Bottlenose Dolphin Research
Part of the Aquarium's Research & Conservation Division, the Stranding Response Program has been studying coastal bottlenose dolphins since 1989. Team researchers take photographs of dolphin dorsal fins looking for distinct features to identify individual animals, almost like fingerprints. This process is called photo-ID and can provide insight into dolphin migration and life history. For example, we have observed young dolphins grow up to be mothers, and others return year after year to Virginia. To date, we have identified more than 1,000 individual dolphins in Virginia waters. By comparing our photo-ID catalog with others from the mid-Atlantic region, we can identify individuals and study how they move with the seasons.