Observing the dolphins underwater and recording their behavior onto video cards or tapes equates to also being required to recognize each dolphin by her/his scars and marks. For the most part, here at RIMS/AKR, we can use the rake marks that are caused by other dolphin teeth during play or aggression. These rake marks are parallel white lines. They heal pretty quickly, but will remain for the week of data collection.
Coordinating with the trainers to confirm each dolphin’s marks is key to being able to readily recognize the dolphins. Our team spent time yesterday and today photographing each dolphin from the left, right, top and bottom (aka, ventrally) to log their marks photographically. This will help immensely when we log the videotapes after this week.
I was also able to collect about an hour of data across two in-water sessions: one at 6:40 AM and one at ~10:30 AM. The visibility was better in the early hours but the light was better in the second session. Of course, the young dolphins still took turns using me as a play toy. Polly dropped a mouthful of seaweed between my face and the MVA2!
We have two more days to collect data for the season. So far I’ve been able to observe the young male social interactions several times and also the affiliative rubbing activity between all the dolphins. I’m looking forward to the next several sessions, as is my team. They’ve all be game at the 6:30 mark!
Kathleen & the DCP RIMS 2015 team