It was the third 'Supermoon' of the year, that got me out both last night and early this morning for photographs. But I found a big bonus in the river after moon-set this morning.
During the spring and early summer in southeast Virginia, family groups of the common Bottlenose Dolphin [Tursiops truncatus], move from the Atlantic ocean to calmer waters of bays and tidal rivers to allow the mothers to give birth and nurture the calves in more protected areas.
When you see a group like this, you'll find the new calves and their mothers at the center of a loose circle, being protected by the rest of the pod. If you're in a boat, don't approach or feed them, [it's illegal], detour around the pod or cut your engine and wait, the older adults and juveniles often approach out of curiosity or to warn you away from the youngsters. If you're on the shoreline when you see them it's best to stay there; entering the water could interrupt their feeding, startle the mothers and you may wind up being threatened by the adult males [who can reach over 1,000 lbs]. Leave them be and enjoy the privilege of being able to see the youngsters and hear their breaths and splashes.
If you're at the shore and see fins, how do you quickly tell whether it's sharks or dolphin? Look first for the dorsal fin; in a shark it's very straight and triangular, but with dolphins it's curved back towards the tail. Next; listen for the dolphin's breathing, a quick and loud *puff* of an exhale followed by a fast inhale. Third, [and best way imo], look for how they move their body as they swim. Sharks move side to side with their tail motion; dolphin move their tail up and down with their whole body curved and moving in the same direction.
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