Kathleen Dudzinski

Kathleen Dudzinski

TGIF – Sharks trump Dolphins … for some of us!
23 October 2021

TGIF – Sharks trump Dolphins … for some of us!

While I, John, Dave, Chris, and Louise went to Bailey’s Key for our last data observation session this morning, Ron, Don, Jill & Bill went in search of sharks! They did a morning dive looking for sharks (and found some) with a second, follow up dive cleaning the coral tree PVC mounts as a contribution to coral restoration this morning.

See as Jill meets one of the sharks on the reef just below.

The dolphin observation session went very well! Champ had Rocky and Lenca had Buzz for most of the session … though Maury and Alita were keeping an eye on their antics. Poli sparred a bit with Stan and Sandy and Tilly seemed content to play between themselves with occasional forays around me. There was lots of seagrass and seaweed so there were lots of games played too. And, at one point, everyone seemed to be whistling with bubbles!

We had a great last day here at AKR for our DCP ecotour. Don, Jill and Ron played around just before dinner with the see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil gestures … but all three said “No promises!”

And earlier in the day, John found an iguana having either a late lunch or early dinner!

The trip was great for everyone. We collected 7 sessions of data observations (yielding about 4 hrs of video) and helped with a coral cleaning dive as well as other dives. And, we enjoyed each other’s company!

We look forward to a future DCP ecotour. Tomorrow we return home but will keep our memories alive with photos from the week!

Cheers

Kathleen and DCP’s October 2021 RIMS/AKR Ecotour group

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Dolphins, Diving, and lots of underwater fun!
23 October 2021

Dolphins, Diving, and lots of underwater fun!

We had almost everyone join us for the morning dolphin data collection observations. We rode to Baileys Key in the water taxi before many other guests were up … you can see we are all smiles and ready to greet the day! There was some sea grass play this morning – among the dolphins and with a few observers around the lagoon periphery! Louise did her first session as data recorder (with Ron). She did a good job and was able to understand some of my comments from across the lagoon!

Champ and Stan, and occasionally Tank, had some fun play with my fins. And there was some socializing and chasing among the dolphins. Thankfully, Ronnie and Ritchie spent more time with Lenca and kept his attention from me! (I thanked them profusely!)

Our divers had three excellent dives with some interesting fish and other critters seen. And, John, Louise, and I went snorkeling on the west side of Baileys Key where we saw a snowflake eel – black base color with white and yellow spots. Very pretty!

In the afternoon, we all got our covid tests for our return to the USA on Saturday – we all are negative (hurray). Dinner was yummy (as always) and at Louise’s urging, Stephen made us a special dessert – banana flambé with vanilla or strawberry ice cream. It was very yummy!!

Tomorrow is our last data session for this trip and the last dives – several of our group will be doing a shark dive … we told Jill not to worry unless she hears the JAWs music!

Until tomorrow,

Cheers

Kathleen and DCP’s October 2021 RIMS/AKR Ecotour group

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Two Data Collection Sessions! Dolphins galore!
23 October 2021

Two Data Collection Sessions! Dolphins galore!

My morning session had Champ, Lenca, and Stan enamored of my fins. They socialized with each other also. There were some chases and lots of whistles and other vocalizations. The programs were light at Bailey’s Key this morning, so I was able to get a second observation session in at about 9:30 AM. And, we could say Happy Birthday to Bailey! We learned from Meredith that she’s 16 today. The second session was just adult females and younger calves. It was delightful to see Gracie, Calli, Elli, and Alita with and without calves nearby. Tilly actually was playing with Rocky, Buzz, and Tank for a bit of time and Sandy and Tank also played a mouthing game with each other.

The afternoon saw nearly everyone in our group in the water! And, Dave on the snorkel boat and Bill, Don, and Ron from the dive boat all saw some wild dolphins to or from their respective reef dive spots. John and Jill went for a shore dive and I snorkeled above them a bit. Louise snorkeled, enjoyed the pool, and kayaked while Chris enjoyed the view from her water-front cabin.

Our evening was celebratory with fiesta night! The food was delicious (as always) and the crab races and Garifuna dancers were a highlight of the evening. Roatan midnight came a bit earlier tonight!

Tomorrow will see us all repeating today’s adventures!

Until then,

Cheers

Kathleen and DCP’s October 2021 RIMS/AKR Ecotour group

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Diving, Dolphins, and Shrimp!
23 October 2021

Diving, Dolphins, and Shrimp!

For most of us, the morning dawned early and bright. For a few of us, morning was a tad later as they prepared for the morning dive or snorkel. John, Chris, and Dave joined me this morning for my observations and data collection at Bailey’s Key. The main lagoon was deceptively quiet with little surface activity. Underwater, about 30 seconds after entry, Sandy and Tank bee-lined directly at me! What a way to start the session! As you can see from the photo, there was LOTS of contact and very little “personal space.” Poli was my best buddy for most of the session. But I also got to see everyone underwater this morning, including Gracie!

The dive crew had a delightful first dive where close contact was the trend too – Apparently a green moray eel visited Jill, Bill, and Ron. Don decided to watch the eel get cozy with the others. On the second dive, John joined the group and got a lovely video of a blue shrimp – it might be hard to see but this shrimp is about 1 inch long!

Everyone took a bit of a slow afternoon and we regrouped for supper while most of the other guests were doing the night dive. Louise and I reviewed the video from the day – fun to see it again!

Tomorrow will bring us more dives, snorkeling, and data observation collection.

Until then,

Cheers

Kathleen and DCP’s October 2021 RIMS/AKR Ecotour group

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Nursing, Wrestling, Sea-Grass Play!
23 October 2021

Nursing, Wrestling, Sea-Grass Play!

This morning’s data collection session was about 30 minutes with exceptionally good underwater visibility! Thankfully, only a few dolphins showed serious interest in my fins today with Sandy and Tank spending their curiosity on my fins during the first part of the session and Stan and Champ wrapping up the session with a full-on wiggle session near my fins! Calli, Poli and Elli (see cover photo) each invited me to play with sea grass … tempting as their gestures were, I resisted and watched them play with the sea grass with each other in a sort of keep-away game. Both Buzz and Rocky were observed nursing from their moms. And, Ronnie and Ritchie seemed to have begun to take interest in Bailey. Tank is now a juvenile, which means that Bailey might soon be ready to receive Ronnie and Ritchie’s attention … she was also curious about my fins and the sea grass during the morning session too!

Here Ritchie and Rnnie are following Bailey!

In addition to data collection, our group did several dives today with Don and Ron taking the dive boat around to Maya Key and Louise joining them from the snorkel/shuttle route. They all enjoyed the tiny satellite island of AKR. Jill and Bill also did an afternoon shore dive to the north of Anthony’s Key, the same location where Dave did a mid-morning snorkel to spy on some unsuspecting reef fish! And, of course, Chris, Dave, and I had more science discussions!

In short, another productive DCP day here at AKR and RIMS!!

Tomorrow promises more fun in the sun!

Until then,

Cheers

Kathleen and DCP’s October 2021 RIMS/AKR Ecotour group

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Data Collection Session #36 for 2021!
23 October 2021

Data Collection Session #36 for 2021!

I was able to collect 40 minutes of video this morning of dolphins that seemed really happy to see me! They all had smiles! Ok, that’s really anthropomorphic … but it did seem like several of the young dolphins had missed my fins as play toys! There were LOTS of whistles and bubble streams and much chasing and play behavior. Our group met me at the water taxi at 6:30 and I was in the water about 20 minutes later. The underwater visibility was excellent!

I watched as Maury herded Rocky away from me (though not before I got the cover photo of him!) and Alita did the same with Buzz.

Ronnie and RItchie spent much time together and you can see them here playing the “strong silent” types as they swam in formation around me for a few passes.

Our group was very helpful with the surface observations. And most everyone got several dives in today from Isamar, their dive boat.

I also was able to connect with the training staff and say hi to more than just the dolphins! Chris, Dave and I scienced the afternoon in good and productive discussions, while a few folks dove and others enjoyed the pool ambience! A generally great day all around!

Tomorrow should bring the same.

Cheers

Kathleen and DCP’s October 2021 RIMS/AKR Ecotour group

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Travel Day – Everyone made it!
23 October 2021

Travel Day – Everyone made it!

We all made it to Roatan without a hitch, even though a few connections in Atlanta were tight! I am usually on one of the early arrival flights but today, everyone else arrived before Ron, Bill, John, and me! It felt like coming home to AKR and RIMS. It was delightful to see everyone – staff and DCP participants alike! I even got to see several of the trainers this afternoon; the dolphins will wait until tomorrow morning as I had to put the array together.

We all enjoyed the sunset and our group will be on the Isamar for the week with Alson. John got a nice shot of the sunset and Isamar from the water taxi stand. It was fun to reconnect with Chris, Dave, Don, and Jill and to welcome Louise to our roster. Everyone plans to take tomorrow slow … though I will be heading over to Bailey’s Key at 6:30 AM with anyone who wants to help with data collection!

Until then …

Cheers

Kathleen and the DCP October 2021 RIMS/AKR Ecotour group

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All our Bags are Packed!
23 October 2021

All our Bags are Packed!

And we’re ready to go! Leaving on a jet plane … sound familiar?

Yes, it’s a song. But, also, we’re on our way back to Anthony’s Key Resort on Roatan for another week! Ron and Bill came to Florida to fly with John and me. Baloo is eyeing our bags … maybe wondering if she’s coming to…? Dixie is not having any of it. Nicole is here and Dixie knows she’ll have a wonderful time with Aunt Nicole while we are in the field. (Thank you, Dr. Nicole!)

We depart tomorrow morning for our flight from Miami to Roatan. Two other sets of participants fly through Houston and Atlanta. We will all regroup on Roatan at Anthony’s Key. We are all very much looking forward to returning to our “second home”!

We will share our updates and details from our early morning data collection and our snorkeling and scuba dives throughout the week. Thanks for joining us virtually!

Until tomorrow,

Cheers

Kathleen

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DCP Deep Dive: Protecting Goliath Grouper
23 October 2021

DCP Deep Dive: Protecting Goliath Grouper

*Content warning: there are a few graphic images, especially related to the impacts of mercury poisoning. As such, we recommend this presentation for mature audiences.*

TLDR, Links referenced in talk:

FWC 6 October 2021 meeting, with goliath grouper on agenda. Submit public comments here by 5p ET 1 October 2021.

Why any goliath grouper fishery at all is a bad idea here.

Draft rule language here.

Jean-Michel Cousteau's PSA here.

Goliaths in the Stream short film here.

Active petition against goliath grouper fishery here.

In this DCP Deep Dive, Dr. Chris Malinowski, a biologist passionate about conservation of marine and aquatic systems discusses not dolphins, but a fish: the goliath grouper. The Atlantic Goliath Grouper, a large indigenous tropical reef fish, approached local extinction in U. S. waters by the 1980s, as a result of intense fishing pressure. In 1990, federal and state laws intervened to protect this species. The resulting fishery closure allowed limited, slow population recovery in Florida waters and a dive ecotourism industry blossomed. During this special Deep Dive, Chris discusses goliath grouper’s biology, the controversy surrounding its protection, and the drawbacks of re-establishing a fishery including loss of nursery habitat, increasingly destructive episodic events like red tide and cold snaps, and the effects of mercury contamination on fish health and survival, as well as human health implications.

