Much rubbing, contact and whistling among the dolphins. Our Wednesday beach trip/picnic was cancelled due to wind, some rain and rough seas (a Beaufort 5!). So, we spent the early AM (Kathleen was in the water by
7AM) observing the dolphins at Bailey's Key. The dolphins were very active with much whistling and social rubbing. Nothing out of the ordinary but
Esteban and Rita both examined Alita's belly.
We reviewed the last 2 days of video with help from some of our volunteer researchers (Team #2).
Beasley and GeeGee fought, then reconciled. We recorded behavior and sounds for a bit more than 60 minutes. The dolphins were vocalizing, especially whistling, almost non-stop. Alita, the pregnant
female, looked very large, like a guppy. She should have her calf within the next month. Beasley and GeeGee seemed mildly annoyed with each other. GeeGee
was whistling with bubbles constantly. Mika, GeeGee's calf, has remained in a side pen for the last 2 days. Mika went in and has refused to come out. We don't know why.
The clouds did not dim enthusiasm. For most of our group, this was their first time ever to touch a dolphin. The agreed-upon description of dolphin skin from the team is 'like a hard-boiled
egg' (with teeth and a playful attitude). The dolphins enjoyed diving to the bottom with Nancy and Bill while they pulled eel grass toys or swam upside
down. John was curious about how the dolphins stop so quickly ater a speed swim.
Observing dolphins above and below the surface Sunday is spent with a morning introduction to the 16 dolphins at Bailey's Key. We share marks and scars seen from above the surface so our team will become familiar with the dolphins. Because the underwater visibility is not great (due to rain), we took the
snorkel boat out to the reef for everyone to try out the MVA3. We also checked out the fish.
The afternoon for half of the team was spent at RIMS reviewing the hydrophone and recorder, and the data forms.
The worst visibility of our season The day was slow and overcast. We gathered a half hour of data but Robin could barely see the dolphins as the underwater visibility was ~3 m. The light was low due to the layers of clouds. The surface visibility was glare-ful and hampered accurate counts on dolphins within 5 m of Robin.
The behavior that Robin recorded was social with agitation among the males.
Add some thunder and lightning for excitement Robin was going to operate/propel the array today with Kathleen on the tower, staying dry. HAH! We had about 15 min of observation before the trainers and visitors arrived bringing the downpour with them. It's rained non-stop for ~4 hours now. We thought it best not to be either on the tower or in the water with the accompanying thunder and lightning. Not to mention the icky visibility and low light.
So, we reviewed data, summaries and a novel of two.
No underwater observations today. Dolphins are very tactile, seemingly almost always in physical contact with schoolmates. One of the topics we are studying is how dolphins use their pectoral fins (flippers) to exchange touches and rubs. Because the RIMS dolphins are in human care, they potentially receive more contact. Their trainers definitely touch them. We are interested in knowing if the observed dolphin/dolphin contact was less here, could trainer/dolphin contact be a factor?
Not so much. These dolphins are just as touchy as the ones in the Bahamas and Japan, at least from preliminary review of our data.
Great Stuff! clicks and more Our third ECD testing, gathering details on the directivity of dolphin clicks, had us asking dolphins to remain stationary approximately 15-20 feet (5-6 m) from Kathleen and the MVA3. And, then echolocate and head scan at the MVA3. Most did this in their own unique way. Maury was touching her mom, Gracie, as she checked out the MVA3. Cedena did a head (rostrum) stand and clicked with one head scan on her way up for air.
Hurray, after about 4 mo of little rain. There were two birds outside our cabin fluffing and vocalizing with delight as the rain fell. Likely their first bath in some time. They were happy (or seemed so to us).
Afternoon saw us with more ECD testing. Today, Eldon was in the water to Kathleen's right, then left. We asked Paya and Esteban, alternately, to approach Kathleen then veer to Eldon. Why? We wanted to record the dolphin echolocation and click side bands to examine these aspects of their sounds.
Our first trial requesting dolphin attention We've been recording dolphin echolocation for several years and have greatly increased our data from here at RIMS. But, we did not have a good example of dolphin echolocation from specific distances, from changing (decreasing) distance, or from the side 'view'. Our ECD testing provided some of this detail today. (more tomorrow)
For about 30 min, we asked Paya and Esteban to swim at Kathleen and the MVA3. At first, they thought this was a new game and speed swam by Kathleen.