06 Dec Week 6 Mozambique: Busy Dolphins
Day 39 (25th September 2017): At around 5:30am this morning I received message from Angie stating the two launches were cancelled for the morning as the north-easterly winds were still too strong. With the morning launch-free we resumed work on the skeletons, using putty to replace the missing pieces of the front flippers and measuring wire to attach from one rib to another. This meant the sternum bones were suspended in mid-air below the ribcage. Since it was a delicate work it took quite a lot of effort and focus not to accidentally break or move the ribs.
Day 41 (27th September 2017): One launch was scheduled for early this morning, at around 6:30am, and the weather kept shifting between partly cloudy and sunshine. Two of the volunteers, Sabrina and Amelia, were at the launch site and saw whales near to shore, travelling fast, and breaching. A couple comprised of mother and calf pairs, while others were mixed groups of mother, calves and another adult, mainly a male escort.
The cruise itself was quite rough due to big swells but luckily we spotted a pod of 30-35 dolphins in two separate groups, moving in tight formation. The groups seemed to be traveling at a fast pace, unlike the slower pace they usually go at. During the drop into the water, there was not a single sound to be heard, suggesting the dolphins had something else on their minds. All the dolphins appeared to be on a mission and none were resting, all seemed too preoccupied to even give Angie a brief greeting. Once the trip had finished, we headed to do our land-based survey and ended the afternoon with data entry of the sightings from the boat survey.
Day 43 (29th September 2017): The forecast strong winds did not appear and we were able to launch. During our swim with a pod of 10-15 dolphins, I heard a popping sound followed by a series of bubbles. This type of vocalisation is only done by the male dolphins to herd or alert the females in order to grab their attention. The females were busy doing circle swims and interacting with Angie, but perhaps the males wanted to resume their cruising or return to whatever task they were previously engaged in. We did however witness some interactions before the dolphins left us.