Dolphin FB79


Name: FB79, also known as Vespa

Sex: Female

Age: Born 1979. Died 2022.

A Dolphin’s Life

We first identified Vespa in 1985 and over the years, members of the SDRP observed her more than 1,100 times. We know that Vespa gave birth to at least 11 calves and that two of her daughters have given birth to seven calves of their own. She also had two great-grand calves. In 2021, Vespa gave birth to her 11th calf. (Check out the video clip below.)

Unfortunately, many of her calves and grandcalves have not survived.

Why? Vespa’s lineage is known for interacting with people fishing: stalking boats, bridges and piers and waiting for discarded bait and catch. It seems that Vespa has been passing bad behaviors down to her calves and grandcalves, which has led to their entanglement in fishing line, hooking, ingestion of gear and other negative interactions.

In 2022, our partners at Mote Marine Laboratory’s Stranding Investigations Program recovered Vespa’s body. It was too badly decomposed to determine the cause of her death. Her 2021 calf was just 17 months old when it was orphaned and we are keeping an eye on it to see whether it picked up its mother’s bad habits of interacting with humans, or whether it will develop less risky feeding patterns.

While we couldn’t “untrain” Vespa’s bad behaviors during her life, we can all play a role in helping to curb bad dolphin behavior when we’re fishing by following a few simple dolphin-friendly fishing tips

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.

F199 surfacing
F199 catching a fish