Saturday morning’s class discussion on was on DCP’s video/acoustic system, the MVA. We’d seen Kel with it on the boat, but today we headed to the beach and each of us got a chance to “use” the MVA. On the beach, it was very heavy – and it is wide! It was less intimidating in the water, but challenging. We protected the hydrophones while the other class members pretended to be dolphins (there was even some “pec rubbing” observed!). After a short “free swim” at the beach, it was time for photo-ID. From the photos, we confirmed sightings of un-named #78 and 89 and Leslie (#80). We also confirmed that Leslie (#80) is female and #78 is male. There are still photos from that trip that we will need to review later in the week.
The dolphin survey began with a snorkel stop at the “Bimini Road” (aka Atlantis). The group consensus is that the rock formation is natural and we were all a bit more interested in the fish than the rocks! We saw more barracudas and possibly school master and yellowtail snapper. The boat trip was the choppiest we’d experienced so far, but there were 5 dolphin sightings. We collected some surface video and got a chance to see both species, the spotted and bottlenose dolphins, although they did not appear to interact. From the boat, we saw several aerial displays and lots of bowriding. We had one underwater encounter and although they did not stick around very long, we saw 9 individuals. We followed the safety recommendations of our captain and kept the group sizes small while in the water. We also needed to take extra care getting back on the boat today.
We were back to the dock close to 20:00. After dinner, we watched the first half of the film, “Why do dogs smile and chimpanzees cry?” This allowed our conversations on animal behavior to expand beyond just dolphins and presented the challenges of measuring emotion in non-human animals.
The SHU Crew