Kathleen Dudzinski

Kathleen Dudzinski

Three Underwater Observation Sessions!
23 September 2021

Three Underwater Observation Sessions!

What a way to start the field season at RIMS! Our first session began at 6:40 AM – I have four participants who are early risers like me! The underwater visibility was great and the dolphins were inquisitive and vocal and playful. It was nice to see Ritchie and Bill again and the youngsters from 2013 have grown! Calli is more raked that last year but also more rambuCallinctious! She’s the closer of the two dolphins in the photo.

The second session was of a “tandem create” training session with Hector and Han. They have learned to do behaviors together – but not just any behaviors but something new to the session. They cracked me up during one request – i.e., they both sort of swam down below me and looked like the forgot what they wanted to do. Then they swam back to each other like “Oh that’s right … together!” 

Jeanne helped me during the next training session – i.e., we walked around the dock to look at all the younger animals closer up … to confirm their rake marks and other tiny scars. This will help us confirm who is who on the video data. The 3rd session was just after noon and it was not as good as the morning – the current had increased and the visibility dropped. There were also loads of moon jellyfish! Still, it was a good day overall!

I’ll be in the morning early again tomorrow – weather permitting.

Cheers

Kathleen

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Rain, Sun, Wind, Current … All in abundance today!
23 September 2021

Rain, Sun, Wind, Current … All in abundance today!

We were greeted to a deluge of rain on waking! The wind joined the rain and the sound was like a freight train rumbling by! Luckily, the sun came out a bit later … but the wind remained all day. Rain, plus rolling breakers just outside the reef meant the underwater visibility was not good (technical term: yucky!). And, the sun, rain and wind were joined by a strong current across the reef. Thus, by the end of the day, the underwater visibility was improving. 

Some of our team decided to try the morning dives, which actually provided better than expected visibility and numerous fish! The dives were on the south side of the island. While they dove, Bill and I prepped gear. The MVA is ready for use tomorrow morning. The SM2M was prepped and turned on. Bill helped me to deploy the SM2M during which time I was able to confirm first-hand that the current was STRONG! Still, 28 lbs of weight should keep the SM2M recorder in place, along with the strap keeping it snug to the piling. The dolphins paid zero attention to the SM2M or me while I strapped it into place. Here’s a picture of our deployment of the SM2M last year – everything is the same, except that this photo was from last year! (Bill and I had our hands full today, so no photos!)

I’ll be hopping into the water at about 6:40 tomorrow morning for a data collection session. In conversation with David and Denry, we know that 22 dolphins are calling Bailey’s Key home. I look forward to saying a brief hi tomorrow morning and then trying to be as non-invasive as a jellyfish (so to speak) when I observe and record their interactions. 

Cheers,  Kathleen

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Welcome to Belize! … Wait, wrong country!
23 September 2021

Welcome to Belize! … Wait, wrong country!

My flight from Miami to Roatan began well! Check-in was smooth and security lines were short. The flight departed on time. As we neared Roatan, seemingly ready to prep for landing, the captain informed us the ceiling was too low. We’d have to circle for a bit of time. We tried our first attempt at landing about 25 min later … the wind shear had other ideas! Same thing for our second attempt! So, we headed to Belize to wait out the weather and refuel. About an hour later, we got the all clear … other flights were now landing at Roatan. We took off and headed back toward the Bay Islands of Honduras. The clouds seem to have broken up a bit, the sun was shining … until we got closer to Roatan. Our first attempt to land was less bumpy but still not an all clear. Another circle and we were soon low enough to see the insects on the canopy leaves! (Ok, maybe not that low, but it felt like it!)

Hurray! Touch down … and not the football kind, though we all cheered and clapped! Only 3.5 hours later than planned but we were here. The wind and the sea are very choppy and loud. Let’s hop it all calms down tonight so we can prep and deploy gear and begin collecting data tomorrow. And, of course, say hi to the dolphins!

Cheers

Kathleen

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One Day to Go – All Packed!
23 September 2021

One Day to Go – All Packed!

My pile of gear is ready to go … I finished packing last night, much earlier than usual for a week of data collection!

But, everything is set – the SM2M, the MVA, and my mask, fins, snorkel and wet suit … and a few bits of clothing!

Today, I’ll pull together some files and other details to work on when not collecting and logging the data to be collected.

I’ve connected with the folks at RIMS and look forward to returning and to seeing and recording the dolphins this season.

I’ll update you on the dolphin group and our studies after arrival. I’m also hoping that tropical “something” from the Yucatan has dissipated!

Cheers

Kathleen

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RIMS 2014 – or bust!
23 September 2021

RIMS 2014 – or bust!

It is that time of year again! I’ve begun packing gear in prep for travel to Roatan to continue our studies of dolphin social behavior, acoustics and communication at the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences (RIMS) at Anthony’s Key Resort. I am bringing the MVA2 and the SM2M passive acoustic recorder to continue documenting dolphin interactions and vocal behavior.

I depart on Saturday and will be at RIMS for a week. I’ll be joined by four participants – Bill, Ron, Lance and Jeanne. I’ll keep you posted on the update – the big question tomorrow is if I can get everything into two checked bags and two carry-ons!

Cheers

Kathleen

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DCP RIMS 2013 video!!

Just in time for the holiday! DCP is proud to share the RIMS 2013 DCP research video.

RIMS Video 2013 from John Anderson on Vimeo.

Thank you to DCP's Fund-A-Geek sponsors and our trip participants!

Your support made our 2013 trip to Roatan to continue DCP's study of the social interactions of the bottlenose dolphins who call RIMS home possible.

Happy Holidays!!

Cheers

Kathleen & The DCP Team

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RIMS 2013 Field Session Summary

My research trip to RIMS last week was very successful!
I was able to collect 6 hours of video - roughly one hour per day, collected in two sessions per day. There are 19 dolphins at Bailey's Key for RIMS. On this trip, I met 7 new individuals born between summer 2011 and 2013. These 7 youngsters were very rambunctious and playful and quite curious about my MVA camera and me. Most juveniles are more inquisitive than older individuals of a social species, dolphins are no exception. It took a few sessions before these juvenile dolphins mostly would not continuously check me out; however, Polly (a 2 yr old female) decided I was her best buddy! She tried regularly to get me to interact with her. But, after a few sessions, her persistence waned (a bit) and I was able to become less interesting (at least I hope so!).