We learned during this webinar (9 Sept 2021) that the commissioners on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (aka FWC) are considering re-opening the fishery to recreational fishers. For folks who want to speak up for the best available science, which does not support opening even a limited harvest for goliath grouper, you can voice this by emailing FWC Commissioners at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You can also submit public comments, for the 6 Oct meeting, by completing this form. PUBLIC COMMENTS ARE DUE FRIDAY 1 OCT, BY 5p ET. Future public FWC meetings on the goliath grouper should be announced at https://myfwc.com/news/.

DCP supports making sure that the science is heard over the misperceptions of a few individuals that are likely driving the pressure to reopen this fishery.

The active, online petition in support of protecting goliath grouper can be found here.

Note that this petition was started in 2018, during the last Commissioner hearing when goliath grouper were still listed as critically endangered by IUCN. They are now listed as "vulnerable.”

You can also read the letter Chris and colleagues wrote to the Commissioners that was signed by prominent scientists and conservationists. This will help viewers further understand the points made during this talk. His website and the letter can be read here.

Chris’ presentation includes the PSA announcement that Jean-Michelle Cousteau made in support of the goliath grouper. This PSA video is also on Chris’ website (see above). You can also follow Chris on Instagram (@conservation.chris).

And, last but not least, you can check out Terramar Productions' short film, Goliaths in the Stream for a stunning visual representation about these fish, their history, and their plight.

DCP Deep Dives are geared toward ages 14+, but all are welcome. In this presentation, there are a few graphic images, especially related to the impacts of mercury poisoning. As such, we recommend this presentation for mature audiences.

 

Original Airdate: 9 September 2021

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Erin E. Frick, PhD
23 October 2021

Erin E. Frick, PhD

Assistant Professor of Animal Studies, Eckerd College

Dr. Erin Frick is an Assistant Professor of Animal Studies at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL. Originally from Sparta, NJ, Erin earned her B.Sc. in Zoology with minors in Animal Behavior and Spanish from the University of New Hampshire. She then went on to complete her Masters and Doctoral degrees in Brain and Behavior Psychology from the University of Southern Mississippi, working in the Marine Mammal Behavior and Cognition Laboratory with director Dr. Stan Kuczaj. Erin has been active in research for more than 10 years, and her research interests include animal behavior, animal welfare and conservation, and applied behavior analysis in animal models. She has experience conducting research with wild animals and animals housed in managed-care facilities, including: bottlenose dolphins, rough-toothed dolphins, sea otters, Asian small-clawed otters, hippopotamus, polar bears, sea lions, Pacific walrus, sea turtles, zebrafish, and rats. Dr. Erin Frick currently serves as co-director of the Animal Studies Research Collaborative at Eckerd College, and is the Director of the Frick Animal Behavior Laboratory, where she and her students are collaborating with the DCP on analyzing data on bottlenose dolphin and Atlantic spotted dolphin behavior and acoustics collected by the DCP in the field. 'Dr Erin' is passionate about educating the public and and furthering research on dolphin behavior and communication! 

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Last Day of Early Morning Observations!
23 October 2021

Last Day of Early Morning Observations!

Today, we share the last day observations from each student individually.

Victor: The morning was data but also a chance to say goodbye to the dolphins. I’m still not sure who is who but I can recognize 1 or 2 … especially Poli. The other highlight for me today was snorkeling in the afternoon at Bailey’s Key near the dolphin area. This made getting my covid test in Coxen Hole and away from the dolphins ok.

Alessandro: Today was a relaxing day. After the last data collection, we had one of the best snorkeling sessions around. We took our time and swam from the shore dive and saw the coral reef trees for the restoration project. It was a new experience. Lunch was a very delicious falafel. I tried to watch the football but I decided it was better to be in the Caribbean and enjoy the day. I said bye to the dolphins but not a forever bye.

Marica: This afternoon I saw an eagle ray while snorkeling, and I was able to record it feeding, which was neat.

Laura: We woke up and we unfortunately did our last data collection for this week. The dolphins were more active today from the surface. We saw a few breaches. We got to say goodbye to the dolphins and some of them came close to the platforms, which was nice. After breakfast, we went snorkeling and we saw the coral trees. There were a lot of big fishes near the trees. While swimming back, we swam over the eel grass and all got a few bites from the jellyfish larva. We saw the dolphins again in the afternoon but from outside their enclosure when we were snorkeling.

Riccardo: Today I touched dolphins for the last time. I enjoyed very much this afternoon’s snorkeling session because the water was clear and warm and we had no rush to finish … we had all the time we wanted to enjoy the afternoon snorkeling.

Annalisa: It was a quiet day mostly “off” but the best moment was when I was able to take some video on my own of the dolphins. And, Bailey seemed very interested in my GoPro. Having the dolphins all around was wonderful!

Sonja: Had a nice morning, although as bit sad because we had to say goodbye to the dolphins. The rest of the day was relaxing and enjoying a bit of free time and snorkeling. And we finished the night with a quiz of 27 dolphin ID images, which was quite fun! (And Davide and I tied with recognizing 18 of the 27 images!).

Davide: The trip to the coral trees (snorkeling from shore) was a nice moment together and seeing the trees. It was nice but also sad to say goodbye to the dolphins. I will miss the little ones – Sandy, Stan & Ronnie … Ronnie is adult but I’ll still miss him, too.

Shannon: We had a nice last morning with the dolphins and they were very friendly and came to say goodbye at the platform. I got sunburned when I went paddle-boarding. I avoided it all week but got sun this week and have a really cool sandal tan! We saw the dolphins one last time in the afternoon and also snorkeled and saw an eagle ray. And, I am covid negative, so I can go home!

It was a great week and we all learned lots!

Cheers

The UofB stvslmv group

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A Wet Thursday!
23 October 2021

A Wet Thursday!

This morning, surprise! We collected data with Kathleen’s observations. The dolphins were a bit more active this morning compared to yesterday. We saw some breaching. And Bailey did a weird curved posture for Laura (see cover photo) while Stan did a “fluke-stand” for her. (Thank you, Laura).

The weather was better with sunshine and a slight breeze. Sometimes the dolphins were chasing each other at the surface. And, several dolphins paid a visit to platform 1 to try to entice us to play … away from our observations. The space use data collection is much more easy to collect than when we began and the scans don’t feel as rushed any more.

Here, Sonja, Alessandro, and Victor conduct a space use scan from the Palapa.

After data collection, we stopped by our rooms to collect our gear.

We came back for a quick breakfast before two snorkels from the boat. On the snorkels, some of us were lucky and saw a squid, stingray, lionfish, triggerfish, damsel fish, fairy basslets, sergeant majors, wrasse, and barracuda. We also saw grouper and parrot fish. They were two good snorkels – the first was off Man-o-war key and the second was off the reef closer to AKR.

The reef looked beautiful from the surface – thanks Manon for sharing this photo!

After lunch we had a talk from Jen on coral restoration. Some of us might try to snorkel out to the coral “Christmas trees” tomorrow to take a look at them. The talk was interesting and it was informative to learn how we might actually be able to protect the reefs and encourage new growth.

We watched the morning video and saw Lenca, Stan and Tank pay way too much attention to Kathleen’s fins. We will have a couple of hours “off” before our night snorkel.

The night snorkel presented us with “cold” water! But, we saw a big puffer fish, an octopus, a couple of lobsters, and other nighttime critters. The animals made the cold water worth it!

After dinner, we saw a spotted eagle ray adjacent to the water taxi stand. A great day!

Cheers

The UofB stvslmv group

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Another Packed Day!
23 October 2021

Another Packed Day!

We did our morning observations and data collection. No sunrise this morning but a cloudy day and windy. And the dolphins were quiet, sleeping it seemed – maybe like a hangover in humans.

After breakfast, we prepared ourselves to get ready for our encounter and snorkel with the dolphins. We had more than Bailey during our encounter – French and Tilly were chasing each other and trying to swim between us. Tilly seemed to be hiding behind our legs watching for French. And Bailey was also keeping an eye on Tank because he seemed to be half-interested in his encounter program. When Bailey and Tank did behaviors together, Tank seemed distracted but came around to Bailey. Not all of us had our pictures taken with Bailey … but there were four of us who did document our meeting with Bailey.

Here is Marica and Bailey

And, Shannon and Bailey

And Sonja and Bailey

When the dolphin kisses you on the cheek, we did not realize how much pressure they exerted – See Davide with Bailey to get an idea!

Our swim followed the encounter. Annalisa did not expect to be able to hear them before seeing them in the water. Shannon did not realize that they could be constantly vocalizing. Laura kept hearing the sound get louder and then started when she realized the dolphin was right behind her! Sonja did not even realize that Sandy leaped just behind her. And all of us had 2-3-4 dolphins zip around us and leap near us and we were amazed that they did not touch us or hit us. Shannon had a great sea grass game with Calli and another dolphin. Sandy mouthed several of our fins and seemed to like Riccardo’s white fins especially.

After the swim, we stayed at Bailey’s Key to test out the MVA – outside to the north of the main lagoon area. It was easier and light than it looks to swim with the MVA.

Lunch was a welcome reward for a day spent in the water. And, at lunch a few of us could have easily slept at the table. So, after lunch we took a bit of a chill-out on the small Anthony’s Key beach … to bask in the sun and catch a power nap before heading to the RIMS classroom for a sea turtle lecture and more details about the PSP study by Manon and Kathleen.

Our lesson on sea turtles was good – a nice recap on some of the topics we had during our large marine vertebrate lectures. Then, we had a presentation by Manon about PSP (pair swim position) that was interesting … to learn about the different positions that dolphins will assume when swimming with others.

Here we listen intently!

Then we watched the video from the morning. And, we will wrap up this field report now so we can head to the fiesta night to enjoy ribs, limbo, and Garifuna dancers.

Cheers

The UofB stvslmv group

 

P.S. here are two photos from yesterday’s space use data collection observations!

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Another Early Day, but with some cloud cover
23 October 2021

Another Early Day, but with some cloud cover

Each student presents their summary of the day. The cover photo is Bailey playing with water – Thank you, Manon.

Laura: we woke up and we went to collect data at 6 AM. We did a great job and are more comfortable with the data collection. I’m focused and faster when I search for dolphins for the space use data collection. I also liked learning how to log the videotapes and how patience and focus are important when doing those analyses. This morning when we finished the first part of data with Kathleen, there was a dolphin that came close to the palapa and then vocalized. A second dolphin pushed the vocalizer away …

Shannon: my favorite part of today was when we went snorkeling and all the dolphins were looking at us – we were outside of the main lagoon and outside by the fence. Maury kept bringing us a rock and tried to get us to take it through the netting. Sandy was pulling on a piece of the netting. It was really fun to try to ID the dolphin underwater for the first time – in real life, not from video.

Riccardo: Finally, I was able to learn one name of the dolphins – because I was watching directly, not from video, but I remembered Bailey. It was a very intimate moment … we staired at each other and played the game of who will blink first. Bailey blinked first.

Annalisa: I enjoyed today to see how the students worked together and how they had fun not only working (for data collection) but also on their “free time.” And I am happy I saw an agouti as I came up for dinner. It was very cute and funny the way it looked at the fellow who was cleaning the pathway.

Marica: I liked everything today! I loved doing the observation and the work with the dolphins. Her peers said Marica was exceptional at knowing where Kathleen was at all times.

