The morning began bright and sunny and our observations began with a light breeze. About 5-7 minutes after Kathleen entered the water to observe the dolphins, the skies opened and it rained on us. (We learned what it was to be true field researchers … collecting data under all types of weather!) The dolphins seemed to be very slow this morning and they did not immediately greet Kathleen when she entered. And, the dolphins seemed to greet the students on Platform 2 more than any other students this morning. We’re not sure if this observation is correlated but when the rain got heavier, the dolphins seemed to be more socially active at the surface. More data are required to be conclusive.
Breakfast followed data collection and it was welcome! And yummy! After breakfast, we went to the RIMS classroom for a lecture on Physiology from Shane. After a scintillating talk on exercise physiology, we were provided details of our project selection options. 1) a research project that uses a behavior as an indicator of a physiological measure. OR 2) develop a PSA message that presents a topic we have learned here during our course for the folks back home. We are mildly stressed trying to decide which of these two invigorating topics to select! We then learned a bit more about identifying the dolphins here at RIMS – their individual markings and how to recognize them more easily.
Lunch was greeted with enthusiasm after such a mentally taxing morning! Lunch was REALLY, REALLY good. And, after lunch we returned to the classroom for a lecture on coral reefs.
It was fortuitous to have our coral reef lecture before we geared up and hopped on the snorkel boat for our first boat snorkel session. For some of us, this was our first boat snorkel ever! It was a bit clumsy getting into the water – trying to make sure our masks did not fall off and getting oriented in the water. Half the group got separated after entry. Thanks to Shane having a long skinny faded red buoy we were always sure of the direction we should head. Of course, we still got a bit off course and swam almost over the reef. We saw some really cool fish and coral. There was a huge school of blue tang. A billowing lionfish with 15 CSU students congregated above it! A sea robin and several squirrel fish, angel fish, trunk fish and snapper were hovering over the reef and the sand floor. And, best of all, no one got stung by sea lice or jellies today! (Hurray!) You can see us all in the blog photo for today after our snorkel trip with the CSU Study Abroad flag!
We went right into a baseline space use data collection session after snorkeling … it was eye-opening to collect data at the end of the day and not only at the start of a day! It was cool to observe the dolphins with no one around or in the water … even Kathleen.
Our Happy New Year dinner was a visually stunning buffet that was even more yummy than the vision would suggest. And, there was a Happy New year cake! Hard to believe that in just a few hours it will be 2020! Happy New Year to everyone!
Rams in Roatan & Kathleen