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Nicole and I worked a bit on the sketches for all the dolphins to inform our processing of the video data for confirmation of ID and time on screen per dolphin. We'll complete these sketches as we log the first tape of data early next week. Cedena, an older adult female, had the most change to her permanent marks with a new smaller notch in her dorsal fin. The calves have plenty of rake marks to make recognition available.
We also deployed the SM2M+ on Monday (10/28) and recovered it on Friday (11/1). With each entry for MVA data collection, I confirmed that the SM2M+ was recording data; i.e., the LED light at the tip of the hydrophone is red when recording and off (no color) when not. It was a relief to see the light was on and the cycle working. We recorded 10 minutes of every hour for a total of 4 hours of data collected during this deployment. I've uncompressed the audio files and will begin examining those sound files via spectrogram analysis later this week and next week. I quickly listened to a few tracks and know we collected data! From these data, we'll get a glimpse at how vocal the dolphins are at night in comparison to daytime hours. Very exciting observations!
Once of the goals of this trip was also to collect some new video to update DCP's research video. Our tentative plan is to have a short video ready and available for posting on the DCP web site by early December. I'll be sure to make a blog entry here when the video is ready for folks who might want to see our research on the dolphins at RIMS. And, I'll include a more detailed summary of the data in the next issue of the Dolphin Gazette, DCP's quarterly newsletter, set to be published during the last week of November.

Thank you all for reading along with my entries and supporting DCP! I look forward to a return field research session to RIMS in 2014.

Cheers

Kathleen

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Last Day of Data Collection

Our last early morning began well, but was cut short because Polly and Ronnie decided my fins were just too tempting! I did not want to stay in and reward their playful behavior since I’d prefer the dolphins to ignore me. I am focused on recording dolphin-dolphin interactions, not inquisitive actions toward me. But, the second session was awesome! The younger dolphins were very playful and allowed to play for about 15 minutes until they got a bit over-excited. That’s when the moms took charge and corralled their youngsters into infant position for a collective time out. Or at least that’s what they looked like they were doing since the mom/calf pairs were all visible for about 5 minutes. Then the play resumed but at a lower level.

There was much vocal activity – lots of whistles and buzzing and a few squawks audible too. Champ was whistling often and had a bubble stream almost constantly.

Our group had a dolphin encounter and swim at 10:30; they interacted with Alita, who was a bit distracted by Lenca coming over to visit a few times. Their swim was fun and one of the dolphins brought over a dead lionfish as a treasure from the sea!

We recovered the SM2M from its recording post – thankfully the PAM recorder is positively buoyant and it came right to the surface once we removed the weights. Getting the 28 lbs of weight to the surface took a bit more effort!

We head home tomorrow – it’s been a wonderful week and far too long (at 2.5 yrs) since my last visit. I’ll look at the data on the SM2M card early this coming week and will post another summary field report once I assess the amount of data collected this week. Thank you again to all of our Fund-A-Geek sponsors for your donations to make this research trip possible.

Cheers

Kathleen & the DCP RIMS 2013 team

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Happy Halloween!

Today was another great day of dolphin observations. I was in the water before 6:45 AM and was able to collect a full 30 min session. Ronnie and Polly were not as inquisitive of my limbs or wetsuit today as on previous days … a good thing since I want them to ignore me!

I had two sessions – the early morning entry and then one just before lunchtime. All 19 dolphins were available for filming in the morning but the four adult males were engaged in other programs (e.g., diving off the reef) for the second session. Thus, I observed the adult females and their calves. There was much rambunctious play among Champ, Tilly, Polly, Elli and Mac. On a seeming break from the play, I witnessed Mac nursing from Carmella!

Gracie came by to check out the camera a few times and she and Tilly (her young daughter) jawed at each other and swam a few speed swims. There was much whistling and buzzing vocals, heard even above the cacophony of snapping shrimp sounds!

I was delighted to be treated today, not tricked. Tomorrow is our last day of data collection. I’m planning for two sessions and we will recover the SM2M at about noon. I’ve checked the LED on the hydrophone at each entry and am pleased to report that it continues to be on when scheduled and off when not!

Until tomorrow … I wish all readers a happy Halloween!

Cheers

Kathleen & the DCP RIMS 2013 team

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Dolphins, dolphins and more dolphins!

Another great day of data collection and the sun decided to grace us with her presence! Of course, this meant the sunblock was in copious distribution! I was able to conduct two observation sessions today – one in the early morning and one in the afternoon. I was pleasantly surprised by decent underwater visibility for the afternoon session. Usually the silt is in large supply but today it was not too bad … the changing tide might have helped on that front.

The dolphins were mostly interacting with each other, and not inquisitive of me. The morning session had Ronnie checking out my fins more than I’d have liked, but I was able to focus on the dolphins not watching Ronnie to get some good data of their exchanged behaviors. I also was able to glimpse Carmella with Ellie, Alita with Lenca and Gracie with Tilly. These calves are between 1 – 2 years old, but it was cool to see them with their moms, as opposed to just playing with each other.

I make an effort to enter and exit the water from the same platform for each session. I turn the cameras on before I enter the water and turn them off just before I hand the camera up to someone on the platform, or slide it up there myself. The picture I am sharing is from the entry of a session today. The dolphins are sometimes not nearby and sometimes all over me and so I have to slip in between them!

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I’m hoping that tomorrow brings me more treats than tricks!

Cheers

Kathleen and the DCP RIMS 2013 team

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Two sessions and a training assist!


My Tuesday morning data collection session was cut short because Ronnie decided it’d be fun to be pushy and swim circles around me. So, rather than reward such rambunctious actions, I removed myself and waited for a second session later in the morning! During the first entry and the second, I did check on the SM2M. It was right where we left it (hurray!) and while in the water I confirmed that the red LED light on the hydrophone tip went on when the recording was supposed to be happening. Phew!alt

The second session was preceded by Nicole and me being asked by Dante to act as guests for a training session with Champ – a 1.5 yr old dolphin. Dante needed to have a few people near him while he worked with Champ so Champ could get used to us. He was a champ (I could not resist!) and seemed quite at ease with Nicole and me near Dante.

