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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Atlantic spotted dolphins

Atlantic spotted dolphins

The first recorded encounters between people and Atlantic spotted dolphins along the Little Bahamas Bank was in the late 1960's when divers were salvaging the wreck of a Spanish galleon. Divers were frequently visited by friendly spotted dolphins that would approach, investigate, and often mimic divers' actions. In the mid-1980's, scientists began studying their distribution, associations with one another, behavior, even identifying individuals by gender and the pattern of their spots. Beginning at about four years old, young dolphins in this species begin developing black spots on their light underside and white spots on their dark topside. The older the dolphin, the more spots.

Atlantic spotted dolphins live in the shallow, tropical waters off the Atlantic Coast of the United States, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Bahamas. It is when they're near-shore that Kathleen studies them. During the afternoon, they swim out to deeper waters in search of fish and squid. Atlantic spotted dolphins are relatively small compared to other dolphins. They are about six feet long and weigh approximately 200 pounds when they reach adulthood. The females of this species are generally larger than the males.


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