DPMMR’s Photo-ID researchers conducted multiple photo-ID surveys between Key Largo and Islamorada at the end of August on both Atlantic and Florida Bay sides. The first day resulted in 3 sightings with a total of 7 individual dolphins which are identified by the nicks and notches on their dorsal fins. Of these dolphins, 4 have been previously sighted within the Upper Keys region. These re-sights suggest strong site fidelity to the region which has implications for management and conservation efforts.
The research department was honored to publish our article, The Effects of Reproductive Status and Water Temperature on the Caloric Intake of Tursiops truncatus in Aquatic Mammals last month. This manuscript is the culmination of over a decade of data collection to advance our understanding of odontocetes' energetic requirements. Several studies have examined the consumption patterns and energy requirements of cetaceans, yet little is known about how these values change with respect to reproductive status and small scale changes in water temperature. Access to Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) living under human care in natural seawater enclosures allows for a detailed look into diet (i.e., specific to each catch), intake, and relative energetic adjustments made in response to reproductive and thermoregulatory demands. This project aimed to provide valuable information regarding the complex intersection between life history, season, and prey resources. These data may provide conservative estimates of caloric need for extrapolation to free-ranging populations to estimate the carrying capacity of specific habitats, the resilience of cetaceans in the face of increasing anthropogenic pressure and environmental change, and the impact dolphins have on prey resources and trophic cascades.
Alfonz - Alfonz continues to be the "big man on campus" and continues to work on learning a new "belly breach" behavior with Kayla. This month, he stayed busy interacting with our locals in the Florida Keys, celebrating our "Local Love" month with $50 swims for Monroe County residents. In an effort to provide variety and mental stimulation for Alfonz, this month the trainers decided to put a creative spin on how we run the Splash & Wade program, which Alfonz participates in almost daily. Instead of simply running the program from the platform, trainers jumped on Kayaks, rafts, and even into the water to conduct the program, which Alfonz seemed to adore!
Alfonz – Alfonz has been a busy boy this August! He voluntarily gave a blood sample for a routine check-up, has been hanging out with many of our guests, and is helping his friend Bob learn a new in water behavior with the trainers. Typically, Alfonz is our go-to Splash & Wade dolphin as he seems to really enjoy meeting people from a submerged platform. This month, however, Alfonz has been more involved with the deep-water programs, which has added variability to his day and really increased his attention during sessions. Finally, Alfonz has started learning a “belly breach” behavior with Kayla which is where he jumps out of the water and lands on his belly (a natural behavior for dolphins when they’re trying to communicate).