The observation session went smoothly – no rough-housing toward me. A few juveniles thought it would be fun to swim tight circles around me a couple of times (causing me to get dizzy!) but they also played with each other. The youngsters include Calli, Tilly, Polly, Elli, Champ, Lenca and Mac. Nicole and I think we have finally committed their few scratches and scars to memory such that we can regularly recognize each of the individuals. They were quite vocal during the session – whistles, buzzes and clicks were recorded along with some twisty turns and fast swims. All in all, an hour of data was collected with the MVA2. John mounted a GoPro to the top the MVA2 so each entry has two video logs. The GoPro provides a wider frame of view but both allow documentation of the behavioral interactions among the dolphins.  alt

Tomorrow is another day that will begin with me in the water at 6:45 AM!

Cheers

Kathleen & the DCP RIMS 2013 team

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SM2M Deployed!

This morning brought another early session. I collected about 30 minutes of data before 7:30 AM when our team was preparing to head out for an early morning dive. Hector and Han decided my fins were the best thing since sliced bread and nibbled on them. It’s a bit disconcerting to have to stop and elevate my feet into the air to get the dolphins to ignore me.

The afternoon brought a chance to deploy the Song Meter SM2M Marine, from Wildlife Acoustics (see photo). John, Nicole and Nate helped me with the deployment. John filmed from below while Nate and Nicole handed me the SM2M with the 24 pounds of weight for placement.

The SM2M will let us record dolphin sounds over each 24 hr period from today to Friday. We attached the passive acoustic recorder to a piling in the dolphin pool and watched as several of the younger animals and their moms swam by to check out the yellow tube! I think they were more interested in John’s bubbles from SCUBA, but a least one individual supervised my tightening of one strap to secure the recorder to the piling! We got quite a bit of data today and both Nicole and I (at least) are getting to know the scratches and other ID marks on the younger dolphins, as well as remembering the marks on the older individuals.

Tomorrow brings more data collection!

Cheers

Kathleen

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Re-formatted MVA2 meets new Faces

The sun rose at ~5:30 AM. I was excited to head over to see the dolphins but had to make sure the camera focus was set and the O-rings properly lubed. We met at the water taxi at 6:45 and I was in the water by 7 AM. Several dolphins hung close to the platform as I donned by fins and mask and turned the camera on. I slipped into the water into the center of a dolphin tribunal! I made sure there were no leaks into the housing and when I looked up, I was face-to-face with Paya! Apparently, I have no personal space where Paya or the younger dolphins are concerned. After a minute or two, the dolphins all were off to their own interactions. At about 10 minutes into the session, Hector and Han decided my fins were the best thing ever! They mouthed them and pulled at them and were just right at my feet continually, it seemed. Gracie brought Tilly over to meet me and Mika had Polly and Mac and swam by me a few times. The “new” young animals range in age from 3 months to about 1.5 yrs old. They were quite inquisitive and swam circles around me and at me, though we had no games of “chicken” today. I did see much pec fin rubbing and nudging one another.

I recorded almost 30 minutes before 7:30 AM and then went back at 9:30 for a second session. Hector, Han, Paya and Ronnie were engaged in other activities outside of the main pool area. So, I had the second session with only 15 dolphins – mostly the adult females and their offspring. It was a blast! The youngsters were quite inquisitive and swam very close to the camera – putting their face next to the front plate, buzzing me and checking everything out. I saw all of the adult females a few times: Cedeña has a new notch in her dorsal fin, but all her other marks are the same. There were numerous whistles and clicks and buzzes.

Before coming to RIMS, John and I updated the MVA2 with a different set of hydrophones and repositioned a camera into the housing. The latter required a new control knob. Everything worked great! And, the audio sounds awesome!

We’ll have more data collection sessions tomorrow and will also deploy the SM2M passive acoustic recorder tomorrow (made by www.wildlifeacoustics.com). We’ll leave the SM2M deployed for 4-5 days and record audio day and night to see if there is a pattern to the dolphin vocal behavior.

More tomorrow!

Cheers

Kathleen & the DCP RIMS 2013 team

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We have arrived!!

It felt like Nicole, Nate and I opened JFK airport having arrived at 03:45 to check in for our flight through Atlanta to Roatan. The time sped by, however, and we landed on Roatan at 11:15 AM (we’re on mountain time on Roatan) to weather warmth that has departed New England for the season. It turns out that Ron, Madison, Bill and Dana were on our flight also … the only late arrivals of our group were John and Bill S.  We are all settled on the NW corner of Anthony’s Key with a peripheral view of Bailey’s Key, and the dolphins, and a regular ocean concert of crashing waves.

Getting to Anthony’s Key Resort felt like coming home, especially since I’d not been able to visit last year for data collection. And, we were greeted with the news that there are 7 new dolphins to the group – new since my last visit 2.5 years ago (WOW!). Residing around Bailey’s Key are Hector, Han, Paya, Ronnie, Alita, Beasley, Carmella, Cedeña, Gracie, Maury, Mika, Bailey, Polly, Elli, Calli, Tilly (Yes, now we have a Tilly at RIMS and around Bimini!), Lenca, Champ and Mac. Later in the week I’ll identify who’s related to whom for the dolphins. We learned that French, Ritchie, Anthony and Bill are at a facility on the other side of Roatan. We spent an hour or so at Bailey’s Key watching the dolphins frolic at the surface, chasing one another and playing keep away with sea grass blades.  

I spoke with Eldon and will begin data collection early tomorrow morning – I plan two separate half-hour sessions to get the dolphins reacquainted with my gear (and me). Until tomorrow …

Cheers

Kathleen & the DCP RIMS 2013 team

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Packed and ready to Go!

The sprawl of gear and personal stuff is now orderly and neatly packed into three checked bags. The SM2M is safely inside a nice secure case on wheels. The MVA2 is in the orange “giant” case that either John or I use regularly and is fully padded for transit from CT to Roatan (I hope!). And, my fins, wetsuit, mask, snorkel and assorted clothing are all tucked into a small soft bag. Yes! I am more than ready to go, especially so since we had our first frost of the season last night. I woke to just above freezing temps! Burr!!!

I’ll share a bit about DCP’s history of study on the RIMS dolphins tomorrow, before beginning official travel south. And, then the fun begins with arrival to Roatan on Saturday late morning (cross your fingers for uneventful flights!).

Cheers

Kathleen

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Only 4 days to go before Departure!

