In February of 2017, Nani, the matriarch of our bottlenose dolphin colony, passed away quietly after a brief decline. At 46 years old, Nani was an incredibly nurturing member of the family—both to her dolphin relatives and the people who cared for her.
In the six months since Nani’s passing, our staff has been closely monitoring for significant changes in our group’s social dynamics. The colony continues to exhibit behaviors consistent with fission-fusion, a social organization observed in many group-living species where groups merge (fusion) or split (fission) based on gender and age. Currently, the dolphins are being co-mingled, meaning the male and female sub-groups spend most of their days together. The time the dolphins spend together as one group has been increasing incrementally over the last year.
Bottlenose dolphins are incredibly intelligent, charismatic and social animals. Through years of extensive research and observation, our marine mammal experts know communication and connection are key to the healthy function of dolphin colonies both in human care and in the wild. The social dynamics of our colony will continue to be a crucial marker in the success of their transition and acclimation to our future sanctuary.