Dol­phin sight­ings not un­usual in the bay

Mam­mals seen June 26 off Breezy Point

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By GRETCHEN PHILLIPS gphillips@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @GretchenEn­tNews

While rid­ing on a boat with fam­ily and friends, Kal­lie Fat­tizzi, 13, spot­ted dol­phins. Lots of dol­phins.

It was late morn­ing Sunday, June 26, 2 miles off­shore from Calvert County’s Breezy Point, when Fat­tizzi spot­ted fins and told Dave Call of Owings, the driver of the boat, what she saw.

“There were a ton of dol­phins,” Fat­tizzi, of Hunt­ing­town, re­called see­ing as the boat got closer.

Call’s wife, Shel­ley Beavers-Call, said this was the first she’d seen a dol­phin in the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay, and she has lived in the area her whole life.

Beavers-Call said the wa­ter “was like glass” that day and may have con­trib­uted to her hav­ing been able to see the pod.

The party of seven who were headed by boat to Solomons stayed with the pod for a while tak­ing pic­tures and video. Beavers-Call said there was a mul­ti­tude of dol­phins, “as far out as you can see in ev­ery di­rec­tion.”

A video she sent to The En­ter­prise last week of the ex­pe­ri­ence quickly made the rounds on so­cial me­dia, with tens of thou­sands of likes and shares.

Amanda Weschler, Ma­rine Mam­mal & Sea Tur­tle Strand­ing Co­or­di­na­tor for Mary­land’s Depart­ment of Natural Re­sources, said it is not un­com­mon to see dol­phins this time of year.

“They mi­grate into our area fol­low­ing food sources into the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay and its trib­u­taries typ­i­cally be­tween May and Oc­to­ber when wa­ter tem­per­a­tures are at their warmest,” Weschler said.

She said dol­phins fol­low schools of fish and in ad­di­tion, not­ing their in­tel­li­gence, “they have been known to fol­low wa­ter­men and com­mer­cial fish­ing ves­sels.”

Lo­cal wa­ter­man Craig Kel­ley said he spends a lot of time on the lower Po­tomac and St. Mary’s River and “I’ve seen [dol­phins] all my life de­pend­ing on the year,” he said. Kel­ley said some­times, dol­phins will be­come in­ter­ested in his boat re­call­ing one oc­cas­sion when, ”they got right friendly with my boat.”

David Boyer, cu­ra­tor of es­tu­ar­ine bi­ol­ogy for the Calvert Ma­rine mu­seum hasn’t per­son­ally seen any dol­phins in this area but knows that it is not un­com­mon as there are a va­ri­ety of ma­rine mam­mals that come into the bay in­clud­ing hump­back whales, har­bor seal and the oc­ca­sional man­a­tee. A man­a­tee was spot­ted last July in the shal­lows of St. Ge­orge Creek in Piney Point and Boyer said a hump­back whale was spot­ted in the bay in re­cent months.

“They’re fun to see,” he said of the var­i­ous ma­rine mam­mals.

Weschler said dol­phins “typ­i­cally travel in large pods and will re­main in our area as long as food sources are abun­dant.”

She said that peo­ple are welcome to take pho­tos and videos when they see dol­phins and re­minded that they are pro­tected un­der fed­eral law and peo­ple should not get too close or do any­thing that might be con­sid­ered ha­rass­ment. She said for the safety of both dol­phins and hu­mans, the crea­tures should be ad­mired from a dis­tance.

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