Only four days remain before I begin the trek to JFK and then to Roatan. I seem to have a knack for identifying flights that leave before the sun rises! I’ve reviewed the data sheets and made copies for the field work. We have surface logs for notating animals within various distances of the MVA from the surface viewpoint. We have blank sketch sheets for drawing the marks of the dolphins. We need to update our sketches annually to match with our video logs. This helps confirming the different IDs on the screen when we are back in the office reviewing and processing the video data. There are 20 plus dolphins to remember … easier than our wild groups, but still subtle with respect to marks.


My gear is lain out and being reviewed prior to being packed. I have the MVA2, the camera, the SM2M, my mask, fins, snorkel, wet suit, batteries, tapes, personal gear …

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Let’s see if I can get everything into two checked bags and 1-2 carry-ons!


Cheers

Kathleen

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MVA2 Upgrades and Prep for RIMS trip!

Any free time last week and this week are dedicated to preparing for the last week of October to RIMS. My week at RIMS comes after a two-year hiatus! I am very much looking forward to visiting RIMS and seeing the dolphins again. To see how much the calves have grown and see who’s hanging out with whom.

Last week was filled with re-formatting the MVA2 for a tape-camera that John and I found on eBay. I was having issues with a tape-less camera. We found an HDR camera and it just barely fit into MVA2. John spent a bit of time and set a new control into the back plate that will turn the camera on and off and connect with the record/standby button. So, we are set with camera control. The hydrophones needed to be replaced as the older pair (15 years old) had grounding problems that added quite a bit of noise to the recordings. We had a past-pair that work well, even though they require power. And, John found a neat option for the hydrophone arms – “locline” links. These replace the aluminum set arms that I love but are extremely difficult to travel with … if the locline arms work, then they will shift from a temporary fix to a permanent fix for the hydrophone displacement. I.e., to keep the hydrophone boxes at their minimum scaled distance apart (4.5 times the distance between my ears!).

I include a few photos so you can see some of these upgrades to MVA2.

MVA2 near done MVA2 new wiring MVA2 arms

This week includes review of the data sheets to make sure I have enough copies. I’ll also print out some of the papers we’ve had published since my last trip. And, the gear is being laid out in my library so I can make sure I do not forget anything. I’m shooting for two checked bags … I’ll let you know on Thursday if I meet my goal!

Thank you to our Fund-A-Geek sponsors for helping to make this trip possible!

Cheers

Kathleen

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Our Last Full Day in Nassau and at DE

When we first arrived, we helped do a bit of research – Kathleen deployed the “yellow baby” (aka the SM2M unit) and also helped Rebecca finish up some of her control sessions. We were then guinea pigs and got to snorkel in the new snorkel area being planned for guests between the sea lions and dolphins. We saw a HUGE lobster and a few tinier fish.

After our snorkel, we got the chance to watch a sea lion training session and encounter. The sea lion was PJ who starred in the movie Andre and also PJ & the Stinkers. The trainers use a vocal bridge instead of a whistle as for the dolphins. The hugs and funny faces the sea lions make are just hysterical.

We then had lunch and got to play on some of the inflatable thingees – it was fun. But, then we saw little thimble jellies and we decided to get out of the water.

The afternoon brought us to our swim with the dolphins. This was very cool and really fun. We got a hug, a kiss and did a few dances before we had foot-pushes.

We wrapped up the day with an extra snorkel – we were in the water lots today! And, since it was a day mostly with sunshine, we all got a bit sunburned.

We head home tomorrow – but we learned a lot and did many different things!

Tomorrow, we travel home.

It has been a great class!

Cheers

The 2012 ECCs!

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Beach clean up and the Straw Market

DE12_BeachCleanUpWe got lost on the way to our beach clean up and got to see more of the island. When we finally got there, we had lots and lots of trash to clean up. There were log sheets to have an idea of the type of trash that was collected.

Lunch was had at the fish fry – specifically at Goldie’s – and several of us tried Bahamian food. This included Bahamian mac and cheese, plantain, and cracked conch. The food was delicious!!! We all had a taste of sky juice … very sweet.

We then walked about half a mile to the downtown tourist area of Nassau and spent some time in the Straw Market. It was VERY touristy and people-watching was great. We also received firsthand experience with bartering island style.

It was a good day overall.

Tomorrow is our last day at DE and includes more research and our swim with dolphins.

Until Then,

The 2012 ECCs

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Ooops - a P.S. to Memorial Day!

DE12_Kathleen

P.S. This, the second photo from Monday, photo shows Kathleen holding the SM2M unit to collect click trains from the dolphins.

The audio file (below) depicts about 15 seconds of clicks. We have collected a good amount of data with the new ultrasonic click detector added to our SM2M.

{audio}podcast/samplesegment052712_short.mp3{/audio}

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Happy Birthday Mikkah! Oh yeah … and, we had a dolphin encounter!

We had our dolphin encounter on Monday – we got to dance with, get a kiss from, and hug a dolphin. The encounter, with Missy, was awesome! The dolphin skin felt like a hardboiled egg.

We also learned about husbandry behaviors and why they are important for dolphins. Then, we went to the classroom and had a chat with Sara – the vet tech for DE. She shared with us details about the various medical procedures that might be needed with sea lions and dolphins, and the other critters at Blue Lagoon Island (e.g., Iggy the Iguana, the fish and birds, too).

DE12_RSinger_ResearchIt was nice and sunny all day long – our lunch was delicious and in the sunshine which was great! Linzi gave us the history of DE and how Blue Lagoon Island came to be and then Kim gave us a talk about approximating voluntary blood draws from dolphins. It was cool to see Kim with the dolphins – she is mom and the dolphins look up to her. The dolphin flukes present the veins that are really easy to see – once you know where to look for them.

Then, we started Dr. Singer’s research – we started with the boys. We were quite successful with the first two (Stormy and Jake) and then Goombay kept getting distracted by Jake so his trial did not go well. So we moved on to the girls. In all, Dr. Singer was able to complete control trials for 15 dolphins today! The photo depicts her doing a trial with Jake.

We finished the day with birthday cake and a song for Mikkah! J

Tomorrow is our beach clean up and visit to Ardastra Zoo.

Until then,

The 2012 ECCs

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First Day at DE

We woke very early to head to Dolphin Encounters (DE). It was just getting light and we had a nice morningDE12_Group dolphin photo_EthologicalStudies walk to the ferry port for our ride to Blue Lagoon Island. The rain followed us to DE, and arrived the same time we did.

