The sight of a baby dolphin swimmingalongside mother Ginger in Sarasota Bay generated warm excitement at Mote Marine Laboratory this summer. Less than a decade ago, Ginger barely survived a case of bronchopneumonia, but scientists now feel optimistic as she swims the waters alongside a nursing calf. Researchers first spotted the newest member of this aquatic family in early July, but then got more exciting news the next time they saw the mama-child team. Nellie, another dolphin under observation, swam around the same area and came with offspring of her own. Days later, Dr. Randall S. Wells heard a computer chime as he conducted an interview with SRQ magazine, informing him that his team had spotted two new baby dolphins swimming in the shore, the 18th and 19th calves born in Sarasota Bay in 2017. “That’s a record,” he says, as the tally denotes the biggest baby boom in Sarasota Bay since scientists started tracking births 47 years ago. Conducted at Mote and run by the Chicago Zoological Society, the program in Sarasota launched in 1970 and has become the longest running study of a wild dolphin population anywhere in the world. Wells, who helped launch the program and now directs it, says its been exciting to see these new calves swimming alongside Nicklo, the oldest bottlenose dolphin on record. To see Ginger expand the herd provides a special thrill. A dolphin born in the Bay in 2008, she nearly died in 2008 when she was rescued with teeth marks all over her and a life-threatening illness. She recovered only thanks to the care of scientists at Mote. She did have another calf several years ago, but it disappeared; Wells notes first calves have a low survival rate among dolphins, likely because of the lifetime of pollutants released in mother’s milk. Scientists feel quite optimistic about the future for this calf, though, and expect it to nurse safely for two to three years and swim on its own after three to six years.