Meet the most recent ‘young-of-the-year’ in Galveston Bay

  • August 11, 2022
  • News

The second quarter of the year is when we expect to meet the most new calves, and this year was no exception! So far, the Galveston Bay Dolphin Research Program has documented over a dozen young-of-the-year (YOYs) that belong to moms in their catalog.

By May each year, we typically start seeing large mother/calf groups in upper Galveston Bay. Studies in other estuaries have shown that dolphin mothers congregate in groups as a defense mechanism (to help keep predators and male aggressors away) and for social benefits, including calf care and social learning.

One of the most interesting aspects of observing mother/calf pairs is seeing them copy and learn behaviors from their mothers and conspecifics (other dolphins).

In June, GDRP researchers observed a group of dolphins that were initially behind a shrimp trawler. When the trawler pulled in its nets, the group moved to “bow-ride” a very small moving barge. There was barely any wake to ride, so it looked a bit silly! But, it seemed like that perfect opportunity for the small calves in the group to learn and practice their bow riding skills with their mothers. It was a short lesson though!

As soon as the trawler set its net back in the water, the dolphins left the barge and went back to the trawler. Foraging behind trawlers is another behavior that calves may learn from their mothers.

Please consider making a donation to support our surveys. You will help us answer important remaining questions about where these dolphins and their young live throughout the year.

Have you seen dolphins in Galveston Bay or surrounding waters? Please tell us about it by filling out our sighting form. This is an easy and effective way to notify GDRP about when and where you have seen dolphins. Always follow dolphin safe viewing guidelines.