Our trip brought us four hours of data on the dolphins. The DRTs helped us collect these data in eight sessions. We also spent much time in the water snorkeling and learning about the fish and coral of the area. You could say we were water-logged! But, we also had a great time and learned much.More photos and other details will soon be posted to the DCP education page …
The morning began with dolphins and our afternoon was spent swining through the canopy, hanging out with white-faced capucin monkeys and taking one last swim before packing bags. We took a bus to the Gumba Limba botanical gardens … well, sort of. We took the bus to the top of the mountain near the park and then zip-lined our way down to the park. There were 13 stations and we had a blast! All of us did the line and some of us went much faster than others (Mr. Williams!).
The morning observation sessions are filled with social behavior and much rubbing and curiosity behavior by the dolphins. However, this morning began slightly differently: the pool seemed very quiet when I slipped into the water. Almost too quiet. After about 90 seconds, I was startled by Hector who was just suddenly at my left side and in my space. He seemed to have a glint in his eye as he kept pace and then moved slowly to my right and out of view.
Ronnie, French and Bill were all over each other and Ritchie and Ken were swimming together too. Lots of rubbing and squawking and clicks and whistles all morning; the data will be fun (and take much time) to analyze from this morning. They seemed to be playing and roughhousing with each other. Sometimes I got a bit close, and others I swam hard just to keep them in view.
The afternoon was spent with Teri, Head Trainer, learning the details of training – operant conditioning, positive reinforcement, rewards and more.
Our dolphin swim/encounter (each 30 min long) began at 9 AM and were followed by a data collection session. DRT impressions on their swim:
Catharine – the dolphins did not really play with us until we swam to them.
Katie – cool! With they’d have swum more close, but the dolphins were still close …
Ethan – it was fun.
We had two data collection sessions today and the DRTs were right on with logging data. They also got to play a bit with the dolphins when they interacted by butting the kids’ feet with their rostrums. Dolphins can be VERY tempting.
I recorded much activity from the dolphins during both sessions – lots of whistles and staccato noises with and without bubble streams. There were several pec fin exchanges and lots of body rubbing. I am fairly confident that I recognize Mika, Ronnie, Bill, Ken, all the adult females, Margarita, Dixon, Hector, Ritchie, Fiona, Bailey and Paya.
As I explained the data forms, I was greeted with the same confused looks I always get on the first session for data collection with our RIMS eco-tourists. But, our DRT team quickly learned the protocol while collecting data along the rickety dock walkway. They were hardly distracted by the dolphins trying to shift their attention! There are 19 dolphins in this group at RIMS. The dolphins are: females – Mrs. B, Gracie, Alita, Cedana, Carmella, Mika, Maury, Fiona, Bailey and Margarita; males – Paya, Hector, Ritchie, Ken, Mr. French, Anthony, Bill, Ronnie, Dixon.
The resort has changed little, and our enthusiasm was matched by the staff who greeted us. We lucked out with our rooms – we have rooms right on the dock! So, we get a front row seat to the setting sun each night. The ‘porch’ is common for all of our rooms and is a double-decker design. So, our DRT team has been practicing their synchronous jumps from the first level.
Well, we will all meet at the airport at 4 am to check in and begin our trip to Roatan. This will be an exciting trip with the DRT team. Each student has focused on one dolphin. Also, they each have a question on the environment, animals or ecology that will be the topic of discussion one evening.As for those tape cassettes that I mentioned – two stores no longer carry blank ones. I guess everyone has gone digital. Our next report will be from Roatan tomorrow night.
Our team is ready, but I am not, yet. I will be picking up last minute supplies (batteries, subblock) tomorrow and then finalizing my packing. Currently, all gear is strewn over the floor of part of my basement as I review my list and check it twice. We will make every attempt to post regular updates while at RIMS at Anthony's Key Resort.