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Meet Ceebie

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Ceebie was born in 1986; and we first found him with his Mum, ED, which stands for “Enigmatic Dolphin,” a name bestowed because we would see ED all over the place. ED was among a handful of females that have very large ranges, so young Ceebie had quite a lively social life as an infant, meeting his mother’s acquaintances (and their infants) throughout her range.

He has always been a bit of a scamp, in the middle of rowdy social groups and causing trouble. As an adolescent male Ceebie was seen with a lot of other young males that would later become members of different second-order alliances, including the Kroker Spaniels, the Prima Donnas and the Rascals. Who would Ceebie end up with? By 2001 Ceebie solidified his membership in the Kroker Spaniels, which was our second group (after the Wow Crowd in the 1990s) to achieve a size of 14 members. The Krokers always formed trios to consort females and Ceebie was a total flirt, consorting with nine other members!

In the early years he was most often in trios with Midgie and Quasi but they dumped him to become a stable trio with Pong. So Ceebie “played the field” and as the Krokers shrunk to a group of ten in the next decade, he was often with Deet and Moggy. Now the Krokers are down to two trios and Ceebie has worked his way back into a trio with Pasta and Pong (whose buddies Midgie and Quasi are no more). Ceebie is still a trouble-maker, and so of course a researcher favorite!  Known as the ‘pop’ star of the Krokers you can reliably hear him produce the pop vocalization in air when he is consorting a female. 

You can watch Ceebie in 2001 getting into a head-to-head “tiff” and fight with Pasta before being set upon by members of 3 second-order alliances—including his own-- for some dolphin faux pas he apparently committed (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4P9ShajPgY&t=2112s), then watch Ceebie threatening a consorted female with “pops” and chasing her around in 2016 (see the first part of the video “an incredible morning on Stephanie King’s communication project” on this page). In the Dolphin Decade Ceebie will be moving into his mid to late 30s; will he settle down and become a more sedate older male? Possibly, but we doubt it!

Shark Bay, Western Australia

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Located in the Gascoyne region of Western Australia  and declared a World Heritage Site in 1991, Shark Bay is arguably best place in the world to learn about dolphin intelligence in the wild.  What makes Shark Bay so exceptional?  It begins with the largest seagrass beds in the world. The seagrass beds are the foundation for everything; they support the incredible abundance of life, including fish, sea turtles, dugongs and, of course, dolphins! The large number of dolphins in Shark Bay is why we so see much incredible social behavior and why the dolphin politics are more complex than in any other known population. The more dolphins there are in an area, they more they interact and the more they interact the more complex their society will be. 

Spread over a 2,200,902-hectare (5,438,550-acre) area, approximately 800 kilometres (500 mi) north of Perth, on the westernmost point of the Australian continent - The ecology of Shark Bay, includes temperate and tropical species of plants and animals, varies from location to location.  This variation in local ecology, we have discovered, leads to variation in dolphin feeding innovations and politics!  

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UNESCO's official listing of Shark Bay as a World Heritage Site reads:  "Shark Bay’s waters, islands and peninsulas....have a number of exceptional natural features, including one of the largest and most diverse seagrass beds in the world. However it is for its stromatolites (colonies of microbial mats that form hard, dome-shaped deposits which are said to be the oldest life forms on earth), that the property is most renowned. The property is also famous for its rich marine life including a large population of dugongs, and provides a refuge for a number of other globally threatened species..."