What is a “typical” day like?

I am glad the quotes were added to the word typical in this question. It’s true there is no typical day for me. My day depends on whether I am in the field gathering data or in my office analyzing data. And, for the former, my day also depends on whether I am in The Bahamas, on Roatan or Nassau or in Germany gathering data. If I am assisting with data collection from Bimini, I join Kel and the trips of guests to swim with dolphins whenever there is space on the boat. We spend about four hours per boat trip looking for and observing dolphins. It takes about 30 minutes minimum to prep my gear for the trip and about an hour to clean my gear and myself after a trip. Then, we log data sheets from the trip. When we are not on the boat, we analyze data — videotapes for dolphin IDs and behaviors. When I was doing my dissertation in The Bahamas, we lived on the boat. So my days ran from sunrise till about midnight. I have always liked mornings because most folks are not awake yet. When on the boat, it’s quiet and I prep the data sheets and gear for the day. When we see dolphins during a boat trip, we (researchers and eco-tourists) record data and sometimes swim with them and record their behavior underwater. After each swim we log data on data forms … all of our observations and any dolphin IDs. The evenings are filled with informal presentations about dolphins, their lives and distribution and other information about ocean conservation.

At the field sites where I study captive dolphins, I coordinate my observation schedule around the staff’s schedule for training. At RIMS, I’ll conduct my first observation session before 8AM and then another one later in the morning. At DE, my observation sessions are between training programs, and this is the same at Zoo Duisburg. Because we know where the dolphins are at these three locations, my return on effort is much higher than in The Bahamas, or at Mikura Island, Japan.

In my office, when out of the field and analyzing data, I work mostly with my computer, the video and stereo audio data, and the video logs. Every video tape is logged such that we know who is in view, who they are with and for how long. Once the log is complete, I watch the videotapes and log dolphin behaviors on data forms and into the computer. Volunteers and interns are exceptionally helpful with this part of the data processing – i.e., creating the video logs and event-sampling the behavior and audio. For the audio data, I measure sounds using special software programs to examine spectrograms. I also write reports and grant applications. I also take walks with Dixie, our beagle, when she decides I need a break!