RT-3 and FB 28, two of the 12 dolphins first tagged in 1970-71, were sighted together by SDRP staff in early December 2012.
These males helped us establish for the first time that bottlenose dolphins were year round residents in Sarasota Bay. Prior to that, scientists had no clear evidence about whether dolphins wandered up and down the coast or tended to be part of resident dolphin communities.
Sightings from the 1970-71 pilot study were the basis for the current SDRP data set. Building on these original re-sightings, we have now compiled more than 480,000 photos, taken during more than 41,000 group sightings, and we have more than 4,800 distinctive individuals in our identification catalog. As you can imagine, identifying a specific dolphin from among all the possibilities can sometimes be a chore.
RT-3 and FB 28 are now 49- and 47-yr-old males, respectively. They have only been seen together eight times in 42 years, and it will be interesting to see if they continue to swim together and form a male alliance.
The male pair bond is one of the most interesting and strongest aspects of bottlenose dolphin social structure, and it was discovered in Sarasota Bay. Adult males, especially those of similar age, often “pair up,” which apparently improves their reproductive success and may also help with prey capture, protection from sharks, and in battles with other males.
And speaking of old timer-males, SDRP founders Blair Irvine, Randall Wells and Michael Scott, are still around too. Blair is the SDRP web master, Randy is the SDRP Director, and Michael studies dolphin-tuna interactions in the eastern tropical Pacific. They are President, Treasurer, and VP/Secretary respectively, of our non-profit Dolphin Biology Research Institute.