Category Archives: Dolphin

Dolphin, 10+ Miles From Any Ocean Inlet

I spotted one slipping past into an opening on the left of this cut.

We then heard them exhale through their blow hole.

Ellen moved off to photo them in the small salt pool, I waited for them to return. Which they had to do, only one way and out and it must be high tide.

Best viewed large, I had mounted a wide angle lens right before this.

Dolphin, 10+ Miles From Any Ocean Inlet
Dolphin, 10+ Miles From Any Ocean Inlet

Above, Two Dolphin on the edge of the grasses. A rare and amazing sight.

Note; The Lowcountry has a specific subset of Dolphin. They are Dolphin pods that do not return to the ocean. They live and fish along the coast and go inland into marshes. These two are part of one of those pods. They are also the only Dolphin that hunt in groups purposely pushing and stranding fish on the shore, where they follow to catch them.

National Geographic is in the process of filming their follow up to this group of Dolphin. None of us are sure if this will help or harm them.

We also have worked/photographed these pods extensively. Search on the word Dolphin on out menu for some incredible looks at Dolphin life.

Pelicans Fishing

A few random shots taken while catching Pelican fishing. Besides being constant action if the tide and schools of fish cooperate is the ‘others’ who are working the water also.

Below a Dolphin is also hunting on the left side of the image, a Laughing Gull hovering on the right.

Pelicans Fishing
Pelicans Fishing

Brown Pelican dive head first, always at the same angle to minimize the pressure when they hit the water.

Pelicans Fishing
Pelicans Fishing

Below, if you look carefully, you will see a Cormorant floating in the background.

Pelicans Fishing
Pelicans Fishing

No matter how much you practice most of the photographs taken are a miss. Shooting this is frustrating, and great fun.

Some Assembly Required, Dolphins

I believe Ellen published a few shots of this ‘scene’ previously. These are my quick snaps from an awkward position.

Making baby Dolphins…

Some Assembly Required, Dolphins
Some Assembly Required, Dolphins
Some Assembly Required, Dolphins
Some Assembly Required, Dolphins

Above a little cuddling, very little.

Some Assembly Required, Dolphins
Some Assembly Required, Dolphins
Some Assembly Required, Dolphins
Some Assembly Required, Dolphins

Yes it is.

Some Assembly Required, Dolphins
Some Assembly Required, Dolphins
Some Assembly Required, Dolphins
Some Assembly Required, Dolphins

Once again…

You never know what you find out there.

Passing Through The Piers, Dolphin

Birds are not the only wildlife around the shrimp boat piers.

Passing Through The Piers, Dolphin
Passing Through The Piers, Dolphin

Small pods of Dolphin work their way up and down the commercial piers. This first group I spotted were two adults and a juvenile.

Passing Through The Piers, Dolphin
Passing Through The Piers, Dolphin
Passing Through The Piers, Dolphin
Passing Through The Piers, Dolphin

None of the commercial boats were unloading any catch so they kept going by.

Passing Through The Piers, Dolphin
Passing Through The Piers, Dolphin

When the boats unload plenty of small or non commercial value catch is pushed back into the water. Dolphin wait nearby for their turn to catch fish.

Passing Through The Piers, Dolphin
Passing Through The Piers, Dolphin

Charleston, South Carolina.

Photographs At The Shrimp Pier

The number of commercial shrimpers here is smaller each year. Still a walk around the area is a photographers dream. These images were taken during a morning visit, which of course brought us into a lunch on the water.

At The Shrimper Pier, Brown Pelican
At The Shrimper Pier, Brown Pelican

Brown Pelican nest on ‘Crab Bank’ just off shore and a free meal keeps them here. Commercial boats always have fish going overboard.

At The Shrimper Pier
At The Shrimper Pier

Above are shrimpers in dock. It’s surprising how colorful they are. The netting themselves are multi colored.

At The Shrimper Pier
At The Shrimper Pier

Wholesalers here provide the Charleston restaurants feeding all the out of towners, and sell to locals who come by. It doesn’t get any fresher.

At The Shrimper Pier
At The Shrimper Pier
At The Shrimper Pier, Brown Pelican
At The Shrimper Pier, Brown Pelican

Piers lining the water have more pelicans than anything else.

At The Shrimper Pier, Dolphin
At The Shrimper Pier, Dolphin

Dolphins are usually around to compete with the Pelicans for scraps of fish when the boats return to shore. The above was two adults and a juvenile.

