Close Encounters of the Dolphin Kind!

Our day began with very high winds and a seemingly strong underwater current. Our surface observations went much smoother this morning – practice makes perfect! The strong current was confirmed by Kathleen once she began underwater observations. The dolphin activity at the surface was very quiet – very little activity. That said, we were surprised that the gates between pools were partially open. We learned the facility did this to avoid a buildup of sargassum seaweed in the different pools.
After a hearty breakfast, we did our dolphin encounter with Alita and her trainer Brooke. After our meet-and-greet encounter, we had a 30-minute swim with the dolphins. Poli, Elli, Callie, and Tank all played with us with seaweed, sea grass, and various swift swim patterns. There was still a bit of current in the pool that we all experienced and the dolphins, overall, were relatively lowkey. They were not overly playful but did swim around to check us all out.
Just before lunch, Dr. R and Kathleen subjected us to a pop dolphin-ID quiz! Only 4 of us were able to correctly identify at least 10 the 19 dolphins in the photographs presented to us. Even though we spent about 3.5 hrs this week practicing and reviewing dolphin IDs, we were reminded by this quiz that it is not easy to recognize dolphins in the short-term. (We are glad they can recognize each other!)
After lunch, we spent a bit of time reviewing video with BORIS … a software program that facilitates behavioral analyses from video and streamlines the data collection process. After this session, we were given a few hours of free-time! (woohoo!) (Side note: Kathleen saw half the class sitting on lounge chairs on the small beach on Anthony’s Key with their laptops … not the typical beach sunbathing photo one would expect!)
We had a scrumptious last supper and are just now finishing our final blog for the week. Of course, Kathleen informed us we will have one more data collection session at 6:15 tomorrow morning!
Until then,
The URI Rams!