Jun 7, 2022 - News

Tampa Bay's dolphins might be up to something

Dolphins swim in the wake of a Tampa Bay Waterkeeper boat last March near Port Manatee.

Dolphins swim in the wake of a Tampa Bay Waterkeeper boat last March near Port Manatee. Photo: Mike Lang/Imagn Content Services, LLC

Are dolphins in Tampa Bay behaving in unusual ways? And if so, what's causing it? Those are the questions on the minds of locals after several odd incidents.

  • And, caveat: We have way more questions than answers.

What's happening: Late last week, criminal defense lawyer Bjorn Brunvand filmed a dolphin approach his dock on the intracoastal waterway in Largo, turn on its side, and swim along his seawall sideways for a spell before disappearing into the depths.

  • He's lived there since 2005 and has never seen such behavior.

And on Sunday, while fishing for snapper near the Weedon Island Preserve, Ben's daughter filmed a dolphin swim up to the boat and just sorta … stay put.

  • It hovered nearby, close enough to pet, for about 45 minutes. No one on the boat had ever seen anything like it.

Driving the news: We asked y'all Monday if you've noticed anything unusual lately, and several of you have.

  • One reader reports that he was fishing Saturday off Anna Maria Island, near the Sunshine Skyway, when he noticed a pod of dolphins swimming as usual β€” but one wasn't jumping. It was swimming with its rostrum out of the water, like a snorkel. It swam like that the full five minutes he watched, never going under once.
  • Another reader reports that dolphins have been stealing his live scaled sardines off his lines while fishing at the Skyway. "That hasn't happened to me in 30 years of fishing Tampa Bay waters," he writes.

We reached out to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and several area aquariums to try to reach a dolphin expert to tell us whether any of this is all that unusual.

  • Yes, but: We couldn't get any satisfying answers by press time.

It's weird though, right?

Have you noticed our marine mammal friends acting oddly? Email us what you saw and we'll get some answers.

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