Maldives Dolphin ID Project: 2022-2023

Check out the project page first, for a background of the types of dolphins (and other Cetacean species) sighted in the Maldives, and enjoy our updated diary entries and photos, below.

Dolphin Diary 2022

JANUARY 2022

At Kuda Huraa this month, we recorded 448 Spinners during 13 guest excursions, swimming in pods of between 10 to 80 individuals, during encounters lasting an average of 40 minutes. From our ID photographs, we confirmed resightings of two known individuals. Our database now totals 247 uniquely identified Spinners (using 546 photographic sightings).

At Landaa, we sighted 691 Spinners during the eight dolphin trips this month, in encounters lasting between three to 45 minutes. Calves were sighted in most pods, and common behaviours included cruising, playing, jumping, and bow-riding. From our ID photographs, we confirmed 12 Spinner resightings, and added 11 new uniquely identifiable Spinners to our database.

FEBRUARY

At Kuda Huraa this month, we sighted 470 Spinner dolphins across 15 trips, in pods of 10 to 60 individuals, with encounters lasting an average of 38 minutes. One Spinner was positively identified as a resighting. Our current database totals 247 uniquely identified Spinner dolphin individuals (from 547 photos).

At Landaa, we recorded 430 Spinners and two Bottlenose dolphins, across six excursions in encounters lasting between three to 35 minutes. From our photographs, we were able to uniquely identify six new Spinners, and confirmed six resightings.

MARCH

At Kuda Huraa, we had an impressive number of cetacean sightings across 15 excursions that included not only Spinners (470 individuals) and Bottlenose (35), but also Pilot Whales (52), False Killer Whales (100), and the rarely seen Risso’s Dolphins (6). On average, our encounters lasted 27 minutes, and dolphin calves were usually present.
From our ID photos, we confirmed one Spinner resighting.

At Landaa, we recorded 784 Spinners, two Bottlenose, and 20 Short-Finned Pilot Whales across 13 guest excursions, with encounter times averaging 22 minutes.
From our ID photos, we added two new individual Bottlenose plus nine Spinners to the database (and confirmed 11 Spinner resightings).

Dolphin ID project Spinners Maldives

Playful Spinners jumping in the waves

Dolphin ID project Spinner SL162

Resighting of Spinner #SL162 (Kuda Huraa, January 2022)

marine biology internship Maldives Matt (14) dolphins [1080]

Spinner dolphins are by far the most commonly sighted Cetacean species in the Maldives, and are always a delight to encounter

Dolphin ID Spinners added to database

Spinners added to database in April (at Landaa)

APRIL 2022

At Kuda Huraa this month across 13 guest excursions we recorded 607 Spinners, 30 Bottlenose, 12 Risso’s and 30 Pilot Whales. The largest pod of Spinners consisted of 100 individuals; encounters lasted an average of 31 minutes, and dolphin calves were sighted in most of the pods. Excitingly, one Pilot whale was identified as a resighting. The current database totals now stand at: 44 Bottlenose, 26 Pilot whales, 548 Spinners.

At Landaa, we sighted 483 Spinners across eight excursions, in encounters lasting 5 to 25 minutes. Common behaviours included cruising, playing, jumping, and bow riding. From our ID photos, we were able to uniquely identify eleven new Spinner individuals, and confirm eight resightings.

MAY

At Kuda Huraa this month, we recorded 965 Spinners across 12 trips, swimming in pods of between 20 to 150 individuals, in encounters averaging 37 minutes. From our ID photos, we added three new Spinners to the database, and confirmed six resightings.

At Landaa, we held three guest excursions and sighted 50 Spinners plus three Bottlenose. From our ID photos, we added nine new Spinners and confirmed seven resightings of known individuals.

JUNE

At Landaa this month, we recorded 302 Spinners across seven excursions, in encounters lasting from 10 to 32 minutes. From our ID photos, we added nine Spinners to our database, and confirmed seven resightings.

At Kuda Huraa, we sighted 965 Spinners across twelve trips, and were able to add 3 new Spinners to our database and confirmed 6 resightings.
Our database totals: 558 photographs of 250 Spinners.

Excitingly, we also recorded our first ever pod of:
Pan-tropic Spotted dolphins – 
> smaller than Bottlenose, larger than Spinners.

> less of the tricolor than Spinners.
> without the white Spinner belly.
> Behaviour – long high jumps (rather than spinning).

Bottlenose dolphins Maldives identification

Bottlenose dolphins at play

Dolphin jumping Risso's Maldives

Risso’s dolphin leaping from the water … a very rare treat for us in April, on a guest excursion from Kuda Huraa

Pan-tropic spotted dolphin Maldives rare

A very rare sight in Maldives! …

Pan-tropic spotted dolphin Maldives rare

… ‘Pan-tropic spotted dolphins‘, sighted at Kuda Huraa in June 2022

Dolphin ID new Spinners

Spinner dolphins – uniquely identified by their fin shape, named, and added to our database

JULY 2022

At Kuda Huraa this month, we held 12 cruises and recorded totals of: 720 Spinners, 150 Risso’s, and 100 Pantropic-Spotted dolphins. From the photographs we took on each trip, we were able to confirm the resightings of three known individuals already in our database.

