Sanibel Sea School students climb aboard Stars & Stripes for real seafaring adventure
Dolphin Week at Sanibel Sea School was full of fun in the water. There was plenty of teamwork games, boat rides, and snorkeling enhanced our understanding of how dolphin pods survive and thrive around our island.
We began our week at Buttonwood Beach, where we divided into pods to compete in the Dolphin Olympics. Campers raced through an obstacle course, played tug of war and tried to untangle human knots. We improved our teamwork skills and learned that dolphins form alliances and cooperate in complicated ways to hunt and catch fish.
We also learned that dolphins use echolocation to understand the world around them. They are able to send sound waves through the water and visualize their surroundings based on the resounding echoes.
Echolocation allows dolphins to see in a more complex way than humans. In addition to determining the shape, size and texture of objects, they are able to sense internal structures. A dolphin can use echolocation to tell if a woman swimming in the ocean is pregnant.
We played echo games to practice our own sonar skills, and realized that echolocation is not always as simple as it seems.
For an early Fourth of July celebration, we climbed aboard the Stars & Stripes to search for dolphins. Our patience paid off when a small pod of bottlenose dolphins frolicked around the boat and treated us to a playful display of flips and jumps. When we returned to sea school, we took a dolphin’s perspective and spent a few minutes writing in our personalized potato-stamped journals.
Dolphins love to surf, so we channeled our inner dolphins by practicing our surfing skills in the Gulf of Mexico. The waves were bigger than average, so some campers had a chance to ride all the way to the beach. We also enjoyed our usual camp activities like creating collaborative artwork, making macramé jewelry and tying useful knots.
We had a fabulous week, but it would not have been possible without help from our community partners. We want to say thanks to the Stars & Stripes for helping us find dolphins to observe, and to Bailey’s General Store for donating ice to keep our water cold. Thank you to Billy’s Bikes and Matzaluna’s for providing cardboard and butcher paper for our dolphin mosaics, and to the Sanibel Community House for allowing us to use their facility for our weekly Milk & Cookies slideshow.
Sanibel Sea School is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to marine conservation through transformative education, communication, and research. Visit us online at www.sanibelseaschool.org.