The dolphins greeted us, which was cool to see and hear. Annette oriented us to the facilities and gave us name-specific ID badges. We helped put together Dr. Singer’s apparatus and ran through practice on how to work it … i.e., practice trials. Then we helped Dr. D. collect data with her yellow tube (aka SM2M).

We had what one student has called “the best chicken sandwich ever” for lunch. After lunch we had a short bit of time to sit on the beach. Then, we collected more data and sketched the dolphins. We tried to see and remember the ID marks on each dolphin. Ranaldo, one of the awesome trainers, introduced us to Jake, Stormy, Goombay and Sean. We got to help a bit with training and then got to learn a few training signals from Ranaldo. In this photo you can see all of us on Swim #3 platform with Sean, Goombay and Stormy leaping for joy behind us. Note Jake hiding behind Brooke on the far left. He was camera-shy today!

Tomorrow we have our encounter, followed by more research and maybe a snorkel.

Until tomorrow,

The 2012 ECCs

P.S. Oh yes, we also had a lecture on Theory of Mind!

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Snorkeling above Sharks!

DE12_NassauSnorkel_EthologicalStudiesIt was sunny this Sunday morning! We ate pancakes! We swam with sharks!

The snorkeling was different from our snorkels in Bimini. It was cool to see lots of fish, but the dive masters were feeding the fish. It was not natural. The fish were almost in your face because of the feeding. The feeling was really touristy.

The shark snorkel was cool but it also was not natural – chum was put in the water after we had been in the water. The shark snorkel was not free swim. We had to hold on to a line and look down. After we were all out, then they chummed for the sharks to come right up to the boat.

We saw a few fish eating on the coral and the sergeant majors were protecting their little dens. We saw wrasse, jacks, damsel fish, tangs, parrot fish and stingrays.

 

Tomorrow is our first day at Dolphin Encounters – we are all quite excited.

Until tomorrow,

The 2012 ECCs

 

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Glorious sunshine … for our travel to Nassau!

The day started early and beautifully! We needed to say bye to Kel, Al and everyone on Bimini for our trek to Nassau. We reversed our arrival by riding the ferry taxi to South Bimini for the airplane ride to Nassau. And then, we sat in the airport "forever" … our first sunny day in what felt like a week … spent inside an airport waiting for our plane to arrive.

We brought the rain to Nassau – flying threw a few thunderheads – but it didn’t last all day. We arrived to Sunrise Beach Condo and settled in. We have both pool side and ocean front access and views.

While Kathleen went to the grocery store, our E&E team played games … training games with skittles for rewards. The information was about operant conditioning. The evening finished up with a delicious spaghetti dinner and a hopeful, soothing and beautiful sunset. It was refreshing to see the sun today and we have high hopes for its return tomorrow morning.

Until then,

The 2012 Ethology Class Crew (ECCs)

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Happy New Year & Seminar Announcement!

Happy New Year!

I'm delighted to share with you details of an exciting seminar scheduled for March 10-12, 2014! Hosted in collaboration with Zoo Atlanta, the seminar is titled "Cognition, Enrichment and Collaboration."

This seminar will explore animal cognition and enrichment techniques. Special sessions include the value of research as enrichment and the importance of collaboration between researchers and animal caretakers. The seminar includes lectures and research demonstrations. There will be invited national and international speakers as well as limited slots for participant’s presentations.

For more details and to sign up, check out the seminar web site at this link: http://www.animalconcepts.eu/styled-4/styled-12/styled/index.html
You can also contact Dr. Rebecca Singer at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with questions.


Cheers!
Kathleen


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Kathleen Dudzinski, Ph.D.
23 September 2021

Kathleen Dudzinski, Ph.D.

Director, Dolphin Communication Project

Dr. Kathleen Dudzinski has been studying dolphin behavior and communication since 1990, with a focus on tactile, behavioral and acoustic signals employed by dolphins as they share information with each other and across groups. Dr. Dudzinski is Founder and Director of the Dolphin Communication Project (DCP). Her current research focuses on two groups of dolphins in managed care - at the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences (RIMS) in Honduras and at Blue Lagoon Island, home of Dolphin Encounters (DE), on Nassau, The Bahamas. Dr. Dudzinski oversees research conducted by graduate students from several universities who collaborate with DCP. Students either access DCP's 20 year data archive or sometimes collect their own data at one of DCP's field sites. Student theses/dissertations often focus on the behavior, acoustics, communication, and cognition among and between dolphins at DCP's study sites. Those sites include five locations around the globe: two wild dolphin populations near (Atlantic spotted dolphins) Bimini, The Bahamas and (Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins) Mikura Island , Japan and three groups of dolphins in human care (all three are bottlenose dolphins) at the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences (RIMS), Anthony’s Key Resort, Roatan, Honduras,  at Dolphin Encounters at Blue Lagoon Island, Nassau, The Bahamas, and at Zoo Duisburg, Duisburg, Germany.

In 2000, Dr Dudzinski’s work studying dolphins was featured in the large-format film DOLPHINS from MacGillivray Freeman Films (2000) for IMAX theaters. In the same year, her first book for children, Meeting Dolphins My Adventures in the Sea, was published by National Geographic Books. Since then, Dr. Dudzinski has also consulted on several documentary films (e.g., BBC/NOVA's Inside the Animal Mind), magazine articles and other projects. Her work was featured in a twelve-part, after-school adventure series for children through Immersion Presents and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. She has been interviewed for numerous periodicals, for KOL, by the Girls Scouts and by NECN, among others. Dr. Dudzinski’s second book, co-authored with Dr. Toni Frohoff, on dolphin communication was published by Yale University Press in fall 2008: Dolphin Mysteries: Unlocking the secrets of communication.

Dr. Dudzinski is available for speaking engagements with a roster of presentation topics including dolphin communication, eavesdropping on dolphins: what we are learning about how dolphins communicate, getting started with a career in marine science focused on marine mammals, behavior, and more. Dr. Dudzinski is also available for consultation in areas related to applying the current knowledge of dolphin social behavior and communication to marine mammal habitat development, acoustic monitoring for mitigation or assessment, science-standard curriculum development, textbook curriculum development, and more.