Sonja: Today was a perfect sandwich day – the morning was data collection and then the middle of the day was learning more about the IDs and logging video and then the afternoon was seeing them underwater and remembering them. A perfect sandwich day!

Alessandro: We had a lovely data sampling and discussions with Kathleen (and Manon) in the morning before a nice veggie burger. In the afternoon, we had a bit of free time and did some snorkeling around the dolphins adjacent to the main lagoon … and I am still a bit confused about recognizing the dolphins. I had a nice moment swimming off into the sunset with no fins before returning to reality. This is a nice reality.

Victor: I liked the first moment of the morning before we do the data sampling that the dolphins were playful at the platform. I was able to touch the dolphins and they were whistling and vocalizing. It was also a good data off collecting data.

Davide: I like that we are gearing up with data collection – for the space use data, we are getting better with activity levels and the grid (Thank you, Manon, for the photo below), and we are also getting better with the photo-ID. And we have a very supportive group – we can talk about everything and anything. I had some photos of the dolphin acrobatics today.

Cheers

The UofB stvslmv group

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Data, Dolphins, Video, Snorkeling – all in a day!
23 October 2021

Data, Dolphins, Video, Snorkeling – all in a day!

We woke up and prepared to collect morning surface observations and space use data from 6 am; actually, we took the water taxi at 6 am to Bailey’s Key. The dolphins were having weird zoomies across the lagoon. They were giving us a private show – there were numerous leaps and breaches and lots of vocal behavior. This was a small group near the palapa socializing (Thank you, Davide).

We are still working on our data collection techniques.

After breakfast, we had a class to learn about the DCP history and current research projects. We spent a couple of hours in the RIMS classroom and some of us were chilly while others were warm. We also watched this morning’s video and learned more about the individual ID marks and scars and tried to recognize the individual dolphins. It’s gonna take a while to recognize all of them! We also compared the differences between underwater and surface observations and the details we could get from each vantage point. And, we discussed the differences between kin and non-kin behaviors and interactions.

Lunch was followed by a snorkel to a reef off West End. The reef was filled with fish but we hope to see the turtles on our next outing. Still, we saw a puffer fish and a barracuda. We saw the queen angel fish, triggerfish, and a few schools of blue tang. And we saw a black durgeon. There were also lots of scuba divers below us. We shared the reef and played with their bubbles. The trip back was uneventful.

We spent some time over at Bailey’s watching and trying to identify the dolphins. We hung out with the dolphins and Rocky was quite talkative. It was a nice way to spend an hour or two this afternoon before supper.

As we write this blog in the lobby, we had a tangent to look at some still photos of the dolphins to try our hand at recognizing them. We have a bit of work to do! And, we have a live music background keeping us dancing in our seats.

Cheers

The UofB small terrestrial vertebrates studying large marine vertebrates (stvslmv) group

 

P.S. the bat species is Artibeus jamaicensis. See last night’s blog for the photo of this species. And, they are multiplying as we have 1-2 at a few rooms in the eves.

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Meeting the Dolphins and Collecting Data
23 October 2021

Meeting the Dolphins and Collecting Data

This morning was the UofB’s group’s first data collection session at Bailey’s Key. We had a long day today and so Manon and I are writing this night’s blog post. The dolphins were VERY social and the visibility was really good. Sandy and Champ spent quite a bit of time circling Kathleen and checking out her fins. And, French joined Kathleen after the session for a rubdown. Ronnie spent some time with Annalisa, Szonya, and Alessandro trying to get them to play with sea grass. The cover photo shows Bailey trying to get Manon to play with sea grass!

After the data collection, we had a delicious breakfast and then spent a bit of time with Kathleen on the porch between Szonya, Laura, Marica, and Shannon’s rooms to learn about the MVA and the data collection procedures. We met the RIMS interns too. Thank you, Annalisa, for the photo of our attention directed at Kathleen.

A late morning snorkel by Bailey’s Key presented several small fish, at least three lobsters and several spiny urchins. The water was warm and a welcome respite from the hot air. Everyone is strong in the water and had a good time.

Lunch provided a mid-day break followed by some space use data collection during an encounter. We learned how to apply the grid to place Kathleen in the main lagoon, and also the dolphins. After these data collection, we spent time observing a few of the dolphins from closer in the back area … we met Stan, Lenca, Champ, French, Gracie, Bailey and Tank and saw their rakes and other scars up close. It was a great day!

We wrapped up the evening with a fish ID talk in the RIMS classroom, dinner and then watching the video from this morning when Kathleen was collecting data.

We are ready to go a bit early tomorrow and will be meeting at 6 AM to start our day.

Cheers

Kathleen, Manon and the UofB group

P.S. Manon and Kathleen are sharing a room with a couple of bats … the bats are outside. Manon was able to photograph one of them this morning.

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Changing Groups – CSU group departs, Univ of Bologna MC group arrives
23 October 2021

Changing Groups – CSU group departs, Univ of Bologna MC group arrives

The CSU group had their last data collection/observation session this morning. The “cover” photo shows me collecting data and a student team on platform 3 with Shane observing from the west side of the lagoon. (Thank you for the photo, Marc!) Each of three student teams collected space use data and surface observations while I was collecting data with the MVA. It was a morning full of activity!

The panorama shot shows some of the surface activity while Marc watches from a finger dock and Alexa records data on the platform. Ashley is behind the camera, taking the photo!

This group did a great job of getting into the grove of data collection. And, the dolphins – several of them – came to the corner of the lagoon while we waited for the water taxi to take us closer to breakfast.

With the CSU group, we collected ~3.5 hours of video with the GoPro and the MVA in 7 early morning sessions. It was lovely to collect data this morning …

Manon and I had to move to a different room and we settled in nicely and spent a bit of time sorting data and preparing for the next group of students. They are participants in the University of Bologna’s Master Course in Large Vertebrates. They had a lengthy wait in the San Pedro Sula airport (see photo) but arrived happily to AKR.

Their first view of Bailey’s was from the lookout near the AKR dining room (see photo). And we look forward to introducing them to the dolphins tomorrow morning.

Here’s to another week of dolphin observations and data collection!

Cheers

Kathleen, Manon and the UofB group (signature name TBD)

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Our Last Full Day at AKR with DCP!
23 October 2021

Our Last Full Day at AKR with DCP!

We got up early again and went to Bailey’s Key to do observations. And, before we could start with our space use data baseline, we saw a giant sting ray and an eagle ray in the dolphin enclosures. They did not seem to want to hang out with the dolphins …

Thank you Manon for the great eagle ray photo ...

This morning was the smoothest day yet for space use data and surface observation data. They were VERY active. There was one dolphin breaching several times in Grid A3 space. And, then there were pec fin slaps and other surface behaviors. This was one of the most active days we remember … at least since the first day. But, we knew what to look for today and to record.

We actually had a leisurely breakfast – the French toast was very delicious and most of us had that meal this morning.

After breakfast we returned to the classroom for a presentation by Manon on relationship quality and PSP (pair swims). She did a really good job in teaching us in-depth what they have been doing to look at the relationships between dolphins. They use a program called Boris and Manon explained the formulas she used to assess the variables.

We also watched the video from this morning’s data collection session and saw the behavioral interactions from Kathleen’s perspective. We watched the stingray in the lagoon try to climb the netting to get out. We watched Poli and Elli and the others play with a piece of mangrove root that looked like a stick to us.

We had a little bit of a break and then ate lunch. After lunch, eight of us went horseback riding along the beach. Nathan really enjoyed his ride … thank you Alexa for the photo. We learned tonight this was a bucket list item for Nathan – to ride a horse on the beach with his shirt open and the wind blowing through his hair. Check!

Some of us went snorkeling off the north side of Anthony’s Key and got to see the coral reef restoration trees first-hand and we also picked up a bit of trash while snorkeling. Those who rode horses then went snorkeling later and a few others of us went to the pool while still others took a lengthy nap. It was a relaxing afternoon … until we had our second meetings with Kathleen and Shane. The meetings went well … Alexa did a little spin-pose on arrival and Marc did a leprechaun kick after leaving his meeting.

Dinner followed our meetings and it was yummy! Filet mignon, French onion soup, and cheesecake! After dinner … we were tested on our knowledge of the RIMS dolphins … it was much harder than we thought it would be. Our of 27 images, the highest number was a tie for 9! (We must need more time here to really remember the scars and marks!)

We finished the night with our blog (which took longer than usual because we also filled out the pre-check forms on our phones), filling out the Honduras exit pre-check form ,and watching more video (from yesterday morning). We travel home tomorrow …

Cheers

Dr. Kanatous’ Kindergartners (aka Roatan Rams 2021)

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Thinking on Thursday!
23 October 2021

Thinking on Thursday!

We began our morning as every other day – with observations of dolphins! The dolphins seemed much more calm today, even though there seemed to also be lots of social behavior … but it was more under the surface. And the dolphins seemed also not to pay us much attention.

After our dolphin observations, we got our brains tickled … and we are all covid negative! Woohoo!

After a light breakfast then we had a double boat snorkel – that is we took the boat trip and did two snorkel sessions. The first one was ~20 min boat ride and allowed us to see lots of fish along the reef. The second session was at Bear’s Den and the visibility was EXCELLENT – very clear. We saw comb jellies, sea stars, lots of fish, eagle rays, a school of tangs, some grouper, trumpet fish, triggerfish, angel fish, damsel fish, box fish … almost too many types to name. The second session was also much deeper and it also had many crevices and cave-like spaces.

This view from the boat is from Brittany (Thanks!).

Manon got her luggage!! We shrieked in delight! And it was delightful for her to have her own clothing and gear …

After lunch we had a talk from Jennifer about coral restoration. We have never heard about this process … just that the coral reef was degraded. We learned how long corals take to grow and also about the process that the Coral Restoration Foundation is doing to repopulate various reefs throughout the Caribbean. The underwater nursery was very neat to learn about and to see how the process is set up here off Roatan and AKR and how the community is so supportive of the process to protect the reef.

Our afternoon was scheduled into 15-minute segments with Shane and Kathleen to review our course projects – either a research question that examined a behavior indicative of a physiological process or a PSA that takes something we learned here on Roatan and applies it to/for the CSU community. Some of us felt this session was soul-crushing while others were uplifted and joyful following their chat. You know who you are!

Dinner was loud, full of conversation, and delicious. This week has been full of very interesting meal conversations … mostly because Kathleen does not allow us to use or have our cell phones at the meal table.

Cheers

Dr. Kanatous’ Kindergartners (aka Roatan Rams 2021)

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We Swam with Dolphins!!
23 October 2021

We Swam with Dolphins!!

We snorkeled with dolphins! But, of course, first we did observations – and hopefully our smoothest ones yet – for space use data and the surface observations when Kathleen was in the lagoon with the dolphins. There was a lot of aerial activity when Kathleen got in the water. We saw them circle Kathleen a few times … they were close. Calli and a few other dolphins really wanted to play with Ashley and Sean. Maybe this was foreshadowing because Calli was the dolphin we met during the encounter. Overall, the dolphins were very playful this morning. And you can see our group shot with Calli on front!

Here's a close-up of Calli.

