ayden lowering the hydrophone so the group can hear the dolphin noises. Photo by trip leader Carolyn Raider.

Ayden lowering the hydrophone so the group can hear the dolphin noises. Photo by trip leader Carolyn Raider.

At the end of the day, everyone laughed and enjoyed their cool off as we jumped off the boat into the ocean for a final dip in crystal clear water. “Wicked refreshing,” said Ayden, and “A great way to end our time,” reflected Hannah.  In conclusion, we all had an amazing time out on the water, and can’t wait for our exciting adventures to come.