When Dolphins Fly –
Imagine the surprise of St. Augustine Eco Tour Owner and graduate student Zach McKenna when he spotted a flying dolphin! McKenna and a team of volunteers are part of a Florida based consortium of researchers that collect data throughout the year to better understand the dynamics of the local bottlenose dolphin population. McKenna peered through the lens of his camera hoping for a great dorsal fin shot (each image helps to create a catalog of individual animals in the area due to their unique fin shapes). “It was just a regular survey day with average fin shots until this animal came flying through the scope of my lens, it happened within the blink of an eye!” Icons of the ocean, bottlenose dolphins are among the most beloved of all creatures and McKenna just can’t believe his luck that his life revolves around observing and helping to conserve these amazing animals.
*Notice the nearly red Xenobalanus barnacle (an animal related to shrimp and lobsters) attached to the dorsal fin.
*Please note this photo was taken under the authorization of NOAA/NMFS Research Letter of Confirmation # 14157. The legal distance for people without research permits to observe or photograph marine mammals in the wild is 150 feet.