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About the project

Dolphins are beautiful, charismatic animals and one of the largest inhabitants of the Chesapeake Bay. But we know very little about them. When, where and why do they visit the Bay? We need your help to find out! The bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) is common along the U.S. Atlantic coast. They are generally spotted in the Chesapeake Bay during the summer with reports of dolphins seen leaping in the air or bow-riding boats. They have a gray body and are named “bottlenose” after their short, stubby beaks. Adult bottlenose dolphins can range in size from 300-1200 pounds and reach 9 to 12 feet in length. They feed on a variety of prey, including fish and squid.

Dr. Helen Bailey and her team at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, are studying how often dolphins actually come into the Chesapeake Bay, how long they spend here, what areas of the Bay they are using and why.

View dolphins responsibly +
  • Please don’t feed, swim with or pet wild dolphins. They are federally protected animals, and it is against the law. Dolphins can also bite!
  • Keep at least 50 yards between yourself and the dolphins at all times. If dolphins approach your boat, please put your engine into neutral to avoid disturbing them.
  • Don’t try to initiate bow-riding behavior, as this would be considered harassment. If dolphins are bow-riding your boat, you can maintain speed and direction.
  • If you’re fishing when you spot dolphins, you can reduce the risk of hooking or injuring them by pulling your gear out of the water, as they may try to steal the bait or catch.
  • In Maryland, report injured and stranded marine mammals and sea turtles to 1-800-628-9944.
Learn More
Additional Projects +
Responsible Marine Wildlife Viewing

The NOAA offers guidelines for viewing marine wildlife responsibly. Please review their guidelines as you watch marine mammals in their natural habitat.

More coming soon!