The Fickle Finger of Fate
The naming of this dolphin was somewhat controversial within the GDEP team. The vertical digit-like section of her dorsal fin led some of us to think of the old one finger salute. Others favored a less edgy name. A compromise was reached by naming her after the Fickle Finger of Fate Award given out each week on the 1960s TV show “Laugh In” (younger readers can check it out on one of the vintage TV show channels). In actual practice, the inevitable tendency to shorten names leads to her being called “The Finger”.
We first observed The Finger on 27 October 2013. Based on her first few sightings, which occurred in the Intracoastal Waterway in the Spring and Fall, we thought that she may be a seasonal transient, perhaps part of the coastal migratory stock that moves along the Georgia coast twice a year as ocean water temperatures warm in the Spring and cool in the Fall with corresponding movements of prey species. That pattern, however, did not persist in subsequent years; most recent sightings have occurred during Summer months. Despite consistent survey effort, we didn’t see The Finger for a year and a half between June, 2015 and January, 2017 and had no idea where she was. The good news is that we started seeing her again consistently in Spring, 2017 and into 2018.
While we have fewer sightings of The Finger than some other dolphins, due largely to her hiatus mentioned above, we know that she scores fairly high on the sociability scale. All sightings of The Finger have occurred in an area of approximately 2 km² at the northern end of the ICW or Walburg Creek next to St. Catherine’s Island. Within that area, she has been observed interacting with over 20 other dolphins, but none with particular frequency. We need more data on The Finger to get a sense of her social network.