At the time of her death in 2017, Nicklo was 67 — making her the oldest documented wild dolphin in the world. During the existence of our research program — which we began 20 years after she was born — we sighted her more than 820 times. Our last confirmed sighting of Nicklo was in 2017 and she is presumed to be deceased.
We know that Nicklo gave birth to at least four calves during her life, including her last calf, Eve, which was born when Nicklo was 48. Eve gave birth to her own calf, F286, in 2012.
As with most of our long-lived Sarasota Bay residents, Nicklo’s life highlights that the bay is the dolphins’ home over many decades and across multiple generations. It’s also interesting to think about what she has seen over her lifetime, especially changes in coastal development and boat traffic.
A Dolphin’s Voice
A Special Note About the Audio Recording
In collaboration with numerous colleagues over the past 35 years, our dolphin communication research team has collected thousands of hours of acoustic recordings from members of the resident Sarasota bottlenose dolphin community, with a focus on individually distinctive signature whistles. Recordings have been made during periodic health assessments, when we are able to obtain high-quality recordings of known individual dolphins. We are currently in the process of systematically assembling a verified signature whistle catalog, with multiple samples from each of the approximately 1,000 unique recording sessions of almost 300 individual dolphins. Members of this collaborative team, and our student researchers, come from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the University of North Carolina Wilmington, University of St. Andrews, and Hampshire College. Learn more about dolphin communication.
In 2014, Nicklo was still leaping and socializing at age 64.
Nicklo, far left, in 2012
From left to right: Nicklo, Blacktip Doubledip, calf F286 and Eve. Eve is Nicklo’s daughter and F286 is Eve’s son. F286 was Nicklo’s only known grand-calf. Blacktip Doubledip and Nicklo were frequently seen together until 62-year-old Blacktip Doubledip disappeared in 2016.
Dolphin Biology Research Institute — DBA as the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program — is dedicated to research and conservation of dolphins and their habitat. View our profile at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County Giving Partner portal.
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