21.05.2018 – Babyface
All babies are adorable and have that notorious “babyface”. With their larger eyes, rounder facial features and shorter snout, baby dolphins are no exception to this rule. For the record having a babyface certainly has its benefits. We were essentially hardwired by evolutionary processes to associate the distinctive “baby-like” features with a non-threatening, innocent creature that requires our care and protection. This is especially true for social creatures like toothed whale species and human beings, where often more than one individual participates in raising the offspring.
Today we encountered a large, dispersed herd of Short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) that contained a number of tiny little calves. The calves spend up to three years with their mother, usually until another sibling comes along and, like with all dolphins, are raised collectively by a small group of females within the herd. Common dolphin mothers are seemingly less lenient with their young; their little ones often speed off by themselves and playfully swim to and fro near our boat. This was the case today and several tiny individuals leapt happily near our traditional boat.
On a more sober note: Babyface is also a nickname given to a young 9 year old female dolphin spotted near Florida in 2015, who had severe lascerations on her penducle raising concerns about boat traffic in the area. This is why a delicate, passive approach and allowing cetaceans to approach our vessels of their own accord is essential during whale watching trips.
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
10:00 Short-beaked common dolphins
14:30 Short-beaked common dolphins