DCP’s RIMS Summary – January 2019

I spent a VERY productive three weeks on Roatan at Anthony’s Key Resort (AKR) collecting data on the dolphins at the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences (RIMS). I was joined by two student groups – one (14 students) from Colorado State University (CSU) and one (11 students) from the University of Rhode Island (URI). Thank you to Dr. K (CSU) and Dr. R (URI) for continuing to collaborate with me and DCP and co-teaching students on topics focused on animal behavior and physiology. (Thank you also to Ron B. and his family for participating in some of DCP’s first week programs on this field session!) During my third week in the field this month, I was joined by Heather, Dee and John. We crammed as much research and data collection into 7 days as seemed humanly possible!
Here are the numbers:
I had 22 data collection and observation sessions that yielded 22 hrs of video data (11 hrs each on my GoPro3 and the MVA2 system). Logging the videos (for dolphin IDs and duration on screen) will keep me (and student interns and volunteers) busy for several months!
With CSU and URI student assistance, we began collecting data on how the dolphins at RIMS use the area of their habitat. We collected instantaneous scan samples of where dolphins were (visible at the surface) in their enclosure and also what their activity level was during each scan. Comments and suggestions from students in both groups allowed Heather, Dee and me to revise the data sheets and collect more than two dozen scans to form a pilot data set.
With Teri, Dee, and Heather, we continued collecting data to better understand how creative dolphins are; Dee collected video data adjacent to Teri when she queried dolphins. Heather documented the session trials and details and I was the in-water person effectively treading water and filming both underwater and surface views from the dolphin perspective during each session. We were able to conduct four sessions each with 11 dolphins. Again, we will be analyzing data for a few months to get an idea of just how creative bottlenose dolphins at RIMS are …
We could not have had such a productive field session without assistance from the RIMS training staff and AKR team members who variously shuttled us back and forth between Bailey’s Key and Anthony’s Key – THANK YOU! And, thank you for all folks from AKR, RIMS, DCP, CSU and URI for facilitating a really great data collection session. I could think of no better way to launch 2019 than with a productive field session punctuated by great weather, awesome underwater visibility, eager students, and playful dolphins!
Happy 2019!!