Breakfast was yummy and we also got a chance to speak with and listen to Don Julio, founder and owner of Anthony’s Key Resort. We got to see how involved he is with everything here at the resort. He was familiar with every aspect of the facility and did not seem frustrated or stressed but spoke highly of the guests and the employees. It was very obvious how much Don Julio cares about all aspects of the resort. He said everyone should laugh every day and he said his job is to please you (the guest). And, Don Julio also asked us how he could make our experience better … which was unique to us because he is the owner but was so involved.

We had to leave our chat with Don Julio to head over to Bailey’s Key for our dolphin encounter and swim. We met Calli who gave us French kisses! Kenly is Calli’s trainer and he introduced us to Calli’s behaviors and mannerisms. He also told us that Calli is not doing aerial behaviors because she is pregnant. Kenly shared with us his history of working with Calli and the story behind her name. It was a great session and their relationship was very evident and very affectionate.

After the encounter, we had the swim! It was amazing! Each morning, we’ve seen the dolphin behaviors from the surface but today it was like being part of a Planet Earth documentary. It was an honor to have Calli take some grass from my (Ashley’s) hand. The swim gave us a whole new perspective from what we already have – that is, surface versus underwater observation platforms and what they offer of dolphin behavior and interactions. I (Marc) felt more comfortable in the water snorkeling this morning – especially after 2-3 snorkel sessions – and it was appreciated to be this comfy with the dolphins.

Lunch … we worked up an appetite! Excellent dessert – a pineapple tart!

Our afternoon began with a talk from Teri, Assistant Director of RIMS. She told us about the RIMS history and the projects and research ongoing here at RIMS. Then we watched this morning’s video data with the RIMS interns and improved our ID skills even more. We all know Stan well since he was all about Kathleen’s fins this morning!

Then, Shane and Kathleen made us ask questions.

Tonight is Fiesta Night – we will have BBQ and learn about the Garifuna dancers and culture.

Cheers

Dr. Kanatous’ Kindergartners (aka Roatan Rams 2021)

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Dolphins, Sea Turtles, Octopuses (et al.)
23 October 2021

Dolphins, Sea Turtles, Octopuses (et al.)

We finally did both the surface observations and the space use data collection during Kathleen’s morning session. We felt more comfortable with the whole process. Standing on the finger dock, Marc saw more activity underwater and it was much easier to see into the water and across the lagoon when standing rather than sitting on the docks. The dolphins were active but not doing lots above the water or at the surface. There were some speed swims and pec slaps and tail slaps. There was also quite a lot of pair swims and much rolling over each other.

Breakfast was welcome – it’s the most important meal of the day! And it was delicious.

Then we went to the classroom for Kathleen’s presentation about communication. It was interesting to learn the nuances related to language and communication and that they are not the same. Kirsten noted that she did not know dolphins could not smell, though they have a sense of taste.

We had a bit of a break and then lunch and then the afternoon started with a talk by Jennifer, RIMS Education Director, about sea turtles. The sea turtle conservation information was fascinating and we learned more about natal homing and that beaches that might not have been used could be rehabilitated for sea turtles by moving nests and replacing their natal beach with a new beach. We learned also about the different species of turtles and their nesting, hatching and migratory patterns as they grow.

After the sea turtle talk, we watched the morning data video session. We shared this video with the RIMS interns and shared ID confirmation from the video of the dolphins. (CSU did great!)

We had about an hour and a half to prepare for our very FIRST night snorkel. We saw a puffer fish, a lionfish, several lobsters, a big octopus. And, Shane rescued an old iron that we learned after the fact had been a new home to two tiny octopuses. The cover photo is the octopus on Shane’s thumb before we returned it to the sea. (Thank you, Kirsten, for the photo!) It clung to Shane’s thumb before we were able to say bye.

Dinner was awesome and we were able to share stories and recap the day.

Tomorrow promises to be another great day!

Cheers

Dr. Kanatous’ Kindergartners (aka Roatan Rams 2021)

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Crazy Coral and Silly Snorkeling! (and Pseudo-dolphins)
23 October 2021

Crazy Coral and Silly Snorkeling! (and Pseudo-dolphins)

Of course, the day began as a typical Monday, even in the field. Manon and Kathleen got locked out of their room – before getting the gear (MVA, data sheets, snorkel gear) for our early morning observation session and data collection. This was at 5:15 AM! The front desk opens at 6 AM … they both did the 52 steps from taxi stand to front desk before meeting with Alexza for the spare key.

After the key fiasco, and Manon’s fourth straight day venting to the airline company (to remain unnamed), they finally found her bag! Of course, her bag is still somewhere in Europe and won’t actually be here until Thursday (we hope) but it still exists! And before our ride to Bailey’s we were observing nature and saw the puffer fish in our cover photo (Thank you Alexa or Alison!)

So, after these two sagas, the rest of the day was a piece of cake! Kathleen is just learning that three students overslept for the meet time this morning … so it would seem we all had a typical Monday morning start! And our day improved significantly as the day progressed.

Data collection in the morning was a great learning experience but the space use data was sort of a failure (according to the students) … mostly because clarity in the instructions and directions and understanding of what we were supposed to do. We also were juggling the regular surface observations with the space use data collection.

Thank you Marc for this panorama view of the main lagoon.

Breakfast was delicious and followed by a lecture on diving physiology from Shane. We loved the lecture because it took a lot of what we’ve learned before in other classes that were “weed-out topics” and Shane’s lecture brought everything together and made it more clear and understandable. We feel like we learned more because we were sort of put on the spot a bit … and we were challenged to think which was unique. This was our first in-person lecture in a year and a half … Shane really made us think and respond to his questions.

Lunch was meatball sandwiches or shrimp salad or veggie pizza … and a different but good carrot cake. This was the sustenance we needed for our boat snorkel session. This boat snorkel was the first time several of us EVER jumped off a perfectly good boat into the water to see what lives below. And we survived this emotional experience. Seeing in person what we have studied and watched in film over the years was a spiritual experience that did not really feel real but was truly exciting. Getting a bit scared because my snorkel buddy was gone and then I realized he was 15-20 feet below me!

We took a freshwater rinse together in the pool! Kathleen brought the MVA to the pool and we all got to practice using the MVA to record pseudo-dolphins in the pool (i.e., us in the pool). We’re grateful (and honored) to be participants in the DCP research and to be assisting Kathleen. To be able to hold the equipment that she uses to collect data and see what it feels like and how it works was a surreal and cool experience.  

It was a good day and we have another tomorrow … hopefully with everyone hearing our alarms and not getting locked out!

Cheers

Dr. Kanatous’ Kindergartners (aka Roatan Rams 2021)

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Happy Father’s Day!
23 October 2021

Happy Father’s Day!

We have another set of observations from our student group.

Brittany: incredibly long day but incredibly interesting day. It was really cool being able to see the dolphins in the morning and how active they were. And it was awesome to go snorkeling and see all the fish and coral. A long day but I learned a lot.

Marc: It was amazing to start the day seeing the dolphins and looking across to Bailey’s Key and not seeing lots of movement but then getting in the boat to the key and seeing their activity pick up after we arrived and throughout the session this morning. There was more activity than I thought there would be.

Alexa: I loved starting off the day getting to see how the dolphins behaved, even before breakfast it was neat getting to see the dolphins’ routine in the morning and seeing the scientific part of the research. And, in all this heat and humidity it was very refreshing to snorkel and to see all the species of fish I’ve never before seen.

Emily: Snorkeling was definitely a new experience but it was cool to see all the colors of the coral. My favorite was the common sea fan and all the little fish.

Ashley: I had a lot of new experiences today and all of them were super educating and interesting and I really enjoyed snorkeling for the first time and all that goes along with that. I also really really enjoyed getting to be close to the dolphins during feeding time because it was a good chance to examine their identifying marks.

Sarai: Today I was especially appreciative of our mentors Kathleen and Dr. Kanatous because today was a new experience – the snorkeling. The mentors fostered a lot of trust and that was very important to me.

Kirsten: I was fed a lot of information today in the most positive way. I learned so many things – for example what kids of fish are on the Roatan reefs. I got to practice identifying the dolphins and getting better knowing which dolphin is which by their marks. I learned the answers to some questions about dolphin sleep and I received clarification about dolphin physiology by doing pushups. (Thank you for supplying today’s photo of Lenca and French (on right).)

Nathan: A really eventful day and I think my favorite parts were the fish identification parts. And, we learned all the different signals the trainers use to ask the dolphins to do things. Meredith showed us the baby retrieval signal to ask Bailey to bring Tank back over to her.

Alison: it was really cool this morning when we were with the dolphins – seeing them come up to our group and to see they really wanted to interact with us. And, hearing the trainers talk about the dolphins and to see the types of training they do with the dolphins for enrichment was super cool.

Sean: The morning was alive with color and excitement for a day filled with good work. The data observation group I worked with was great and I appreciated their hard work and diligence to do good observations. The dolphins Bailey, Calli and Sandy (I think) came by our station. Learning the social curiosity and intelligence of these creatures is a privilege and consider it grace to continue to spend time with the RIMS dolphin pod.

Until tomorrow, we look forward to another great day!

Our new moniker is:

Dr. Kanatous’ Kindergartners (aka Roatan Rams 2021)

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Our first day on Roatan at AKR!
23 October 2021

Our first day on Roatan at AKR!

Our first blog entry is everyone’s impressions of the day.

Emily: I’d been to Honduras before but not to this tropical of an area so when I got here it was amazing to see all the trees and the beauty. When we arrived at the resort, my favorite part was meeting the dolphins and seeing how playful they are.

Sarai: I really value biodiversity with people, animals, and plants. And, getting to see something in person is very different from seeing it on a screen – e.g., dolphins. Seeing them up close is very different. And also seeing mangroves is very exciting, especially to see aerial roots. Hanging out with zoology students is very different from how things are normally for me.

Kirsten: At first, I was really nervous because I’m an anxious person. Getting to the airport at 2:30 AM and getting off the plane and going to a new plane and getting delayed and waiting in line for customs’ paperwork were all stressful. Before arriving to AKR, I was not sure if the stress would be worth it but then getting here and seeing the resort and the wildlife and the hermit crabs and the dolphins and the iguanas … it changed my perspective drastically!

Mark: Flying in was beautiful and seeing the coral reef over Belize and how it continued to Roatan was amazing. And to see the dolphins and how interactive they are … and how they look at you took me by surprise, it’s not like my dogs, but more like a person.

Allison: The travel here was very stressful with delays and paperwork scrutiny but getting here was rewarding. Being around the dolphins was interesting because how they interacted with each other and how they paid attention to us was similar to the wolf dogs I work with. It is fun to be here with everyone who is so passionate about what they do.

Ashley: It’s my first time traveling out of the country and 2nd or 3rd time traveling to the beach, ever. It’s been breathtaking to see the scenery and to see dolphins up close for the first time. And I am a shy person so I was worried about talking to people but in this one day I made more connections than I expected. (thank you for the cover photo of the octopus!)

Sean: Navigating the waters of the predeparture airport experience was humbling but a great learning opportunity. Upon arrival, getting to see the beauty of Roatan was also just a great transition from a stagnant covid season. Seeing the dolphins and realizing the opportunity that will be had - career building experience – to learn how to ID them and chat with trainers is a great boon in my future to come.

Brittany: I’ve never been to Honduras before, but it’s been beautiful and the weather is awesome. It was cool to be so close to the dolphins. That was cool. It’s exceeded my expectations.