At Landaa, we sighted 195 Spinners and five Bottlenose across 11 excursions, in encounters averaging 15 minutes duration. From our ID photos:
– Spinners – two added to the database; five confirmed resightings.
– Bottlenose – one new individual added; one confirmed resighting.

AUGUST

At Kuda Huraa this month, we recorded a total of 770 Spinners, added one new dolphin to our database (SL256, Slater), and confirmed resightings of four known individuals (Iron, Sharpie, Doctor, Snow).

We are now sharing the Kuda Huraa data with our Reefscapers colleagues at Sheraton (also in Kaafu Atoll) to merge our combined efforts into a single database, usable by both teams.

At Landaa, we recorded 250 Spinners, seven Bottlenose, and five Risso’s (first time for Risso’s at Landaa) in encounters lasting from five to 30 minutes duration. We held seven guest excursions; the weather was variable, and the waves were mostly choppy.
From our ID photos, we added one new Risso’s and four new Spinners to our database, and confirmed two Spinner resightings (Sky and Akil).

SEPTEMBER

At Kuda Huraa this month, we recorded an impressive 865 Spinners across 11 guest excursions. From our ID photographs, we added one new uniquely identified Spinner (‘Bobby’ SL115) and confirmed the resightings of four known individuals from our database.

At Landaa, we held nine excursions and sighted 360 Spinners, in encounters lasting 25-35 minutes. We were able to add three new Spinners to our database, and confirmed four resightings.

In addition, we were also lucky to spot three Bottlenose dolphins while working on the reef. Interestingly, two of these were already known to us from a previous recorded sighting of the same pair in November 2021 (‘Boreas’ TT0112, and ‘Helios’ TT011).

Dolphin ID most frequently sighted

Our top-sighted Spinners and Bottlenose dolphins, at Landaa Giraavaru (as at September 2022)

OCTOBER 2022

At Kuda Huraa this month, we enjoyed 12 Dolphin Cruises, accompanied by 104 Resort guests. We recorded sightings of 1075 Spinners, and confirmed resightings of seven known individuals (including ‘Snow’ [SL078]).

At Landaa, during six Dolphin Cruises we sighted 80 Spinners plus 11 Bottlenose, in encounters lasting an average of 15 minutes.

NOVEMBER

At Kuda Huraa this month, we recorded 1710 Spinners, and thanks to some lovely calm ocean days, we were able to add an impressive 30 new sightings to our database, and confirm the identity of six new individuals. We were also pleased to spot ‘Snow’ (SL078) on multiple occasions.

At Landaa, we sighted 400 Spinners in encounters lasting an average of 30 minutes, and added 2 new individuals to our database (along with 3 confirmed resightings). Also, we were lucky to encounter a small pod of Bottlenose dolphins close to our House Reef, where we interestingly resighted ‘Boreas’ (TT0112) each day for three consecutive days. One new Bottlenose was also added to our database.

DECEMBER

At Kuda Huraa during December we held ten excursions for a total of 60 guests, and recorded 1215 Spinners plus 10 false killer whales. Due to the calm sea conditions and good weather, we were able to take plenty of quality photos that resulted in six new Spinners being uniquely identified and added to our database.

At Landaa this month we sighted 575 Spinners across 11 trips in encounters averaging 23 minutes. We were also lucky to have a rare sighting of a sperm whale (spotted at the edge of the atoll between Voavah and Landaa). From our photographs, we added ten new Spinners to our database, and confirmed a further seven resightings

Dolphin ID Maldives ('Snow')

We are always delighted to spot our favourite Spinner dolphin ‘Snow’ (SL078)

ANNUAL FACTS & FIGURES FOR 2022

Kuda Huraa’s stats from 2022 include:

  • Spinner dolphins: 18 new individuals, plus 116 resightings
  • Bottlenose dolphins: 15 new individuals
  • Pilot whales: five new individuals, plus one resighting of “Margo” [GM015]. A total of four pilot whales have now been resighted, indicating a local resident pod
  • Risso’s dolphins: two new individuals
  • The Reefscapers teams have submitted a scientific research paper discussing our sightings of “Snow” (SL078). If successfully published, it will become the first paper to use our Dolphin ID data set, and a first for Reefscapers on Cetaceans!

 Landaa’s totals for 2022 include:

  • 4500 Cetaceans recorded over the 96 dolphin trips
  • Spinner dolphins made up 99% of total Cetaceans, with rarer sightings of Bottlenose, Risso’s, Short fin pilot whales, and one Sperm whale

Dolphin Diary 2023

January 2023

 

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