Day 4 – Nighttime Adventures

Our morning began as usual with data collection for DCP and Dr. D. The dolphins were especially active this morning! Paige got splashed by one of the dolphins while doing observations. We had a lively breakfast that included a birthday song for Kassandra (and Dr H. sent happy birthday wishes to Katie, her daughter!). The AKR team had a nice coconut cream pie with Happy Birthday written on the plate!
We had a very enticing cognitive lecture this morning. We learned the parallels between dolphin and human intelligence. After the lecture, the group split up to collect data on two different student projects. Paloma, Jesus, Alex C., Ashley, Mike, and Emily stayed with Dr. D to learn about video logging and ID’ing dolphins while the rest of the crew went to collect data on biodiversity assessment in sea grass.
We regrouped at lunch and shared what we learned among ourselves. Then, early afternoon had us shifting groups with Grant, Gonzolo, Kim, Sam, Kassandra, Alex P, Sole, and Paige learning about dolphin IDs and video logs and data analyses while the others went over to Baileys Key to observe dolphins before, during and after encounters.
We had a few hours off before our first ever night snorkel. We saw an aqua-blue octopus, sea stars and an eel, as well as a lobster, a puffer fish and squirrelfish. Ashley saw a tiger grouper. Some felt it was a tad scary snorkeling at night and we were all grouped together. Paige looked at what was visible in her light rather than look out into the black abyss. The night snorkel also had lots of rain – heavy but brief.
Dinner was punctuated by lots of laughter, which was fostered because we do not use our phones but rather have lively conversations! Until tomorrow …
St. Mary’s Snorkelin’ Snakes