12 January 2018

Not a Cloud in the Sky!

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night snorkel night snorkel H. Hill for DCP

We were greeted by the sun this morning on our way to data observations. Our notebooks stayed dry during observations and we had to apply and reapply sunscreen, though we are not complaining. The surface observations were much less – the animals seemed to be less active at the surface and more interactive underwater. Some of the dolphins were a bit playful with seaweed to us. Kathleen was able to get a longer session as the dolphins were social and the underwater visibility was good. The calf kept getting corralled by other dolphins who seemed to want him around.
We also started our own research project and confirmed our methods. We had 5 sessions in the morning: 3 with Bill and 2 with Ritchie. We had 6 sessions in the afternoon (3 each with Bill and Ritchie). The afternoon underwater visibility decreased significantly … and it was also harder to see Bill or Ritchie because of the glare off the water surface.
After our delicious lunch, Teri B. gave us a really cool lecture about Dolphin Training. Her enthusiasm was contagious. We learned the importance of eye contact and timing when training, and that not everyone can be a trainer. We learned about operant conditioning versus classical conditioning. We learned about the relationships that can be and should be built with the dolphins. And, that if you work with them for a long time, you can read their behavior.
Jennifer spoke to us about Nighttime Adaptations on the Reef – before we did our first night snorkel. We learned that some fish change colors at night as compared to during the day. The best part was we could use what we learned right away during our night snorkel. We started the snorkel from a floating platform behind the dolphin area at Bailey’s Cay. We saw an eel, baby squid, an octopus, squirrel fish, blue tang, puffer fish, and parrot fish (lying on the sand for the night!). It was a little scary at first snorkeling at night but it was also super cool because of all the life we saw. The coral polyps were neat because they made the coral seem more alive as opposed to a rock-like item. We saw a brittle star and nudibranchs and crabs, too. On our way back from Bailey’s Cay on the taxi boat, Macy saw a shooting star in the bright and clear sky.
Dinner was after our snorkel and included a tasty tomato/basil soup.
Until tomorrow,
Lauren (#1), Kenna, Caitlyn, Lauren (#2), Casey, Julia, Serena, Delaney, Cailey, Macy (like the store), and Chandra (the CSU crew) with supporting roles from Shane, Kathleen, Heather, Dee, & Maria

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