Alexa: I’ve been in awe by the whole scene – getting here and seeing everything. Seeing where the dolphins are and how close to the wild setting it is. Being on the docks and watching them shows a connection to the dolphins and that the research is a large part of this place – it’s not just focused on tourism.

Nathan: I was anxious at the start of the day and getting the negative covid test but after arriving it was very calming. And even though we only spent 20 min with the dolphins, it set the mood for the trip. It is awesome to walk around the island and to see an octopus – we were watching the sunset by the shore dive beach and it was hanging out by the rocks!

Manon: I would like my luggage please … the young dolphins have grown hugely since January 2020!

Shane: Safe, sound, and we’re off! Everyone was very patient and rolled with the punches.

Cheers

Roatan Rams 2021!

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Travel Prep, Packing, Last Minute Details
23 October 2021

Travel Prep, Packing, Last Minute Details

The week before travel (especially field research and field courses) always feels hectic, even when extra time is set aside to pack, prepare, and just get ready for two weeks of data collection and field courses! This week has been no different. And, the added logistics related to Covid-19 negative tests, vaccination cards, and pre-check registration(s) had all of us double checking our packing lists and paperwork (multiple times!)!

Shane and I coordinated with the CSU student group (who you’ll meet in tomorrow’s blog post) to get everyone’s precheck documentation completed, and to answer any last minute questions. Yeterday morning, I heard from Manon that she arrived yesterday to Roatan and Anthony’s Key Resort (AKR), even though her luggage seems to have taken a detour! And, Manon let me know she went over to Bailey’s Key to see the dolphins and she had a lovely afternoon! I look forward to the same view tomorrow afternoon!

Today is the final packing and preparations, getting boarding passes, getting to the airport (tonight for some of the group, early tomorrow for the rest of us), and just enjoying the buildup of excitement for our first field course of 2021!

Stay tuned over the next two weeks for daily updates from our student groups about their experiences, the dolphins (of course), and our research.

Cheers

Kathleen (soon to be joined by our first group)

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DCP Dolphin Lesson: Dolphin Personalities
23 October 2021

DCP Dolphin Lesson: Dolphin Personalities

 

In this Dolphin Lesson, DCP's friend Dr. Erin joins again! She discusses questions like: Do dolphins have personalities? How do researchers find out? What types of personality characteristics have we seen in dolphins? How does that compare to what personality traits we use to describe humans?

Dolphin Lessons are geared toward ages 6-13, but everyone is welcome. Nothing to do in advance – just tune and enjoy!

You can find more of DCP's webinars here on our website under the Education Tab or you can visit us on YouTube at our channel: Dolphin Communication Project!

 

Original Airdate: 15 June 2021

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DCP Deep Dive: Investigating Strandings in the Sarasota, FL Area
23 October 2021

DCP Deep Dive: Investigating Strandings in the Sarasota, FL Area

*Content warning: images of stranded or dead animals and/or necropsies may be shown during this talk. Examples of animals who did not survive their stranding or injury may be discussed.*

In this Deep Dive, Amber Lea Kincaid, a stranding biologist with Mote Marine Laboratory's Stranding Investigations Program discusses how Mote responds to sick, injured, distressed, and deceased marine mammals and sea turtles in Sarasota, FL, and the surrounding area. Specific cases are highlighted, along with general information about how Mote and their partners use strandings to conserve Florida's protected species.

This program is geared toward ages 14 and up, but all are welcome.

 

Original Airdate: 10 June 2021

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DCP Deep Dive: Driver-barrier foraging--a cooperative technique
23 October 2021

DCP Deep Dive: Driver-barrier foraging--a cooperative technique

In this Deep Dive, Becca Hamilton discusses Driver-Barrier foraging, a unique cooperative foraging tactic used by certain members of the bottlenose dolphin population in Cedar Key, Florida. For her master's thesis, Becca investigated the vocal communication occurring between individuals in order for them to coordinate their efforts in time and space.

This program is geared toward ages 14 and up, but all are welcome.

You can find more DCP DD and DL webinars here on our website under the education menu tab or on our YouTube channel.

Original Airdate: May 27, 2021

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DCP Deep Dive: Monitoring dolphins using whistles
23 October 2021

DCP Deep Dive: Monitoring dolphins using whistles

In this Deep Dive, Emma Longden discusses using bottlenose dolphins’ signature whistles - an individually unique whistle, a bit like a dolphin name - to count the number of individuals in a population. After all, dolphins use a variety of sounds for communication, feeding, and navigation. Scientists can use these sounds to monitor and study their populations.

This program is geared toward ages 14 and up, but all are welcome.

You can find DCP's other, previous webinars here on our website under the education tab, or on YouTube on our channel: Dolphin Communication Project

 

Original Airdate: 13 May 2021

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TGIF – Playful Dolphins and Poor Underwater Visibility
23 October 2021

TGIF – Playful Dolphins and Poor Underwater Visibility

Our last day of data collection began well with a light breeze and little surface chop. Sadly, the underwater visibility was not great – very silty, green water with lots of suspended particulates. Kathleen was able to collect about 25 minutes of video and watched Elli and Lenca play a bit and circled close to Kathleen and the MVA (pictured). Bailey swam by and echolocated on the MVA and Kathleen. Tank and Sandy played chase and keep away off to the side – Kathleen did not really see them underwater this morning.

Still, it was a good day to watch the overall activity of the group – they were spread out and using most of the lagoon area. In the morning and afternoon, Heather and Kathleen were able to collect a few more create sessions with Maury, Gracie, Tilly, Poli, Calli, Bailey, and Elli.

Rachel and Melissa went for a kayak and Heather and Melissa did a couple of snorkels behind Bailey’s Key – they saw many small fish, one “really big fish,” but no octopus! Ron and Bill had a good morning dive. And, we all rinsed and packed gear this afternoon. We depart at varying times tomorrow morning.

This week was productive with 5.5 hours of video data collected on both the MVA camera and the GoPro mounted to the top. We will be kept busy logging the videos to confirm dolphin IDs and then event sampling for our RQ study. And, Kathleen will include a more detailed summary of this week (and plans for her return in ab out a month) in our next issue if the Dolphin Gazette.

Have a great day!

Cheers

The SSRB 2021 Ecotour group!

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Data Collection for 3 Research Projects – and a Rinse from Mother Nature!
23 October 2021

Data Collection for 3 Research Projects – and a Rinse from Mother Nature!

Our second to last day of research and observations was full! We collected MVA data this morning. We had several create sessions with Teri and Maury, Tilly, Gracie, Bailey, Callie, Elli, and Poli throughout the day. And, throughout the week we’ve confirmed the revised details for collecting “space use data” in the main lagoon by the dolphins. The space use data are collected during DCP eco-tours and our field courses with college students. Our grid (thank you Melissa for the more accurate division of the main lagoon) is much more “user-friendly.” The female dolphins are doing well on their create testing – i.e., we ask them to do “something new” in the session … and not repeat behaviors. It is exciting to see what they come up with and we definitely can see the dolphins thinking about what to do!

I (Kathleen) had two data collection sessions this morning – one with all dolphins in the main lagoon and then a second one after the trainers arrived with 12 of the dolphins in the main lagoon (the others were doing various training sessions in the back areas). It was the mom/calf pairs and a few subadult and adult female dolphins. Tank, Sandy, and Buzz hung out with each other for a while and circle swam Kathleen several times. Maury must have been giving Rocky a “time out” because he was not allowed to leave her side! Sandy even wagged her tongue at Kathleen and Tank (pictured on front)!

And, at one point, Tilly swam ventral up with Rocky and Sandy next to her, also swimming belly up!

Buzz was investigating Kathleen’s fins and the MVA and seemed to be trying to figure out what the green thing (MVA) was! Near the end of this session, Alita, Bailey, Tilly, and Elli all swam by me as a group.

Bill and Ron did a morning dive and, on their way to the dock, the skies opened and the threatening thunderstorm descended upon us! The rain was heavy but not long-lived: after about an hour, most of the rain squall had passed us by. Enough for us all to get a bit wet but not horrible in a warm climate.

Tomorrow is our last morning for MVA data collection. We will also collect a few more create sessions. And, likely also have another kayak adventure or two.

Until then,

Cheers

The SSRB 2021 Ecotour group!

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Happy Cinco de Mayo!
23 October 2021

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

We began our day at Bailey’s Key with flashes of “My Octopus Teacher” … there was an octopus in the shallow area to the side of the dock as we walked out to the platform for Kathleen’s entry to observe the dolphins. The octopus was stretched out and multi-colored – we really received a show. It was wonderful to watch! It was a nice way to begin a session observing animal behavior!

The morning session was good despite the heavy rainfall between 3 and 5 AM. The underwater visibility was less than the last few days but the dolphins were social and playful with each other. Only Stan seemed to prefer my fins to his dolphin buddies! Lenca spent quite a bit of time with his younger brother, Buzz (cover photo)! Usually, the male dolphins play with other males and the subadult (aka teenager) female dolphins babysit (aka alloparent) the calves. (Kathleen sure hopes that Lenca was not pointing out her fins to Buzz as a new toy!)

A second morning session brought our total MVA data for today to an hour and the second session saw the mother/calf pairs socializing with their calves having a sort of play date. Sandy and Rocky were pec fin rubbing and chasing each other through the shallow area with sea grass covering. Elli and Poli each took turns circle swimming Kathleen and then swimming with each other or with Calli, Gracie, or Tilly.

Ron and Bill had two great boat dives and Heather and Melissa took advantage of the zip line excursion and met a sloth, several capuchin monkeys, and a few parrots.

Our afternoon rounded out with create data collection sessions with Maury, Calli, Poli, Bailey, Ronnie, and Ritchie. Watching the dolphins ponder “what to do new” is very fun and to see what they come up with even better!

A late afternoon snorkel finished the day just before a last kayak between Bailey’s and Anthony’s keys.

Let’s see what tomorrow will bring!

Cheers

The SSRB 2021 Ecotour group!

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DCP Dolphin Lesson: Q&A with Dr. Kathleen (Live from Roatan!)
23 October 2021

DCP Dolphin Lesson: Q&A with Dr. Kathleen (Live from Roatan!)

In this Dolphin Lesson, DCP's Director, Dr. Kathleen Dudzinski, discusses her research in general and specifically with bottlenose dolphins at the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences. Several dolphins even make an appearance!

This program is geared toward ages 6-13, but all will enjoy it!

You can check out our other webinars here on the DCP website under the Education tab! Or, at our YouTube channel - subscribe today.

Original airdate: 4 May 2021

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More Data Collection, a DCP webinar, and some snorkeling!
23 October 2021

More Data Collection, a DCP webinar, and some snorkeling!

Our day started EARLY – most of us woke early and watched the sunrise (~5:15 AM). Our first observation session was preceded by space-use data collection. This brings our total number of research projects this week to three: behavior observations with the MVA, collecting creativity data on the female dolphins, and recording how dolphins use their lagoon and the various spaces in this lagoon.

There was a lot of object play during the first AM session and the dolphins actually showed interest in our surface observers (Bill, Ron, Rachel & Heather). The dolphins also were more vocal – with whistles and click trains audible even above the water surface.

Breakfast followed our session – we’d be remiss if we did not have at least one mention of the delicious food we’ve been eating all week!