Background

Dr. Kathleen Dudzinski attended The University of Connecticut, graduating as University Scholar with a B.S. in the Biological Sciences in 1989. She completed and was awarded her doctorate in Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences with a focus on dolphin communication and behavior in August, 1996. Her first experience related to marine mammals was as an intern with the Atlantic Cetacean Research Center in the Summer of 1987. She was awarded a National Science Foundation Three-Year Pre-doctoral Fellowship in 1990, and began graduate studies with Dr. Bernd Würsig and the Marine Mammal Research Program at Texas A&M University in September of the same year. During her graduate program, Dr. Dudzinski studied communication between Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) in Bahamian waters: her focus was on contact behavior and signal exchange among dolphins. Her graduate studies were partially funded by Oceanic Society Expeditions following an eco-tour format. During her graduate school tenure, Dr. Dudzinski also assisted with, or conducted research on bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops sp.) in the Gulf of Mexico, Belize, Japan, and in two Dolphinaria in Europe (Kolmårdens Djurpark, Sweden and Nürnberg Zoo, Germany).

With guidance from Dr.'s Bernd Würsig and Christopher Clark (Bioacoustics Research Program, Cornell University), Dr. Dudzinski designed and built a new system for simultaneously recording the behavior and vocalizations of dolphins underwater. For this work, she received the Fairfield Memorial Award for Innovative Research at the Tenth Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, Galveston, Texas, in December, 1993. With David Goodson and Darryl Newborough in 1997, Dudzinski added an echolocation click detector to this mobile recording system to capture and document information on dolphin echolocation signals. Image

From September 1997 to 2000, Dr. Dudzinski studied signal exchange and contact behavior between individuals in a human-habituated group of bottlenose dolphins that inhabit the waters around Mikura-jima, Japan. She was funded on a post-doctoral fellowship through the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science, and was hosted by Yoshioka-sensei of Mie University.

In 2002, Dr. Dudzinski became an Adjunct Faculty member in Psychology at the University of Southern Mississippi and in Animal Science at the University of Rhode Island. From 2009 to 2013, Dr. Dudzinski was a visiting associate professor in Biology and Botany to teach animal behavior and three different seminar courses related to marine mammals and ecology. With In collaboration with colleagues at these and other universities, Dr. Dudzinski continues to advise two to three graduate students focused on studying various aspects of dolphin science, especially behavior and acoustics.

Dr. Dudzinski's main focus is understanding how dolphins in varied habitats (including captive and wild) share information with the goal of conducting comparative research into signal exchange. 

On a more personal note, Dr. Dudzinski is proudly entering her 15th year of marriage to her best friend, John , a photographer and cameraman. While their wedding ceremony was blanketed by a holiday blizzard, and they lived in Connecticut for a decade, both Kathleen and John recently decided water skiing was preferable to snow skiing! They moved to Florida late 2014 and enjoy spending warm late afternoons on walks with Dixie, their three-year old beagle.

 

VIDEO: Kathleen discusses her research

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Our History

DCP 20th Anniversary video The Dolphin Communication Project (DCP) is 20 years old! John Anderson, Director of Terramar Productions and long-time collaborator and supporter of DCP, created (filmed, edited, produced) a celebratory film for DCP's 20th anniversary! Grab a beverage and some popcorn and join Kathleen, Kel, and our team of supporters, collaborators, and students as we remember the "early days" and share how we began, where we've been, and what we envision for the future! Thank you to everyone who has made the past 20 years possible! And, stay tuned for the next 20 years!

At DCP, we promote the scientific study of dolphins with emphasis into understanding their behavior, acoustics, communication, cognition, ecology, and more. We funnel our research results into engaging educational programs. We collaborate with other scientists internationally and across disciplines (e.g., acoustics, population dynamics, respiratory physiology, cognition, etc.) to better understand dolphin society and to inspire conservation and management programs.KD and kids at Enoshima

At DCP, all collaborating scientists are dedicated to continuing long-term, longitudinal observations of dolphins in our study locations: Bimini, The Bahamas; Mikura Island, Japan; Roatan, Honduras; Nassau, The Bahamas; and Duisburg, Germany.

In the Beginning

The research archive of DCP began accumulating with Director Kathleen Dudzinski’s doctoral study of Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) in The Bahamas. From 1991 to 2002, Dudzinski observed and recorded Atlantic spotted dolphins north of Grand Bahamas Island, The Bahamas. She spent six months per year on a boat collecting data on dolphin behavior and sounds. While completing her post-doctoral studies observing Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) around Mikura Island, Japan, Dudzinski participated in the making of the large-format film, DOLPHINS, from MacGillivray Freeman Films for IMAX theaters. With the release of the film in 2000, Dudzinski formally founded the Dolphin Communication Project (DCP) and launched the first version of the DCP web site to provide factual yet engaging information about dolphins and their behavior and communication to as many people as possible.

DCP in The Bahamas

Dudzinski spent more than a decade directly studying or overseeing data collection on the spotted dolphins north of Grand Bahamas Island with Oceanic Society Expeditions. In 1997, while in the field with Bob Talbot for MacGillivray Freeman Films, Dudzinski first observed the spotted dolphins off Bimini, The Bahamas. She began collaborating with Bimini Undersea and, after returning from Japan, officially helped launch a systematic study of the spotted dolphin group from Bimini in 2001. Since then, various students have collaborated with DCP to study the Atlantic spotted dolphins found around Bimini, The Bahamas. Kel Melillo Sweeting and Kat DeStefano were DCP summer interns in 2003 and spent the summer on Bimini overseeing our studies of spotted and bottlenose dolphins in that area. Kel has managed the DCP Bimini field site and all dolphin studies conducted from Bimini since 2003. Her Master’s Degree focus was interspecific dolphin interactions.

Atlantic spotted and bottlenose dolphins use a variety of signals to exchange information that vary according to dolphin age, sex, behavioral activity, and group type. Age and sex differences were recorded as related to initiator and receiver roles assumed by dolphins; for example, dolphins more often exchanged rubs or pets with individuals of the same sex and age class. Physical contact and sounds varied significantly, but at differing levels, with behavioral activity, group type, and age. Touch and sounds could be used concurrently, to maximize or enhance a message, or could be used separately, but with similar functions.

