10 Nov 2022

10 Nov 22 - Indonesia - Banda Sea Cruise Day 15 - Fraser's Dolphins

We were still at sea on the crossing from Pantar Island to Kalaotoa Island when we woke up. Just after 05:30, we saw a large pod of Dolphins in the distance. Initially, the views were poor & the light wasn't great. A few were seen jumping, but they were still distant. Our initial thought based upon the first sightings was they were probably Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins, based upon the small size. But we didn't realise at the time that they were Fraser's Dolphins. It would have been easy had we checked the photos at the time, but none of the photographers including myself did check them.
Fraser's Dolphin: Looking at these photos I can see why we initially thought they were Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins
Fraser's Dolphin: Had I looked at this distant photo, then it would have been obvious it wasn't a pod of Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins
Fraser's Dolphin: A second individual. The pinky belly with the thin dark & pale stripes on the sides of the body rule out Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin & looks good for Fraser's Dolphin
Fraser's Dolphin: A clearer view of the facial stripe
Fraser's Dolphin
Fraser's Dolphin: A third individual
Suddenly, somebody spotted one of the Dolphins was right next to the starboard side of the Lady Denok. There was time to grab a few photos, as well as, to just enjoy the spectacle. Soon after, more Fraser's Dolphins were seen much further out on the starboard side, but they were too far out for any worthwhile photos. As the Fraser's Dolphins moved past the Lady Denok, we saw a distant pod of Blackfish, which were probably Short-finned Pilot Whales, but I didn't get good views of them & they quickly disappeared from view. As a result, I didn't go back to look at the Dolphin photos. So, it was a pleasant surprise when I came to sort these photos out to see these blatantly obvious Fraser's Dolphin photos, rather than the Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins we had initially called them as. It was nice to get a belated Cetacean Tick.
Fraser's Dolphin: It is clearly a small tubby Dolphin with a very short beak which would eliminate Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin
Fraser's Dolphin
Fraser's Dolphin: This is an uncropped photo & I couldn't fit it all in. Sometimes having a 100 - 400 mm lens & a 1.6 magnification within the camera is just too big an effective magnification
Fraser's Dolphin: The dark & light stripes on the sides of the body & the distinctive short beak are diagnostic of Fraser's Dolphin
As we got closer to Kalaotoa we saw a small pod of Dolphins that looked like Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins. They appear to be small uniform-coloured Dolphins with short & chunky beaks. I had previously posted photos of what I thought were Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins, but which were subsequently reidentified as Spinner Dolphins. But the Spinner Dolphins had proportionally longer & thinner beaks.
Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin
Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin
At one point, we also saw a couple of Cuvier's Beaked Whales.
Cuvier's Beaked Whale: The first individual showing the typical paler head
Cuvier's Beaked Whale: The second individual
It had been a good crossing for Cetaceans. But finally, we could see Kalaotoa & we had to get ready for the afternoon landing.