The DCP webinar went off without any glitches from Bailey’s Key. I (Kathleen) connected with Kel, Nicole, and our audience to share a bit about our research here and to showcase the dolphins. While answering questions from participants, we got to show our viewers Ronnie, Ritchie and Champ, Lenca, Stan and then Bailey and Tank and Sandy and Tilly. There were several programs ongoing so we moved around a bit! It was fun!

Our second MVA session was short – about 17 minutes. But it was with the mom/calf pairs and a few adult females. I was able to watch Maury and Rocky, Bailey and Tank, Tilly and Sandy, and Alita and Buzz (pictured) as they exchanged some pec rubs and other contact behaviors – very cool!

The afternoon brought more opportunity to collect create data for the female dolphins. Bill and Ron did two scuba dives today and saw a toad fish, some rays and lots of small fish. The bear’s den was their afternoon dive and we had to ask if they saw any bears! (nope) Heather, Melissa, and Rachel went snorkeling on the west side of Bailey’s Key where they saw many juvenile fish, a worm (TBD), a barracuda, a trunk fish and many more different fish. It was late in the day and all three were getting tired. Thus, the night snorkel this evening was postponed. Dinner was yummy and we have now wrapped up copying and transferring our video data to back-up drives.

We look forward to more data collection and sunny skies tomorrow.

Cheers

The SSRB 2021 Ecotour group!

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Early Morning Observations and Several Create Sessions!
23 October 2021

Early Morning Observations and Several Create Sessions!

We had a very busy day! It began with an early morning observation session and included a second morning session about 1.5 hours later. During the first session, the dolphins were again silent except for echolocation clicks that seemed to be “whispered” at me when I was in the northeast corner of the lagoon area (near the water taxi arrival area). The dolphins were very focused on “something” (what we don’t know) off the reef to the north of Bailey’s and Anthony’s Keys. As with yesterday, all the mom/calf pairs were together and Poli spent some time with Maury and Rocky (shown). French, Stan, and Lenca were enamored of my fins!

The second session had a smaller group because Ronnie, Ritchie, Champ, Lenca, and Stan were in the back area engaged in some husbandry training sessions. Calli and Poli were doing a practice boat follow for offshore dive practice. So, our second session included primarily the mom/calf pairs and French. It was a calm session with some of the trainers also cleaning the sides of one of the covered platforms of algae growth.

The afternoon brought two sessions for data collection with our create study – with Maury, Bailey, Poli, Tilly, Callie and Gracie in individual sessions. They’ve come a long way from two years ago and regularly show their personalities with the number of new behaviors they present.

It was a very good day! Ron and Bill also had a couple of great boat dives with tarpon seen for their first time! They also saw some turtles and spotted eagle rays and got to swim along with a current on one of the drift dives. Heather and Melissa hiked to the top of a nearby botanical garden mountain. It gave them an aerial view of Anthony’s Key; however, they could not see me waiving from Bailey’s Key as their view was blocked by a palm tree! Rachel assisted with data collection and had lots of fun watching the dolphins play with each other and with some of the floating seed pods.

Tomorrow brings us more data collection opportunities!

Until then,

Cheers

The SSRB 2021 Ecotour group!

 

P.S. Bill’s feline friend, Polly, greeted him yesterday. Bill brought kitty treats with him and now Polly visits us each AM and PM!

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Two Data Collection Sessions and a Birthday!
23 October 2021

Two Data Collection Sessions and a Birthday!

We celebrated Melissa’s birthday after dinner with a delicious chocolate cake! Of course, that also meant that the rest of us had to clandestinely sign the birthday card when Melissa was not around (thank you to Heather for capturing our sneaky signing!).

Celebrating Melissa’s birthday was a great way to wrap up our first full day at AKR!

We had two data collection sessions with Champ the first to swim by my MVA and “say” hello. He made several circle swims around my camera in the first morning session.

The underwater visibility was very good today. The unusual thing this morning was that no one came to “greet” me on my first entry. This was a bit unusual but also confirmed that the dolphins were into their own thing and I could observe their exchanges without being involved (so to speak). All the mom/calf pairs (young and older calves) were together in the first session. And the older males were swimming in and around everyone else. The other unique observation from the first session was that it was silent! No dolphin vocals were audible to me or recorded on my MVA. We’ll have to look at the video a bit more to see if we can figure out why.

The second session was just after noon and the visibility was still quite good. There was a bit more socializing and some splashing between French and Lenca and Ronnie and Stan. The calves were a bit more exploratory.

Melissa and Heather did some kayaking and snorkeling. Bill and Ron (participant, not dolphin!) enjoyed two dives each today and Rachel helped me with some dolphin ID confirmation observations. It was a productive day!

Here’s to a good evening and another great day tomorrow.

Cheers

The SSRB 2021 Ecotour group!

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Return to Roatan and AKR … and the dolphins!
23 October 2021

Return to Roatan and AKR … and the dolphins!

DCP's first ecotour group since the COVID-19 pandemic derailed life as we all know it returned to Roatan and Anthony’s Key Resort today. (insert sigh of relief here!)

We traveled from California (Bill), Texas (Melissa, Rachel, Heather), Missouri (Ron), and Florida (me) … and even though travel was long and mostly normal, it was still a travel day! And we were all glad to return to AKR.

It was a bit windy this afternoon and early evening, but the sun was shining and the sea calm. And Heather and I went over the Bailey’s to greet the dolphins. They were pre-occupied with an encounter program (Ronnie and Ritchie were doing an encounter!), but it was still delightful to see them. We chatted with Teri and Eldon and Denry, Jason, Cain, Zach, and Meredith. Rona and Rocky are growing fast!

We will begin a first data collection session at 7 AM tomorrow (that's late since the sun rises at 5:20 AM!). I am looking forward to making observations and collecting data. I still have to finish connecting the hydrophones to the MVA and charging the camera batteries. So, until tomorrow, have a delightful evening!

Oh yes! Our group decided on our moniker for the week and the photo reflects all of us on our way to dinner tonight.

The Sexy Sextuplet Roatan or Bust 2021 ecotour!

(aka: SSRB 2021)

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DCP Deep Dive: Can We Recognize Emotions in Bottlenose Dolphins?
23 October 2021

DCP Deep Dive: Can We Recognize Emotions in Bottlenose Dolphins?

In this Deep Dive, Emma Warner discusses her research into whether humans can recognize emotional expression and body language in bottlenose dolphins using a method called Qualitative Behavioural Assessment (QBA). Emma also delves into how this type of assessment can serve as a potential welfare indicator for investigating dolphin well-being under human care.

This program is geared toward ages 14 and up, but all will enjoy it!

You can watch DCP's other webinars here our website or you can visit our YouTube channel (cleverly titled: Dolphin Communication Project)!

You can also visit Emma's Deep Dives for more from today's webinar speaker! And, Emma is also on Instagram and FaceBook as @Emmasdeepdives

And, Happy Earth Day 2021!

 

Original Air date: 22 April 2021

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DCP Deep Dive: Dolphin Mouths – not just for eating!
23 October 2021

DCP Deep Dive: Dolphin Mouths – not just for eating!

 

In this Deep Dive, Dr. Erin Frick of Eckerd College returns to the DCP lineup. This time, she discusses studying the function of behavior, focusing on her research on bottlenose dolphins using their mouths to communicate visually, acoustically, and tactilely. Mouthing behavior is not always a simple message – context matters!

This program is geared toward ages 14 and up, but all will enjoy the program!

Original Airdate: 8 April 2021

 

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DCP Dolphin Lesson: Plastic Free Seas
23 October 2021

DCP Dolphin Lesson: Plastic Free Seas

In this Dolphin Lesson, Ms. MaryEllen, from Mystic Aquarium, discusses plastic pollution, which is found in almost every marine habitat around the world. From plastic bags, straws, and balloons that are carried hundreds of miles through watersheds to the items that are found directly along the coastal; this presentation explores how plastics enter the waterways, the impact of plastics on marine species, and efforts to address this global problem. You’ll take away both individual and collective actions that be taken now to reduce additional plastic pollution!

This program is geared toward ages 6-13, but all will enjoy it!

You can check out our other webinars here on the DCP website under the Education tab!

Original airdate: 6 April 2021

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DCP Deep Dive: Immune Function and Diving: new considerations in marine mammal health and conservation
23 October 2021

DCP Deep Dive: Immune Function and Diving: new considerations in marine mammal health and conservation

 

In this Deep Dive, Dr. Laura Thompson, Research Scientist at Mystic Aquarium, talks about her unique research linking dive behavior and health, by studying immune responses in marine mammals. While Dr. Thompson focuses on beluga research, she also talks about the recent renewed interest in dive physiology, and how understanding the link between behavior and health in diving mammals can help inform conservation concerns in changing ocean environments … and can even benefit human health!

If Dr. Thompson’s webinar sparks an interest to learn more about marine mammal diving, then check out the DCP Deep Dive webinar from May 2020, by Dr. David Rosen. The link to DCP’s web site is here and the link to DCP’s YouTub channel is here for Dr. Rosen's webinar.

Today's program on immune function and diving is geared toward ages 14 and up, but all are welcome and will enjoy the program.

Original Airdate: 25 March 2021

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DCP Deep Dive: To Touch or Not To Touch – The Quirks of Beluga Contact
23 October 2021

DCP Deep Dive: To Touch or Not To Touch – The Quirks of Beluga Contact

In this Deep Dive, DCP’s good friend Dr. Heather Hill answers questions like, How do belugas contact one another? How do belugas use contact in their social interactions? Are there any differences between wild belugas and belugas in human care? Dr. Hill is a comparative psychologist and full professor of psychology at St. Mary’s University who likes to study marine mammal behavior and cognition.

This program is geared toward ages 14 and up, but all will enjoy it.

You can also listen to other DCP webinars here on our website under the Education tab or on our YouTube channel.

 

Original Airdate: February 25, 2020

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DCP Dolphin Lesson: Dolphin Adaptations
23 October 2021

DCP Dolphin Lesson: Dolphin Adaptations

Why are dolphins shaped that way? How do they keep water out of their blowholes? Join us for a rundown of some awesome dolphin adaptations!

This program is geared toward ages 6-13, but all are welcome. Check out the details and see which is your favorite adaptation!

Missed our earlier webinars? Check out the previous DCP webinar recordings on YouTube here. Or find the other webinars under the Education tab on the DCP web page here.

 

Original Airdate: 16 February 2021

 

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DCP Deep Dive: Sea Turtle Conservation
23 October 2021

DCP Deep Dive: Sea Turtle Conservation

In this Deep Dive, DCP is joined by Kat DeStefano. A professional SCUBA diver since 2005, volunteer and seasonal staff at New England Aquarium Rescue Rehab department for 10 years, and DCP alum (Intern class of 2003-04), Kat has been studying marine animal behavior anecdotally for 20 years. Kat covers basic sea turtle biology and species ID (with a focus on Caribbean species), as well as the rehab and conservation of the Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle.

This program is geared toward ages 14 and up, but all will enjoy Kat's presentation and stories.

Check out more webinars from DCP here on the Education tab of our website or on our YouTube channel (Dolphin Communication Project!)

Original Airdate: February 11, 2020

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DCP Deep Dive: Social Network Analysis
23 October 2021

DCP Deep Dive: Social Network Analysis

In this Deep Dive, DCP is joined by Dr. Nicole (DCP post-doc at FIU). She gives a general introduction to social network analysis, a technique Nicole used to understand the Bimini spotted dolphin social system. She briefly shows how the technique can be used to compare the different types of data that we collect from the dolphins and how this type of analysis can help us better understand relationships between individuals.

