Atlantic Spotted Dolphin Adventures on the Little Bahama Bank.
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SPOTTED DOLPHINS IN THE BAHAMAS
Atlantic Spotted Dolphin (Stenella frontalis) are considered a near-shore, non migrating species ranging the temperate and tropical coastal waters of the Atlantic. As the name suggests, they are commonly recognized by their spots that develop as they age. The population of spotted dolphin on the Little Bahama Bank is very fluid both in range and division into smaller groups, making a firm definition of a pod almost impossible. Spotted Dolphins range throughout the Bahamas with certain areas having resident pods, such as White Sand Ridge.
Pregnant female named Sandy.
Spotted dolphins lead very complex social lives. They form smaller sub groups within the pod such as; Mothers with the same age calves, mixed sex juveniles and mature males. The group size ranges from 3 to 9 individuals and the overall pod size of about 50. They exhibit numerous social behaviors like companionship, affection, aggression and play. Regardless of the relationship when two dolphin are swimming together they will be in almost constant physical contact with each other.
Sharkbait and Sweeting playing with a bandana.
Identification of individual Atlantic Spotted Dolphin is central to any research and information
gathering on this free-ranging species. It is essential when recording behaviors over a number of
years to know who's who. This can prove difficult because the number of spots per dolphin increases
with age, like a continually changing fingerprint.
Middle aged and older adult females.
Spotted dolphins are born without spots, they are dark gray on their backs graduating along
their sides to a white belly. At approximately four years of age they begin to get spots.
As the years go on, black spots fill in their lighter bellies and then upward, while white
spots fill in along their upper sides and back. The older adults become so fused with spots
their bellies appear almost black with white specks.
Most individuals that are resident to White Sand Ridge we see at least once a week. There are traveling individuals we see a few times a years and some individuals we only see once every couple of years.
Juveniles, 5 to 6 years old.
The spotting and aging relationship, seems to vary greatly from dolphin to dolphin, possibly due to genetic variation. These variations make birth dates and ages difficult to determine precisely. Estimates are made from observations since 1987, photographs since 1980, research papers and published studies on the age and spotting patterns of a similar species of dolphin. We are not sure how long this species lives, but it is guessed to be 30 to 40 years.
Female Spotted Dolphin reach maturity around 12 years old. Gestation period for a pregnant female is 11 to 12 months. The baby is born within a group of other dolphins. For the first couple of months the newborn stays close to its mother or a baby sitter. The young are always more playful and curios like many other mammal species. Nursing goes on for over two years at which time the baby stays in the general area of the mother but is becoming more independent. The young stay around its mother for up to four years but the mother can have a new baby by the third year. Females grow up around their mothers and other females until over 11 years when they become fertile. This is when the females start courtship games with the males and become pregnant. Then they settle to a more serious life of feeding, offspring, and nursing.
Cherokee and calve.
Juvenile males occasionally form a tight bond with other juvenile male individuals. Particularly around the age of fertility (approximately 14 years).Young males will be seen in larger groups of males with rough play taking place. Older males will keep some of their tight juvenile bonds. While also forming in groups of older males without the rough play of the younger males.
Group of males rough housing.
Dolphins have two different feeding behaviors where they feed on a variety of small fish and squid. Day time feeding on small fish that live in the shallow sand bank like Razor Wrasse, Flounder, and Lizard fish. Night time feeding where they move into deep water and feed on Flying fish, Ballyhoo, and Squid.
Spotted Dolphin Facts
Can swim up to 30 miles per hour and jump over 30 feet.
Breathing is voluntary, it requires conscious effort.
Hold their breath for three to five minutes.
Have good eyesight above or below the water.
Have finger bones inside pectoral fins.
Echolocation is imaging with sound waves, similar to Bats.
Use whistles, barks and other sounds to communicate
Have resident populations with an average range of 25 miles.
Reach sexual maturity between age twelve and fourteen
Have a gestation period of about eleven months
Calves are born around 30 inches long
Adults reach a length of seven feet and a weight of 250 lbs.
Have a life span of approximately 40 years.
Perfect day on White Sand Ridge and a really high jump.
SPOTTING PATTERN/AGE GUIDE:
Newborn - under one year
Two-tone - 1-5 years
Spotted - 6-11 years
Mottled - 12-17 years
Fused - 18 years plus
Group feeding in the sand.
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Atlantic Spotted Dolphin, Spotted Dolphin, dolphins Bahamas, dolphin information,Stenella frontalis,