Interpreting Group Composition
When you’re observing dolphins, it is useful to know the composition of the group or pod. How many are there and are there any calves present?
It can be tricky to count the number of dolphins in a group as they spend most of their time under the water. But if you keep a lookout and count how many dolphins come to the surface to breath repeatedly, over time, you’ll get an idea of how many there are. One tip is to also observe how many breathes an individual dolphin takes as it surfaces. Typically, one dolphin will take 1 to 3 breaths with each surface. This can help you to gain an understanding of their dive patterns and avoid double counting individuals in the group.
Now you know how many dolphins there are, take a closer look at the composition. Look out for those little calves. We define calves as those that are less then 2/3 the body length of an adult and are still dependent on their mothers. Calves will spend the majority of their time next to an adult in infant or baby position – where they swim in the slip stream next to the mothers side.