This program is geared toward ages 14 and up, but all should enjoy the topic and the presentation.

Check out more webinars here on DCP's website (www.dolphincommunicationproject.org) under our Education tab! Or check out DCP on YouTube for our webinars, also!

 

Original Airdate: January 28, 2021

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Summary and Travel!
23 October 2021

Summary and Travel!

This has been a very productive week here at Anthony’s Key Resort (AKR) and The Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences (RIMS) for me and DCP. With Ron’s assistance, I was able to collect about 6.5 hours of video data with the MVA and GoPro cameras. (I’ll be busy for a few months logging these clips!) The weather mostly held for us – the underwater visibility was great and the current strength was variable (I earned my breakfast most mornings!). It was wonderful (invigorating and reviving) to see the dolphins at Bailey’s Key but also to touch base with the people at AKR and RIMS. And, to know that folks are not just surviving the global pandemic but doing well. The safety protocols in place are focused on making sure all visitors and staff remain healthy and safe – from maintained social distancing and mask wearing to numerous hand sanitizer stations (and more).

I look forward to returning to Roatan this spring with groups and to resuming our research and education programs to share with students and eco-tour participants the wonders of our natural world, especially from the underwater perspective.

Until then,

Kathleen & Ron

P.S. this blog's cover photo was from the early morning session yesterday ... a great way to remember this week here at AKR/RIMS!

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Last Two Data Collection Sessions for January 2021!
23 October 2021

Last Two Data Collection Sessions for January 2021!

Our last day of data collection went well, with the exception that the stronger current was back. Thus, I got a good workout with each underwater session! The day was full of play – moms with their calves, young dolphins (both male and female) were wrestling again, and there was seaweed and seagrass play, too! I was invited a few times to play with seagrass, and it was tempting, but I remained the observer to collect the video. I.e., I try to remain an impartial observer when recording video data.

Ron’s dive in the afternoon was to Pete’s Place – lots of fish and lots of sponges. It was walls, canyons, channels – a mixed reef topography.

The afternoon was spent cleaning and drying gear, packing the MVA and other gear in prep for tomorrow’s travel day. It’s been a week – but it went by swiftly and feels shorter than the 7 days! I’ll have a summary tomorrow before travel.

Cheers

Kathleen & Ron

 

P.S. oops … sorry not to have posted this blog late yesterday!

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Mostly Dry Surface Observation Sessions Today!
23 October 2021

Mostly Dry Surface Observation Sessions Today!

It is amazing how swiftly we can get into a pattern … early morning coffee, plus pastry, then data collection (twice) followed by logging notes, lunch, and then an afternoon dive for Ron and video review for me. This is a pattern I welcome!! And, one we have followed each day this week. Once more tomorrow …

I was greeted by continued good underwater visibility, though there was a bit of freshwater from an early rain squall at the surface. Several dolphins greeted me on entry (see cover photo of Stan, Tank, Champ, Elli, Lenca). This morning’s data collection also featured several “wrestle” sessions among the dolphins. Usually, it’s 3-4 male dolphins rolling all over each other while periodically mounting each other and chasing each other. Lots of whitewater and bubbles are associated with these events! Elli and Poli also joined in several of these bouts this morning. In these photos you can see a bit of the wrestling and also Elli, Stan and Tank!

The mom/calf pairs stayed away from the fray of these rambunctious younger dolphins. Still, I was able to observe Sandy and Tilly doing a bit more hunting and fish chasing. And, Alita and Rona were social – Alita was nudging Rona along and they also shared some pectoral fin contacts. I spent a total of ~45 minutes observing the dolphins during this first morning session. Once out on the platform, I usually spend a few minutes observing any of the dolphins who come by. As I was doing this, I heard a loud splash … thinking a dolphin leaped nearby, I scanned in front me … but nothing. Not even a ripple. Then, I heard the security guard yelling … and turned around to see Ron bobbing in the water adjacent to the dock! He’d spied what he thought was a Styrofoam ball and tried to retrieve it only to lose his balance. The item was biodegradable and turned out to be a pealed pineapple! Ron’s ego was the only thing bruised during this incident as he walked out of the shallow water. Ron has the distinction of being the only person to accidentally fall into the water – in a back holding area – during a DCP eco-tour to AKR/RIMS!

The second morning observation session was shorter because the visibility decreased. This gave us more time to log the surface observations/data and then review the video footage. Neat stuff!

Lunch was delicious and Ron’s dive was “shitty” … but not because of what you might think … I was confused when he returned with a huge smile … and told me the dive was “shitty” in response to my query “how was your dive?” Turns out, the dive site is called “Green Door Outhouse Reef!” The outhouse is no longer present having been dispatched by a hurricane of the past. But, the site was originally named because of a vivid green door on an outhouse along the shore for where this reef is. Ron tells me it is often a night-dive spot. They saw a turtle, scorpion toad fish, crabs, a grouper at a cleaning station, French angle fish, and many more along the wall that makes up the reef in this spot. Everyone had a great time!

Tonight’s dinner was Fiesta Night, which is typically a buffet dinner with fun activities on Anthony’s Key. Because of social distancing, dinner was in the dining room and there were no activities … still, the dinner was BBQ and very delicious! Some guests chatted, from 6+ feet away as the tables are spaced, which was not quite the same as the limbo contest or crab races. It was a good evening.

Tomorrow is my last day for data collection on this trip. Until then,

Cheers

Kathleen & Ron

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A Sunny Morning, No Current, and Social Dolphins!
23 October 2021

A Sunny Morning, No Current, and Social Dolphins!

The morning was very quiet and I woke early to greet the day and watch the sun brighten the sky! I also watched an Egret get breakfast before we prepped for data collection. I was delighted by nearly zero current during our first observation this morning. Of course, I think some of the dolphins took every advantage of the clear water and no current because there were rough-and-tumble social groups in several spots in the lagoon at the same time. Ron filled two slates this morning with his notes! Stan, Champ, and Tank alternated playing with each other and with my fins. Lenca spent much of the morning with Lenca, which was fine by me. I also watched Calli and Poli take turns with Rocky and Rona, the newest additions. Maury and Alita hovered nearby whenever their calves were with someone else. Tilly did more hunting today … I am not sure what she might have seen, nor the fish she might have stirred up but then neither were a few other dolphins as they checked out the coral head Tilly focused on … seemingly to no avail! (see photo)

The second session was a bit more “quiet” behaviorally because French, Champ, Lenca, and Stan were in the back area working on other training behaviors. It was pleasant to swim without someone pulling at my fins! And, I was pleased to be able to spend a bit of time observing Gracie, Ritchie and Ronnie … the latter two also spent a bit of time interested in Tilly. Sandy and Tank spent some time wrestling in the middle of the lagoon area while Poli alloparented Rocky and Bailey swam with Rona. The morning yielded more than an hour of video in two sessions. The visibility was so good that I know we’ll be able to log and confirm IDs of dolphins in the foreground and background of these videos!

The afternoon was punctuated by a heavy downpour that lasted about 30-40 minutes but was during lunch. It did not impede Ron’s afternoon dive. They went Gibson’s Bight and the rain did not impact the visibility poorly. Ron said they saw three seahorses, several eels and at the end of the dive a sea turtle made an appearance.

Our afternoon was spent reviewing the video and planning for tomorrow’s day … more of the same! Data collection and diving.

Until then,

Cheers

Kathleen & Ron

 

P.S. For all our previous student and eco-tour participants, we would be lacking if we did not mention the delicious meals! Tonight’s was vegetable sea bass … which meant the fish was baked with a covering of vegetables that gave a succulent flavor!

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Peak-a-boo Sunshine with Social Dolphins!
23 October 2021

Peak-a-boo Sunshine with Social Dolphins!

The morning dawned calm with a slight breeze and I experienced a mild current and good visibility underwater. I was a happy dolphin researcher! Ron was also happy to stay dry while logging surface observations. And, there was much social activity above the water, as well as below the surface this morning! Of course, Lenca, Stan, Champ, and Tank repeated their fascination with my fins but I was VERY surprised by Ronnie’s behavior early in the first morning session! Ronnie seemed to get agitated with Stan when the latter was pulling at my fins. So much so that Ronnie chased Stan away from me and then swam a circle around me … almost as if to say “there, you’ve a few minutes of peace!” Of course, I am being very anthropomorphic with that sentiment. But, if you’ve followed along with my blogs from RIMS over the years, you will know that Ronnie has always been fascinated by my fins … until this session! Ronnie and Ritchie spent the remainder of the morning following Gracie. The photo you see is of Ritchie (left) and Ronnie (right) behind Stan, who is looking at me! (i.e., pre-chase!)

This morning also brought two intriguing observations of Tilly. The first had her contort in the water and “kick at the water” somewhat close to a shallow coral head – cavitating a few tiny air bubbles from the water. She did this a few times and, at the last one, I saw what might have been “fish bits” (I need to check the video to be sure.) Along with this same type of behavior, Tilly and Sandy were “puffing” water at a different coral head to push at the fish, or so it seemed. I shared those observations with Teri and she said that Tilly and Sandy like to hunt for crabs and tiny fish. It was a hoot! The second observation of Tilly was about 2/3 through the first morning session and I noticed a dolphin up-side-down at the surface and slapping her right pec fin on the surface. Ron noted this action too and I was able to confirm that it was Tilly … and she swam about 100 m from one side of the lagoon toward the other doing this behavior! No idea why but she finished and swam back by me underwater with Sandy above her. Very cool!

Ron did the early afternoon dive again while I transferred footage and reviewed some of the clips. I also got a chance to briefly chat with Teri about our research plans and we’ll continue that conversation a bit each day this week. And, the sun made more of an appearance this afternoon requiring me to apply sunblock! Hurray!!

Tomorrow morning will start with our sixth underwater data collection session. My fingers are crossed for continued good underwater visibility and calm seas, as well as socializing dolphins who might consider ignoring me!

Until then,

Cheers

Kathleen & Ron

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Drizzle, Rain, Downpour! With good underwater visibility and dolphins!
23 October 2021

Drizzle, Rain, Downpour! With good underwater visibility and dolphins!

It might have been raining topside, but the underwater visibility was great! And, the dolphins were playful! While it’s true that Lenca, Stan, Tank, and Champ thought my fins were their long-lost toys, the dolphins also had fun playing with the seaweed and sea grasses. The current was still there and moving the flora along at a swift pace. Calli, Lenca, and Bailey each tried to entice me to play seaweed fetch, or maybe toss, with them! It was hard to decline, but I did until just before I got out and the MVA was on the platform. Then, we shared a toss or two.

Ronnie and Ritchie still have their sights set on Gracie, who made a few slow passes by me in the deeper water. Bailey seemed to toggle between her son, Tank, who was very interested in my fins, and Rona with Alita nearby. French and Champ spent much time together with a few chases and several passes by me.

My second session of the morning was about 1.5 hours after the first one and the weather was much the same, with the exception that it was a downpour! Thankfully, Ron had his rain poncho and was able to continue with surface observations. The underwater visibility was less than earlier and the top foot was blurry from the rain. Still, it was a second good session with much social behavior observed and recorded!

