DCP 2002 Field Season at Mikura Island, Japan

Summary of Effort and Data Collected. From 37 days in the field, we had 18 boat trips, with video recorded on each trip. (9 extra trips included Robin & Joana). Each trip is 2 hours long which gave us 36 hours, 21 minutes of effort and 374 minutes of video. Our 'return on effort' was 17.15% – almost double that of previous years! We also gathered 391 minutes of audio data with the click detector.

Rain cancels Iruka Festival.

Research summaries and talks make up the day. I spent today getting caught up on writing a few summaries and other bits of information regarding my time on Mikura this year. Also, because Kazumi is a talented interpreter and willing to help us, I was able to communicte more easily with some of the other researchers today. That is, we talked about the workshop and its affects. We also talked about some research ideas and various future possibilities.

The afternoon was a bit relaxing with another visit from the three boys from yesterday.

The kindergarten.

Sharing dolphin (and shark stories), and … The morning was spent at the kindergarten first teaching them a bit about the dolphins around Mikura and the spotted dolphins in the Bahamas. I showed the 8 kids a short video and some photos and posters. We chatted a bit and I did my best to answer their questions. Then, we played. It was raining (of course) so we ran around in the gym next door. Chase and tag began our foray and then we kicked around some soccer balls … a nod to the World Cup.

Last Day for Field Work

Watching dolphins from the shore The old pier took about ~30 years to fully complete and was built about 40-50 years ago. The new pier was completed last year and took about 5 years to build. The new pier provides a more protected area for the fishing boats, and this is now where we meet the boats to go out looking for dolphins.

Today was sunny and warm. Hot actually and a bit humid. But it felt good to dry out after several days of rain.

You guessed it … rain.

Fog, wind … and more. My front door opens to a view of the sea. It is spectacular. I feel very fortunate to be able to greet each day with a view of the ever-changing ocean surface. Today, the changes seemed to occur every half hour, and all changes contained some level of bad weather. The wind did not stop blowing today, only changed directions. The sea was awash in white. Spray from the tops of waves was blowing like a sheet across the water.

The rainy season is definitely here!

Or, maybe it should be called the cloudy season. Kogi, Hasegawa and Masaki went out today but it was for a transect survey, that is, no underwater observations. A transect is run at a steady speed in one direction (chosen randomly) around the island. When dolphins are seen, various data points are documented: location, time, group size, group activity. If any id's can be made, they are noted. Enough time to assess group size is given and then the transect resumes. Hasegawa is studying which dolphins are seen where and when around Mikura.

Rain and wind.

A day for deskwork, and a bit of a break. Today was a slow day. It was gray and rainy. I worked a bit on my computer – entering the ID's already confirmed from videotapes and writing a bit. I also visited with some of the other researchers on the island. Basically, it was a day to rest a bit, just like the dolphins yesterday. I hope to have a boat trip tomorrow and will update you again then.

A dramatic sky and sea in shades of silver and charcoal.

The day did not dawn but did arrive with flair. The morning trip yielded dolphins that were resting or traveling, visbility worse than pea soup, and only about 7 minutes of video. Still, it was nice to be on the water. Our morning trip was delayed about 30 minutes because of a rain shower that dropped about 500 mm of rain in 15 minutes. The roads became rivers – literally! This rain shower is likely the cause of the poor visibility around the island … dirt run-off from the mountain.

More video, more dolphin smiles.

Good and bad visibility, strong and weak current. Several boats were on the water today with visitors wishing to see dolphins up close and personal. The visibility was better than yesterday on average but still silty and murky near the surge zone … about 2-3 meters out from the place the waves were breaking. Our first group was similar in membership to the group of dolphins we saw at Nango yesterday. Maekake and a couple other adult females. They were quiet and slow moving today. It seemed that our first group of dolphins were mostly resting.

Rainy, Overcast Day

Poor Visibility, rough seas. But, we saw dolphins. More data! And, we saw three of the new calves of the season … three moms with their new calves among a group of mostly adult females and juveniles. Neat to see them, though they were in and out of our view due to the less than 3 m visibility. The sea was still a bit turbulent from the storm that passed and there was a distinct line indicating where the rain water had washed dirt and debris into the ocean. Brown then blue-black in color.