DCP around Mikura Island, Japan

In 1997, Dudzinski moved to Japan to complete her post-doctoral studies of the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins frequently the area within 300 m of Mikura Island. Mikura Island offers a unique opportunity to examine dolphin behavior in a setting far different from the Bahamas. Mikura Island, about 180 km south of Tokyo, is a dormant volcano likely thousands of years old: near shore is shallow (4-20 meters) but depths over 100 meters can be found within 250 meters of shore. Dudzinski spent 2 years straight studying these dolphins and returned each summer for several months from 2001 to 2009.


DCP's research in Japan focused on dolphin signal exchange, but also provided data for Senior Research Associate Justin Gregg on how dolphins might eavesdrop on the echolocation of their neighbors. Gregg joined DCP in 2005, when he decided to focus on echolocation and echoic eavesdropping use among dolphins. Gregg created a unique method to examine head angles and turns between dolphin pairs as they swam toward the MVA. His work focused on the dolphins around Mikura Island. Neither Dudzinski nor Gregg was able to return to lengthy stays on Mikura after 2009. Nonetheless, DCP continues to access the data archive from Mikura to continue to address questions of dolphin behavior when comparing different species from distinct habitats. And, we continue future collaboration with Mai Sakai and Tadamichi Morisaka (visit Our Partners page in the About menu for more details on these & other colleagues).


DCP at RIMS, Roatan, Honduras

In 2002, a German film crew invited Dudzinski to Honduras, specifically to Roatan Island and Anthony’s Key Resort. The crew’s deadline for a program were rapidly approaching and they were eager to document Dudzinski and her camera system with dolphins to highlight DCP’s focal animal follow protocol with the MVA. Anthony’s Key Resort (AKR) was home to the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences (RIMS), which housed about 18 common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). Several of these dolphins left their enclosures to visit the reef and accompany scuba divers! This introduction seemed too good to be true! Dudzinski queried RIMS director, Eldon Bolton, about establishing a long-term study on the dolphins in his care. DCP offered our first eco-tour to Roatan in 2003 and we’ve returned every year (sometimes twice) to continue our observations of the dolphins who call RIMS home. For Dudzinski, beginning a study of the dolphins at RIMS was a dream come true – i.e., since her graduate school days, Dudzinski had wanted to study both captive and wild dolphins in a comparative manner. Now, we were doing just that!

KD and Gracie at RIMS
The bottlenose dolphins residing at RIMS provide a unique opportunity to compare the behavior of these captive animals to that recorded from wild dolphins in both The Bahamas and around Mikura Island, Japan. Collection of data from both wild and captive study sites facilitates species, habitat, and geographical comparisons with respect to behavior and communication, as well as the opportunity to look at the similarities between wild dolphins and those in human care. 

DCP at Dolphin Encounters at Blue Lagoon Island, Nassau, The Bahamas

In May 2006, DCP began research at our fourth study site, and second captive group of dolphins, on the common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) at Dolphin Encounters at Blue Lagoon Island (DE), in Nassau, The Bahamas. Adding studies on this group of dolphins to our roster of sites and animals being observed allows us to include the recorded behavior of two groups of captive dolphins (in natural lagoons) and two groups of wild dolphins into our data analyses and general archive. For her Master's Degree from the University of Connecticut (2008), Kristy Beard collected data on the function of bubble production (from the blowhole) as a visual signal for communication from these dolphins and compared results with data collected from the bottlenose and spotted dolphins at Bimini, The Bahamas. More recently, Gillian Reily completed her Master’s Degree with Nova Southeastern University (2014) with an examination of DE dolphin whistles – her analyses suggest support for both the signature whistle and whistler repertoire hypotheses. At both DE and at RIMS, DCP began using a passive acoustic recorder (SM2M from Wildlife Acoustics) to document diurnal vocal behavior and ambient noise levels at each facility. The photos depict the SM2M deployed in pool 2 at DE - attached to a piling - and a dolphin showing minor interest in the SM2M.

 SM2M at DE SM2M and dolphin at DE

DCP at Zoo Duisburg, Germany

In 2012, Dudzinski was invited to Germany to conduct observational studies of the common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) at Zoo Duisburg, Duisburg, Germany. This group of nine dolphins was DCP’s first study to be conducted on dolphins residing in a man-made pool. The addition of Zoo Duisburg dolphins to DCP’s research roster meant we have data from two groups of wild dolphins (actually 3 or 4 if you include our archives), two groups of captive dolphins residing in natural lagoons and one group of dolphins living in a man-made pool. Our methods were consistent between all field sites and species for recording video and audio data. Our assumptions were consistent between sites. Dudzinski has returned a few times to continue our studies of this group of dolphins … and we are finding no significant differences in how dolphins exchange tactile contact whether they are wild or captive, in natural lagoons or in man-made pools. One of DCP’s summer-interns-turned-regular-volunteer, Nicole Danaher-Garcia assisted with data processing and is one of the co-authors on our paper comparing pectoral fin contact between dolphins at each type of our field sites.


General Comparisons

With research currently ongoing at four locations including three dolphin species and several distinct research questions, DCP scientists are also investigating how each group compares to the others. What are the similarities and differences in use and production of tactile and vocal behavior among dolphins? Could species or habitat differences play a significant factor in any observed differences in signal exchange? Are there differences between wild dolphins with those in captivity? These are just some of the questions that scientists collaborating with DCP are pursuing. Check out the research section of this web site for more details.


DCP team memb ers use specially developed underwater video and directional bioacoustic recording equipment (the MVA) to identify and localize individual dolphins as the source of sounds. Understanding which dolphins produce sounds and how the sounds might be used facilitates examination of relationships between dolphin sounds and behaviors. This unique study of dolphin communication, both in the wild and with dolphins in human care, collects data under water and uses non-invasive methods to observe and record dolphins in their own habitat. DCP is also the only group to apply the exact same protocols for data collection and analyses on wild dolphins to observations of bottlenose dolphins in captivity at three facilities - at RIMS in Roatan, Honduras; at Dolphin Encounters in Nassau, The Bahamas; and at Zoo Duisburg in Duisburg, Germany.

Occasionally, the dolphins find the MVA very interesting, even when it's not in the water with one of the DCP team members!

