02.08.2019 – Bottle-nosed boldness
People love dolphins and generally dolphins have a wonderful reputation for being approachable, gentle-natured creatures. The most social of all the dolphins, on an interspecies level, are the Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). Our crew has had numerous sightings where we witnessed these notoriously altruistic dolphins associating with other species. There are also countless stories of Bottlenose encounters with human beings and even stories of the animals saving people in peril. These associations, however, aren’t always that peaceful.
Whilst they tend to behave around Short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) and False orcas (Pseudorca crassidens), Bottlenose dolphins are notorious for bullying smaller dolphin species including the Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) and the Striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba). Our guests aboard this mornings snorkelling tour witnessed a dispersed group of Bottlenose dolphins feeding off the coast of Jardim do Mar and this may have been one reason why our search for spotted dolphins was unsuccessful. The Bottlenose dolphin groups that were encountered today also happened to contain a handful of small calves, young animals that already almost match the Stenella dolphin adults in size. It seems the smart Bottlenose are fully aware that they are larger and stronger than their smaller counterparts and the nimble smaller dolphins are aware that the Bottlenose dolphins can be bullies, darting in the opposite direction when they approach.
The distinct personality and profound intelligence of different Bottlenose Dolphin individuals makes meeting one of them comparable to meeting a stranger in a dark alley; they may be kind to you or rob you. This question of character determines how each individual dolphin treats other animals, including human beings. Some human encounters with Bottlenose dolphins weren’t exactly pleasant but all of these unfortunate confrontations occurred with frustrated and tortured animals in captivity, ticking time bombs that were bound to lash out eventually. All in all, we can count on the gentle nature of all dolphins, vice versa the situation is sadly different.
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
13:30 Bottlenose dolphins
17:00 Striped dolphins
09:00 Bottlenose dolphins
12:00 Atlantic spotted dolphins, Bottlenose dolphins
15:30 Atlantic spotted dolphins, Striped dolphins