2021 found both JingJing and Sydney without calves – and inseparable. During trips with Dolphin Research Tours, we recorded 18 sightings of the two together in 2021 everywhere from Tarpon Bay off Big Marco Pass to Caxambas Pass and Coon Key Pass. Females of similar reproductive status often associate with each other and our suspicion was that both mother and daughter were pregnant and would give birth in September or October. JingJing did not disappoint. On September 17, at 11:00 our colleague at The Dolphin Study, Captain Michael Tateo spotted her in Collier Bay with a new born we named Genji.
Jingjing with new calf Genji in Collier Bay 9-17-2021
JingJing’s is the third birth we have documented for Marco Island’s female dolphins this year and hers certainly won’t be the last – historically September and October are when the majority of bottlenose dolphin births happen in Southwest Florida.
We will certainly be looking for Sydney to join her daughter in ushering in a new life this season. Besides her, we at Dolphin Research Tours and The Dolphin Study are tracking 50 other adult females resident to the area. 25 of them are candidates for potential births this years.
When is the birthing season for bottlenose dolphins around Marco Island?
Bottlenose dolphin births here begin in August, peak in September and can continue into the winter.
How did The Dolphin Study establish the birthing season for the dolphins of southwest Florida?
Good question. Most of our knowledge about the coastal bottlenose dolphins that inhabit the waters of Florida’s Gulf coast comes from scientists at the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program. Their scientists report that most dolphins in Sarasota Bay are born during the late spring to early summer.
Between 2006 and 2019 we documented the births of 34 bottlenose dolphin calves born to 19 female residents of the Marco Island Dolphin Community and discovered that the birthing season in southwest Florida was almost exactly opposite from that which the scientists had established for the community of dolphins around Sarasota.