Six Wild Dolphins scanning Ben at the same time! Bimini, Bahamas

by Joe Noonan on June 9, 2017

Wild dolphins continue to surprise me on a regular basis; they’re delightfully playful and spontaneous!

This time it was in how they responded to Ben, a 15 year old from California. Ben came with his sister and parents to join me for a family trip swimming with dolphins in Bimini, the Bahamas.

It was day four of the trip. We’d already had some great swims with the dolphins, and then we found a pod of six spotted dolphins that were in a very playful mood. We got in the water and they came over to check us out. They swam around, under and between us, making eye contact with everyone and saying hello.

They then returned to their play; jostling, chasing and rubbing up against each other.

Every few minutes they would again swim around, under and between us. I was having fun watching everyone in the family making great connections with the dolphins, and we were all simply relaxing in the magic of hanging out with a pod of wild dolphins in the open ocean. I love my work as a dolphin whisperer; bringing groups and families to swim with the dolphins here in a small, intimate setting.

Then I noticed one of the dolphins split from the pod and swim over to Ben. Something about the deliberateness of its behavior got my attention, so I swam over with my camera to catch the interaction on film. (the video is at the bottom of the page)

The dolphin was clearly curious about Ben. She hovered right in front of him and started scanning him with her sonar (you can see her sweeping her rostrum back and forth as she’s scanning him). I watched as Ben turned to face her, and chuckled at how well he handled her attention. She continued to scan him, and he began turning his body. He looked a bit unsure of what to do next, and I can only imagine the thoughts going through his head. She continued to scan him, and he started to squirm. His movements struck me as funny and I couldn’t stop laughing. Despite his uncertainty, he did a marvelous job of staying relatively still as she continued her investigation.

Then a second dolphin swam over to see what was going on. This one also started scanning Ben, and then the rest of the pod came zooming over. They positioned themselves in a tight group and all of a sudden all of them at the same moment opened their mouths and together scanned Ben with their sonar.

It was, for me, a magical moment… the focus and intensity of the dolphins was exhilarating, and Ben handled their attention with grace. One of the dolphins blew a big bubble from its blow hole, and the whole pod zoomed off, to continue their play.

We continued to swim with them as before for another hour before we got back on the boat and headed home. As we motored back to the island, we shared what had happened with Ben and the dolphins, and all the questions came pouring out…

What happened? What did they see? Why did they all scan him together, at the same time?

There are lots of possible answers, but for me, the most wonderful part was being reminded yet again how little we know about our cetacean cousins and the mystery and magic of their world…

Here is the video…



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