The last session was not in the cards – even though the day presented no wind and clear visibility to the bottom from above the water! Our departure for the airport was in the morning.
This was a very successful trip with 7 hours of MVA data collected. There are 24 dolphins – 13 males and 11 females ranging in age from 1 to 30+ years. Carmella, Gracie and Mika are pregnant and due sometime in the summer.
Friday began with overcast skies but spectacular underwater visibility, again. The divers on our team (Bill, Ron, Madison & John) took the early trip to Mary’s Place for a morning of diving. Lisa helped me with data collection in the morning. I was able to collect 40 min of observations before Ronnie’s interest in my fins and Marg’s interest in my arms and shoulders meant it was time to get out.
The mantra for this morning’s session in the observation notes related to the indecipherable mumbling I made through my snorkel. The session was lively and the weather the best of the week with spectacular underwater visibility! But, it was also characterized by Hector’s intensive interest in my fins! He would not leave them alone. I found myself inadvertently telling him to stop through my snorkel. Dolphins, like humans, seem unable to translate snorkel mumbles because he never did lose interest in my fins. I focused on other dolphins and their socializing – much buzzing, whistles, and social activity.
Our evening was punctuated by rain squalls that did not really lessen in number or scope until about 7 AM. So, we did not have a data collection session at 6:30 AM but rather waited until mid-morning to catch a few sessions with dolphins in the back area pools while programs were ongoing in the lagoon. I was able to record 8 minutes with Han and Hector and get some really clear views of their sides.
Today, my fingers and toes were wrinkled after much time in the water! The morning session was 30 min long but with EXCEPTIONALLY good underwater visibility! It was 5-6 m but very clear. And, there were dolphins greeting me as I entered the water. In fact, they almost barred my entry because they were so close. French loved my fins today and spent ~20 min with one or both fin tips in his mouth! Even after I put my feet in the air, he was back to my fins as soon as they were back into the water.
We had a great Monday with two data collection sessions and several dives for our team! The morning session brought much better underwater visibility with me entering the water at about 6:45 AM. The dolphins were very vocal and very social. Ken and Anthony thought my fins were the best toy in the world! They mouthed my fins and poked at my feet. Not something I encouraged but I did my best to ignore them.
The second session had slightly less visibility under water but no less social activity.
Our day began EARLY (5 AM) but because it was warm and light, it was ok! The sun makes its daily appearance at about 4:45 AM. Ron, Bill, John and I all sat on the porch and chatted over a strong morning coffee. We also showed each other our new camera toys (ok, mine is still the MVA, but they had new toys).
Our team had a dolphin encounter/swim at 9 AM and got to know Bailey, a 5.5 yr old female. Cedena is Bailey’s and Pigeon’s mom.
Our day began at 01:30 (AM), with a drive to the airport followed by a wait for TSA to open and then check in. Luckily, we slept on the plane. We had a stop in Houston and then a direct flight to Roatan. The flight to Roatan was shorter and we were excited to get to the island. Both flights were full! We cleared immigration and customs and got our bags to the fellow we thought was from Anthony’s Key Resort. Turns out he was just an airport representative.
Well, not all of DCP is returning to Roatan in 2 days, but I will be traveling to the island and visiting RIMS and AKR to continue DCP’s studies of the group of bottlelnose dolphins that call Bailey’s Key home. If you remember from the fall field reports, our planned trip to Roatan in September 2010 was postponed because of Hurricane Matthew! The resort and most of the island was closed because of the weather and DCP had to reschedule our eco-tour for that last week of September.