Ron did a dive this afternoon while I logged the footage from the morning and began sketching the dolphin ID sheets for this session. The dive was nice (Melissa’s Reef) despite being a bit surge-y depending on the depth over the reef. And, Ron was glad to get back in the water, since his last dive was January 2020 – pre-COVID 19!

The rain lessened by late afternoon and we have high hopes for a drier day (at least morning?) tomorrow. Data collection will begin at 7:30 AM, as it did today … and maybe we’ll have good visibility and a slackened current. (fingers crossed!)

Until then,

Cheers

Kathleen & Ron

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Wind, Current, Data Collection, Ron’s Arrival
23 October 2021

Wind, Current, Data Collection, Ron’s Arrival

I had a slow morning that was punctuated by clouds, gusty winds from the North, and a REALLY strong current! I woke early to assemble the MVA and prep my gear for the first session of data collection in 2021. Since Ron arrived in the afternoon, I waited to conduct my first underwater session until after the training team arrived and moved dolphins around and fed breakfast. It was a good feeling to observe the dolphins from the dock AND remember everyone … there are a few new rakes on a few individuals, which I’ll share as the week progresses. This view is Sandy and Tilly – Sandy is more to the right and you can see a few healing rakes on her back. They were chasing each other near the corner dock while I watched. I also saw them underwater several times but the underwater visibility was less than 2 m and quite silty. I spent an equal amount of time swimming against the current as I did observing dolphins this morning! (you can see the grass flowing in the current near Sandy in this blog’s photo!) Still, I saw just about everyone in the main lagoon: Gracie was often flanked by Ronnie and Ritchie while Bailey played with Rona and Alita and Tank and Calli got reacquainted with my fins and the MVA face plate! I also watched Champ and Stan play and chase each other a bit. Even though the current gave me a work out and the silty visibility means IDs will be a challenge, it was rejuvenating to collect data!

Ron arrived about mid-afternoon and his trip presented a few more challenges than did mine! His negative covid results paperwork was not quite “official” looking but he was able to get a faxed copy with more details. He had a connection through Houston on his way to Roatan, so his day was long but overall it was a long but good day. And, he finished by arriving to AKR in time for a late lunch. Ron’s impression of the safety protocols here on Roatan are like mine … very well done and people seem to adhere to the policies and protocols mostly. I’ve not seen folks without masks when social distancing is not an option (e.g., indoors). Even the water taxi boats here at AKR are limiting the number of people per trip to maintain social distancing. It still feels odd to me that mask wearing and social distancing seem to transcend culture. It drives home the global nature of the pandemic and how people are pulling together to address the situation.

The wind and current are supposed to lessen a bit tomorrow … we hope! As it’s just Ron and me, we’ll head over to Bailey’s Key at about 7:30 AM.

It had become a sort of tradition over the last 5-6 years to begin each new year with time at AKR and RIMS. I am fortunate to be about to continue this tradition in 2021!

Until tomorrow,

Kathleen & Ron

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Travel Stress Relieved with Tank’s Smile
23 October 2021

Travel Stress Relieved with Tank’s Smile

I am back on at Anthony’s Key Resort (AKR) tonight! It was a great way to wrap up a stressful week! And, my afternoon was complete with a visit to Bailey’s Key to say hello to old friends! Tank was swimming with Bailey and gave me a smile along the way! He has a few new notches in his dorsal fin … maybe from rough play with Stan, Lenca, and Champ?? Speaking of them, Lenca and Champ have grown!! And, Sandy is not the small calf I remember from last year’s video data! I also got to meet Maury’s and Alita’s calves. It was a banner day!

And, it was just as delightful and stress-relieving to see Teri, Eldon, Zach, Gerard, Cain, Meredith, Elyork, and the other trainers, as well as the AKR team members. It felt odd not to give everyone a big hug but to greet with fits bumps and masked faces. But, that’s the sign of the times.

I must admit that even though there are a few more hoops to jump through for travel from the US to Roatan, they are quite straightforward: 1) get a RAPID COVID-19 test (negative) within 72 hrs of travel; 2) complete the online pre-visit form for Honduras; 3) complete the Honduras customs form online (and be sure to have printed copies of all three documents). I also did my registration for AKR online so my arrival was even more effortless than in past!

John took me to Miami and, after not having traveled by airplane in 8 months, I arrived 3.5 hrs early! But, that’s ok. The line was non-existent and before checking in at the terminal, I had to present my 3 forms (see above). Check in was a breeze (thank you American Airlines!) and then TSA check went smoothly, too. Everyone was wearing a mask and actually socially distancing. People were polite, friendly.

As you can see, the gate area was all mine when I got there … but even before boarding the gate area did not get crowded with the plane about half full. Boarding was orderly and smooth. And, it was great to see Roatan from the plane ... and the very flat, calm sea!

Not everyone followed directions for deplaning as they flight attendants asked us to go row by row to facilitate social distancing … but it was not a jab-fest either. So, no complaints there. And, going through immigration at the Roatan airport was also orderly with social distance lines and spacing very clearly outlined on the floors and hand-sanitizer offered in several locations.

AKR is also promoting mask wearing and social distancing. I’ll share more of these details as the week progresses … my day began at 4:30 AM and … well, I’m pooped and will start early to prep the MVA and get ready for my first data collection session at about 8:30 or so! Woohoo!

The underwater visibility looked wonderful today … I can hardly wait!

Ron also arrives tomorrow to assist with data collection so I will share his impressions of travel and beginning 2021 with a week at AKR and RIMS!

Until then,

Cheers

Kathleen

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DCP Dolphin Lesson: Two Truths & A Lie
23 October 2021

DCP Dolphin Lesson: Two Truths & A Lie

Can you spot the tall tails?!
Wrap up 2020 with this fun Dolphin Lesson - we're sure dolphin lovers of all ages will enjoy it!
Happy Holidays to folks!!

Missed our earlier webinars? Check out the recordings here on DCP's YouTube channel.
Or on the education page of our website: www.dolphincommunicationproject.org

Original airdate: 15 December 2020

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DCP Deep Dive: Impacts of Contaminants on Marine Mammals
23 October 2021

DCP Deep Dive: Impacts of Contaminants on Marine Mammals

In this Deep Dive, DCP is joined by Dr. Annalisa Zaccaroni, Associate Professor, Department of Veterinary Medical Sciences, University of Bologna, Italy.

Dr. Zaccaroni gives a general view on the known impacts that contaminants have on marine mammals. Additionally, she provides a brief look at the impact of marine litter and algal toxins, as well as the impacts of petroleum on animals in the marine environment.

You can also learn more about potential oil drilling in The Bahamas at this link.

This webinar deep dive program is geared toward ages 14 and up, but all are welcome to listen and learn. You can learn more about other topics in DCP's webinar series here on our YouTube channel or on our website (www.dolphincommunicationproject.org), here in the education tab.

Original Airdate: 10 December 2020

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DCP Dolphin Lesson: What’s it like to be a Zookeeper?
23 October 2021

DCP Dolphin Lesson: What’s it like to be a Zookeeper?

In this Dolphin Lesson, DCP is joined by Sunna Edberg, senior zookeeper at Kolmarden Wildlife Park in Sweden. Sunna shares how it is to work as a keeper in a large zoo in Sweden. The joy and fulfillment of connecting with animals and the knowledge necessary behind it.

Dolphin Lessons are geared toward ages 6-13, but everyone is welcome. Nothing to do in advance – just tune and listen to the information Sunna shares!

Missed our earlier webinars? Check out our other webinar recordings here on DCP's website or on DCP's YouTube channel.

 

Original Airdate: November 17, 2020

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DCP Deep Dive: Listening Underwater: Using Passive Acoustics to Investigate Dolphins Habitat Use
23 October 2021

DCP Deep Dive: Listening Underwater: Using Passive Acoustics to Investigate Dolphins Habitat Use

In this Deep Dive, DCP is joined by Valeria Paz, a PhD candidate at Florida International University, where she has been studying the ecology of bottlenose dolphins in the Florida Everglades since 2014.

Valeria explains how she is using passive acoustic technology to better understand the habitat use of bottlenose dolphins in the Florida Everglades estuary.

Curious about the other study Valeria references in her talk (other researchers' passive acoustic studies after hurricanes)? Download Fandel et al. ("Effects of intense storm events on dolphin occurance and foraging behavior") by clicking here.

This program is geared toward ages 14 and up, but all are welcome. You can find other DCP Deep Dive and Dolphin Lesson webinars on our website under the Education menu item in webinars or on DCP's YouTube channel.

 

Original airdate: November 12, 2020

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DCP Deep Dive: Shoulders with Bernd & Melany Würsig
23 October 2021

DCP Deep Dive: Shoulders with Bernd & Melany Würsig

Whose shoulders have you relied on? Family? Mentors? Partner(s)? Join Dr. Bernd and Melany Würsig on a reflection of their journey into and through the marine mammal field.

This program is geared toward ages 14 and up, but all are welcome. Before or after watching the webinar, you can find Bernd’s contribution to the Historical Perspectives series from the journal, Aquatic Mammals (2018, volume 44, issue 6: www.aquaticmammalsjournal.org)

And, you can check out DCP’s other webinars on our YouTube channel or on the Webinar page under Education on our website.

 

Original airdate: November 5, 2020

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DCP Dolphin Lesson: Help! These Dolphins Need Spots!
23 October 2021

DCP Dolphin Lesson: Help! These Dolphins Need Spots!

In this Dolphin Lesson, DCP talks about the Atlantic spotted dolphins and participants can practice finding their spot patterns. This program builds upon previous Dolphin Lessons: Intro to Photo-ID, How to Draw a Dolphin, and Meet the Dolphins. Participants will be able to follow along whether they have viewed the past programs or not.

Dolphin Lessons are geared toward ages 6-13, but everyone is welcome. Nothing to do in advance – just tune and follow along! If you’d like, you can download a basic dolphin sketch to add spots to during the Dolphin Lesson.

Missed our earlier webinars? Check them out here on DCP's website or on DCP's YouTube channel.

Original airdate: 3 November 2020

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DCP Deep Dive: Shark-Dolphin Interactions Down Under
23 October 2021

DCP Deep Dive: Shark-Dolphin Interactions Down Under

In this webinar, Dr. Michael Heithaus, Dean, College of Arts, Sciences & Education at Florida International University, explores the lives of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins of Shark Bay, Western Australia and how their lives are influenced by tiger sharks.

This program is geared toward ages 14 and up, but all will enjoy it. If you’d like to get some additional background, check out one of Dr. Heithaus’ articles at this link.

You can also check out DCP’s other webinars on our YouTube Channel or here on DCP’s website under the education tab (www.dolphincommunicationproject.org).

 

Original Airdate: October 22, 2020

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Contact Us

Write to us via snail-mail at:

Dolphin Communication Project
P.O. Box 7485
Port St. Lucie, FL, 34985
USA

Email us:

info {at} dcpmail {dot} org

THE DOLPHIN COMMUNICATION PROJECT CHARITABLE SOLICITATION NUMBER CH42894, MEETS ALL REQUIREMENTS SPECIFIED BY THE FLORIDA SOLICITATION OF CONTRIBUTIONS ACT.  A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING TOLL-FREE (800-435-7352) WITHIN THE STATE OF FLORIDA, OR 850-410-3800 WHEN CALLING OUTSIDE THE STATE.  REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL, OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE.

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