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The Wild Dolphin of North Hutchinson Island

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Dateline: North Hutchinson Island 

Large pods of wild dolphin, known more appropriately as porpoises, have been spotted many times this week in the warm waters of the Indian River Lagoon and our Atlantic Ocean.

Scientists who track and study these amazing mammals report that our wild dolphin, bottle noise porpoises, are quite at home in our local waters. Odds are that if you kayak, paddleboard or boat in the Indian River Lagoon you will see these wonderful creatures chasing fish and sometimes even putting on a special performance of leaps and flips high into the air.

The Indian River Lagoon features and estimated 300 bottlenose dolphins. These mammals typically live in harbors, bays, gulfs, and estuaries that are in temperate and tropical waters so the lagoon’s environment is quite ideal for them. The dolphins that reside in the Indian River Lagoon rarely, if ever, leave the lagoon while they reside there. They typically end up residing in specific areas in either the northern part of the lagoon or the southern part.

Studies on the bottlenose dolphins of the Indian River Lagoon have shown that there is a difference in the health of the dolphins depending on where they reside. While it’s still unknown exactly why it’s this way, those dolphins that reside in the northern part of the lagoon tend to have significantly greater health issues that those the reside in the southern portion of the lagoon.

One of the best parts about boating, kayaking, or paddle-boarding on the Indian River Lagoon is the ability to explore the animals that reside in its waters in their natural habitat. Given that it is the most biodiverse estuary in North America, over 2,200 different species of animals reside in the lagoon. The bottlenose dolphin is one of the best known and loved water-residing animals, and the Indian River Lagoon features an estimated 300 in total.

If you venture offshore, the pods of bottle nose porpoise are sometimes very large. It is not uncommon to find a pod of porpoise that will swim along with your boat (sometimes up to 20+ miles per hour). Many residents and visitors alike have reported baby porpoise sometimes swim alongside their boats and glance upward as if asking "who and what are you?". 

If you have great photos or video of our wild dolphin, share with us! We may be able to post your photos and video here on our website.