RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — Dolphins are typically thought of as friendly, smart, and interesting mammals, but WPTV is learning from a locally-based research team there is much more to gain from studying dolphins.
The research team with the Wild Dolphin Project recently returned from their latest mission in the Bahamas. They, in part, studied how migrant dolphins are mixing with resident pods.
“Because you can see under the water in the Bahamas, we look at their communication and try to crack their code to see if they have a language,” said Dr. Denise Herzing, who founded the Wild Dolphin Project in the 80s in the West Palm Beach area.
As Herzing explained, the team observed typical social behaviors for dolphins, possibly indicating migrant dolphins are having continued success in co-existing with resident pods.
Florida Atlantic University student Hayley Knapp had several eye-opening moments during the mission.
“We were motoring around looking for dolphins and I was like – hey, there’s a piece of trash, and there. It was everywhere, like something had dumped a bunch of trash in the ocean,” Knapp said.
“Dolphins are top predators, and they’re a really good indication of the health of oceans,” said Cindy Elliser, founder of Pacific Mammal Research. “So, if we know the pod of dolphins in South Florida isn’t doing well, there might be something happening in the environment we need to take care of.”
“It matters that we learn to re-love things in the ocean and find strategies to mitigate what we’ve done,” Herzing said.