Indian River Lagoon Bottlenose Dolphin
By Cameron West-Johnson
July 7, 2019
The Indian River Lagoon Bottlenose Dolphin is by far one of the most majestic marine mammals around. You feel as though you can see the joy on their faces as they splash around chasing their next meal. The Atlantic bottlenose dolphin is the apex predator of the IRL weighing in from 400 to 1,200 lbs, with a length five to thirteen feet. Due to the dolphin being born in the IRL system and typically never leaving it, the dolphin are around twenty percent smaller than the ones in the ocean. This is because the average depth of the Indian River Lagoon is only around three feet deep, along with the sea walls surrounding the system creating limited room for the dolphin to swim around. Thus, we have named up a subspecies, naming them the Indian River Lagoon Bottlenose Dolphin. Even though the dolphins are smaller this doesn’t hinder their remarkable hunting ability. Dolphin being the incredibly intelligent animals they are, they have come to terms with their environment and use it to its out most potential.
How to spot
Bottlenose dolphins have a light to charcoal grey skin, typically the older they are the darker the skin. Due to the shallow waters of the IRL we are able to see the dorsal fin of the dolphin nearly the entire time. This makes them extremely to spot, especially when they are hunting! When the dolphin are hunting in the IRL they use different techniques than the dolphin in the ocean. In the ocean dolphin hunt in pods, however in the IRL they are able to use the shallow waters and sea walls to their advantage. In order to stun the fish, they are after (mostly mullet fish) they carol and slap the fish against the sea walls, this allows them to grab them with ease. Thus, when we are searching for these dolphins we look out for any explosions of water. Along with water splashing we make sure to keep an eye on the birds in the sky. Birds such as pelican’s and anhinga’s track dolphin, because where dolphin are fish are. Birds use the dolphin as a larger target in the water that shows them where the fish are. So, if you see birds looking really interested in the water and flying from spot to spot there is a good chance there is a dolphin nearby. When on the search for dolphin you can’t solely rely on your vision. Many times, while kayaking you won’t see the dolphin but you will hear it either splashing or taking a breath of air.