Charleston, South Carolina.

 

Meeting A Dolphin Eye To Eye

These photographs were taken at different times, but they show the same Dolphin behavior/thoughts when pushing fish to shore.

They know there are dangers to themselves when sliding on the sand, out of the water, to grab the fish.

They check shallows and shore before herding the fish. And they found me, looked at me, and determined I wasn’t a threat.

Meeting A Dolphin Eye To Eye
Meeting A Dolphin Eye To Eye

Above a Dolphin circles a few meters off shore checking for danger. It’s impressive to share a look with these beautiful animals.

Below is always the most exciting meeting.

Meeting A Dolphin Eye To Eye
Meeting A Dolphin Eye To Eye

This is the last minute check. A single Dolphin will swim the length of the shore to be used for stranding fish. They swim, and sound, like a freight train moving almost right in front of you.

You should never be this close, it’s bad for the photographer and Dolphin. However, you never know when they will sail by.

Above the lead Dolphin came by just below the surface, staring at me as he sailed by. I quickly stepped back since I knew what could happen if they charged this spot.

This Dolphin pod still hunt along the Charleston area shores, however they have changed locations where the will ‘strand feed’. The sands and depth are always shifting, and too many people seem to have begun to watch them from shore.

note; similar images have previously been published along with articles on Dolphin strand feeding here.

Dolphin Strand Feeding Project

I came across a file of photographs in an online account I have. They were from a project of providing stills for a Marine Mammal Network video. The MMN provides support, education, and even protection for a special few pods of Dolphin.

These Dolphin have taught themselves how to hunt by pushing and stranding fish on the shoreline. There are only a hand full in the wild most, if not all, live along the Lowcountry coastline.

Click any image to view full size.

Dolphin Strand Feeding Project -1
Dolphin Strand Feeding Project -1
Dolphin Strand Feeding Project -1
Dolphin Strand Feeding Project -1

Above this Bottlenose Dolphin pushed a school of fish onto the shore. Then followed right behind grabbing them off the sand.

Dolphin Strand Feeding Project -1
Dolphin Strand Feeding Project -1
Dolphin Strand Feeding Project -1
Dolphin Strand Feeding Project -1

The next images above show a group from the pod working together. The Dolphin actually cause waves as the work the shore.

I have published other articles in the past about this rare method. Having seen photographs Ellen posted the other day, then finding these, I though it was time to revisit for readers who have not seen this before.

Click this link for an additional informational article published locally.

Below is a gallery of several strandings, click any image for a full size.

Dolphin Hunting By Stranding Fish

This is a topic that is always of interest and recently I read a few articles that were ‘a little off’ in the details.

So I thought a another simple series with plenty of action shots was over due.

Dolphin Hunting
Dolphin Hunting

Above is a Bottlenose Dolphin hunting by pushing and stranding fish on shore. The work together as a group, or individually. However, this is a rare hunting skill known only by a few pods of Dolphin of the Lowcountry coast. Basically the taught themselves a new way to fish.

Dolphin Hunting
Dolphin Hunting

To start the tide and shoreline must be right and safe for a Dolphin to strand themselves on shore. The must be able to roll back into the ocean.

At first a Dolphin swims right along the shore, looking up at the beach (and here me also).

If the feel safe they next herd schools of fish by either swimming around them in circles, splashing and causing confusion, or charging right at them.

Dolphin Hunting
Dolphin Hunting

Ultimately the fish a driven into the shallows, or on shore. Right behind them are Dolphins catching the trapped fish.

Dolphin Hunting
Dolphin Hunting

When a 1,000 lb, 11 foot, group of Dolphin hit the shore it’s a loud tidal wave. The entire attack is no more than a few seconds and you never see it coming until the last moment. Always stand away from the shoreline when they are feeding. You will get hurt or scare away the feeding pod.

Dolphin Hunting
Dolphin Hunting

After the catch a Dolphin will always roll back into the water. They only push to land on their right side. If you ever get to see a dorsal fin of a strand feeder it’s very obvious. One side of their fin is always scraped.

There are groups trying to protect this small group and I don’t think anyone knows how many there actually are that have learned this technique. A guess is maybe 100… in the world since this is the only place it’s been documented.

This article is a little longer than most, but this is a fascinating topic and important to remember as our climate and world change.