App helps track dolphin activity as local sightings peak

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Posted at 4:49 AM, Jul 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-07 07:13:52-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – It’s an attraction that’s popular with both tourists and locals: Dolphin watching.

Though experts say you can spot dolphins almost year-round off the waters of Hampton Roads, late spring and early summer are great for seeing calves.

“One of my favorite things about the summertime is we have what’s considered to be a nursery ground here,” explained Alexis Rabon, a researcher with Rudee Tours. “So, that means we have the excellent fortune of seeing a lot of baby dolphins as they get their start.”

Rabon says most years, that’s the end of May through part of June; however, this year, they’re seeing some late activity.

“We’ve had a great baby boom for those animals, so hopefully that’s a good sign for their population.”

A website and app called Chesapeake Dolphin Watch will not only show users recent sightings along the Chesapeake Bay; it also helps researchers learn about the patterns and habits of the bottlenose dolphin. Rudee Tours collects data and shares it on a larger scale, but Rabon feels this is a great tool for “citizen science.”

“If you’re in the Bay, and you’re seeing anything, you can record what you’re seeing," Rabon stated. "And that going to help for them to learn more about the animals like when they’re coming through as well as how they’re using that habitat so they can better protect them.”

Related: Virginia Beach named one of the best spots for whale watching in the U.S.

If you’re reporting on the app, it will ask approximately how many dolphins you noticed. There’s a box where you can describe them, as well as a section to upload photos or videos. You can do it on your phone or afterward on a desktop.