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photo of atlantic spotted dolphin pod, hires digital
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Ocean, warm temperate to tropical
7.5 feet (2.3m), 300 pounds (140kg)
||feed on flying
fish and squid at night; Bahamas offers world's best wild dolphin
encounter IMO; avid boat bow-rider / wake surfer
|I've snapped tens of
thousands of pictures in hopes of capturing on film the magic of an
encounter with wild dolphins. An impossible quest. But I keep
trying, and I always look forward to my next trip to the Bahamas.
For it is these clear, warm waters north of Grand Bahama Island
fans from the around the world have been swimming with a pod of wild
Atlantic Spotted Dolphins (Stenella frontalis) for over 20 years.
When in the mood to play, they wait for us to jump in with mask,
snorkel, and fins. I have come to recognize many individual dolphins
by their unique markings
and personalities, and have watched half-meter newborns grow up to
raise babies of their own. Secretly, I like to think that they in
turn recognize me each year, the laughable human with ever-present
camera, awkwardly blundering along in a hopeless attempt to match
their fluid mastery of sea. The dolphin's permanent smile says it
all, however- the joke's on me.
found in groups of 5 to 15, Atlantic spotteds occasionally
congregate in larger groupings numbering a few hundred. Appearance
varies greatly between different stocks throughout their range, and
based on the dolphin’s age. In general, a calf is born unspotted,
and as it matures spots develop and increase with age. At 20 to 30
years, some individuals have an almost completely "fused"
pattern of spots.
Range overlaps the similar Pantropical
Spotted Dolphin, Stenella attenuata, but S. frontalis has a more
robust body and tends to be more oceanic. Though little is known
about their reproduction, females nurse calves for 3 to 5 years, so
it’s possible for a mother to be both pregnant and lactating
simultaneously. Like most dolphins, play between pod members is an
important social exercise. Interaction with other species, such as
bottlenose, is not uncommon. Juvenile spotted oftentimes are
witnessed engaging in homosexual sex play.
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