Bottlenose Dolphins Contain Mysteries. She’s Trying To Get Answers

Claire McNeill
Tampa Bay Times

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Shannon Gowans and her husband and colleague, Peter Simard oversee a program in marine science and biology, Simard in environmental studies — and research. Gowans looks at dolphins’ societies, and socialization; Simard at their ecology, range and acoustics.

St. Petersburg

Rain flecked the fiberglass boat and the still green waters as professor Shannon Gowans pushed off from Dock 6. Her students noted in pencil the particulars of time and weather: Not ideal, perhaps, for a Saturday on the bay, but what they sought was below the surface.

The boat took on speed. Eckerd College grew small, and the muggy expanse of Boca Ciega Bay opened wide. Along the mangroves, through the channels, her three students scanned.

“There’s a dolphin,” Kaitlynn Stewart said, with urgency.

“Let me know if you see him again,” Gowans said.

“By the sign,” said Karastyn Bennett. A silver arc curved through the water, then vanished.
Stewart readied the camera and stood steady under the bimini as Gowans edged closer, then lined up with the dolphin’s path. Parallel to the dolphin meant parallel to its fin, the closest thing to a name tag it could wear.

The shutter sounded.

“Ope, got him!” Stewart said. She hoped.

The next 10 minutes passed like this: A sighting. A disappearance. A guess at the dolphin’s route and a stab at getting close.

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