Update on Dolphin Education Program

Dolphin mom and calfOur summer dolphin education program is underway! The beaches have been busy and so have the dolphins. Over the last month we’ve seen an increase in dolphin activity. The mother (KoKo) and calf (yet to be named) have been spending many hours in the inlet. KoKo has found the spit to be a safe place for her calf. They are often there swimming, rolling, feeding, and learning. KoKo is an active strand feeder and you’ll often find her calf close by.  The calf is about 3 months old now and we’re starting to see something called “alloparenting” where other females will watch her calf. Dolphin_Hook_with_KoKos_cal_July_2018This past week is the first time I’ve seen two other females swimming closely with KoKo’s calf. One of them, STEP, is a well-known mother. She’s about 28 years old and has had at least 5 calves.

Dolphins Stranding on SI July 2018

Our new signs are working! People are respecting them when they are posted. They are only posted when an educator is present. We are still in need of more volunteer educators to work on the beach to ensure daily coverage. We require 2-3 shifts per month. Each shift is 4 hours but can be flexible. If interested in learning more please email: kiawahdolphineducation@gmail.com.

Dolphin_Kayakers_July_2018We’ve noticed an increase in kayakers harassing dolphins in the spit. Kayakers can often be more disruptive as they can get too close too quickly and are hard to maneuver around animals. NOAA recommends not approaching dolphins within 50 yards from a kayak to reduce your risk of harassing them, not crowding close to shore, following, chasing, and limiting your time with the dolphins. Be even more careful around KoKo and her calf- she is very protective. With continued harassment, we all risk the dolphins abandoning this unique beautiful behavior.

–Submitted by Lauren Rush, LMMN