Hector was in a bad mood this morning The underwater visibility was great, even considering a night of rain. The group was very social: there was much rubbing, speed swims, and chasing going on by the younger dolphins. For the first 10 minutes, Ronnie, Mika, and Maury seemed to delight, yet again, in pushing on my arms, the array, and my fins. Hardly the lack of interest I was hoping for, though soon they returned their atention to the other dolphins.
It seemed that Mika and Hector were at odds, and he repeatedly jaw clapped at her.
At about 8:00 am, we saw a group of maybe 20 dolphins swim by We could not ID the species, but watched for about 5 minutes as wild dolphins passed by our cabin heading east.
Our am session – 30 minutes between 10:30 and 11:00 am- was plagued by a downpour! I was already wet from swimming, and Kristy got soaked too! The rain was loud underwater, but the visibility was clear and better than 15 meters. And, the dolphins were social and very vocal.
The dolphins were mostly in 1 or 2 groups.
Socializing and play with object was today's game I was in the water for 2 half-hour sessions: before noon and after noon. The group was very vocal (mostly whistles, buzzes, and clicks) in the morning, but relatively quiet during the second session. I saw Mrs. Beasly and Mr. French with Alita and Fiona swimming together during both sessions.
It was sometimes difficult to focus on the adults for any length of time because the 'kids' were very curious and rambunctious. Ronnie seemed to think I'd become his personal toy.
Kristy arrived to help with data collection – Hurray!!! Kristy worked with me 4 years ago as an intern, and was available to help with data collection this week. She arrived late last night, and I briefed her this morning. Our first session to observe and record the dolphins as a team went well.
The other parts of today included data entry and reviewing a freezer that gets 'really' cold (-80 degrees C) for storage of plasma samples from the dolphins.
Data Review-Summary of Week #1 We gathered 3 hours of MVA4 data and began the video log analysis of tape 1. We were witness to a health check on Rita and general checks on other dolphins. Besides behavioral data, we began the physiology data collection. This was a successful week. Team #1 was very helpful and I enjoyed sharing details and subtileties of my work with them.
Morning data collection, Afternoon Canopy Ride The 30 min. morning session was okay-lots of noise from the dolphins. Unfortunately, when changing the camera battery, I forgot that default was autofocus. Normally, I use manual with infinity set. Thus, today, with 'icky' visibility, it was tough to see and ID the dolphins. I will not make that mistake again. We also drew blood from Bill today to begin our baseline data on physiologyh data. Eventually (ie next year), we'll gather physiology & behavioral data concurrently. Today, it began.
The visibility underwater just keeps getting better Each week, our research team is signed up for 2 swims and 2 encounters with the RIMS dolphins. During these activities, our research volunteers get to touch a dolphin and swim among them. It's an up close and personal interaction. At other, scheduled times during the week, these volunteers help us gather data on the dolphins: they document surface behaviors and use an omni-directional hydrohphone to record sounds during scan samples. the morning data collection was 30 minutes long. Mostly I saw the younger dolphins.
A morning session with non-curious dolphins We extended the observation sessin to one hour for today. It was long and hot-for the surface observers. The current was less (Thank goodness!) Our volunteer team had their swim and encounter with the dolphins today. The smiling faces said it all. Everyone was beaming for the rest of the day. Ronnie was the most playful, but almost all the dolphins checked out the swimmers. Data entry and the afternoon went well and the evening finished off with a fiesta night celebration. A good day.
Resuned data collection in the afternoon The day began beautifull but with not good underwater visibility. Luckily the strong curretn cleared the silt away for an afternoon session of data collection. I don't remember ever fighting such a strong current ( at least~ knots). Still, it was worth it. Mrs Beasly brought her 1 mo old calf by for a quick look. I was also able to observe Cedena and Gracie and some of the younger dolphins (Mika, Maury, Fiona, Bill). Paya was very interested in Alita and even crowded me a few times.
Preparing to Travel South My trip begins on Saturday 11 September when I head to Roatan, Honduras to begin our second field season studying the bottlenose dolphins at the Roatan Institute of Marine Sciences, housed at Anthony's Key Resort on Roatan in Honduras.
We will have two groups of ecotourists assisting with our data collection this fall and will spend 3 weeks total gathering data and observing dolphin behavior and sounds.