Dolphins are considered highly intelligent creatures because of their apparently complex communication system and complex cognitive capabilities. A better understanding of the minds and social lives of non-human animals is one result of examining their methods of communication and cognitive abilities. Still, dolphins, in fact all non-human animals, must not be measured according to how close they come to equaling human intelligence and development, but rather accepted and appreciated for what they are. It is through studies of this type that we may learn how better to interact with our environment, and its inhabitants.

DCP Research

DCP was founded on the dual goals of conducting scientific studies on dolphins – from their behavior and acoustics to their cognition, communication and also their physiology, ecology and distribution – and inserting research results into education programs for all ages. While DCP’s research program began with Dudzinski’s studies into acoustics, behavior and communication, research topics have expanded over the years to include ecology, distribution and residency patterns, hearing, respiratory physiology, and more. DCP is proud to represent a diverse group of scientists focused on understanding as many details about dolphin society, culture, social structure, communication, physiology, and anatomy as possible. For more details on research at each location, visit the current research topics page on this site.

Educational Programming

 DCP’s second goal has always revolved around inserting research results into our educational programming – whether online, during afterschool programs, or as part of DCP’s college field courses. DCP’s mission focuses on using the scientific study of dolphins to inspire conservation of dolphins and their ocean home. Several programs and curricula have been developed over the past decade to teach both school groups and the general public about dolphins, dolphin science, ocean conservation, and related topics. These programs are offered as auditorium-style lectures (100 or more viewers) or as more "up-close and personal" discussions with groups of smaller size. Presentations include slides, video, or "prop" demonstrations. For more information, see our list of options under the Education drop-down menu. For information regarding each educational activity or to discuss a special presentation, contact DCP. For information on tailored, invited lectures or speaking engagements, please check out the biographies for scientists collaborating with DCP, or contact DCP about options.

Internships/Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteer and internship opportunities are offered on a limited, individual basis. Assistance is needed in the processing and analysis of data at the DCP office in Florida. Autumn or spring semester internships are typically eight weeks long. Only our summer internship program includes field work (in addition to a mandatory office component). More information about DCP’s internship and volunteer opportunities can be found under the Education menu option. To visit one of DCP’s field sites for a short, informative stay as an eco-tourist, please check out the eco-tour options under the Education menu.

 

 Swimming with Dolphins: A Position Statement

Humanity's interest in dolphins and whales has increased at what seems to be an exponential rate, especially in the last decade. This trend shows no sign of declining. With our heightened interest has come a desire to observe and interact with dolphins and whales in their natural environment. One positive effect of this interest is a renewed sense to protect the environment. It is important to remember that swimming with dolphins in U.S. waters is prohibited. If you participate in a swim program outside the U.S., we urge you to learn more about the dolphins/whales in that area and be as respectful as possible - do not chase, do not touch the animals. Be as non-invasive as possible. For more specific information on this topic, please see the Code of Conduct .

dolphin communication, dolphin research, study dolphins, swim with dolphins

I think “wow” just about covers it….

Bimini2010_T86_092We departed the dock with sunny skies and, finally, calm seas. Saturday’s trip followed a week of abbreviated and/or cancelled dolphin trips because of the high winds and seas. Although today’s group of passengers was small, we were all eager for dolphins. The first half of the trip was uneventful, but we didn’t stop looking. At about 1730, we saw some very big splashes. Although we were hopeful it might be dolphins, we were prepared for something more unusual because the splashes were not typical for what we see here. Soon, it was unmistakable – dolphins were causing all this commotion! Soon we were following at least 50 – yes, 5-0 – dolphins as they traveled north. This is officially the largest dolphin group observed by DCP in Bimini. Amazing! As if that weren’t enough, there was at least one bottlenose dolphin in the group – and possibly (not confirmed) at least three pantropical spotted dolphins! This species is not often seen in this area – it was all very exciting!! 

Included in the group were Romeo (#10), Swoosh (#36), Lone Star (#56), Trudy (#57), Stefran (#82), Addie (#84), Tilly (#87) and un-named #43 and #92. ID#92 is pictured here. The boat passengers were able to get a quick glimpse under water with the young dolphins circling all about! 

Until next time,

Kel

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SCS Team says “goodbye” to Bimini

On Thursday morning, we continued to review still photographs of bottlenose dolphins – and we got to check out the video footage collected on Tuesday’s dolphin trip. We sorted more images of Tt15 and suspect that Tt31 may have also been present. In Wednesday’s photographs we all agreed the that distinct individual, whose photograph was included in our last field report, is in fact Tt26. That means that Tt26 has been seen at least once in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Now if only we knew if Tt26 was male or female… 

In the afternoon we began our final dolphin trip of the week. The seas continued to be choppy and we were also dealing with scattered squalls in the area. As our captain kept his eyes on the storm clouds, we kept our eyes open for dolphins. Unfortunately we were not able to end the week with a dolphin sighting, but it was great to be out looking. 

We came back to the dock just before a small squall passed and then headed out for a group dinner. It was wonderful (thanks guys!). This morning, we all met for one last time before the SCS team headed to the airport. 

DCP would like to give a big thank you to everyone at the Swiss Cetacean Society for helping to organize this trip – and of course, the enthusiastic participants – Thank you! 

Until next time,

Kel & the SCS Team

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More bottlenose!

Bimini2010_T83_TtOn Wednesday morning, we went through ¾ of the underwater still photos collected during Tuesday’s amazing swim with bottlenose dolphins. Although many of the photographs were more suitable for behavior documentation and not photo-ID, we were able to confirm that Tt15 was in the group! The “Tt” in the ID code stands for “Tursiops truncatus” which is the Latin, or scientific, name for a bottlenose dolphin. We were thrilled to confirm this ID as well as add additional sections of its body to Tt15’s ID files. 

The afternoon brought dolphin trip #4 of the week. We headed out at 1430 with winds slightly more in the east which gave us some protection as we searched for bottlenose along the coastline. It seemed immediately there they were! Two bottlenose dolphins were traveling south. They showed no signs of slowing down, so we followed them. Soon, then changed directions again, heading back where they came from – we wondered what they were searching for! We observed them for a bit longer before opting to go in search of other dolphins. We took a 20 minute break to snorkel the “Bimini Road” (aka “Atlantis”) and then headed into choppy seas to look for more dolphins. Although we did not see them, we were thrilled to see so much of the first two bottlenose dolphins and look forward to trying to ID their dorsal fins tomorrow – including the very distinct fin pictured here! 

Until then,

Kel & the SCS Team

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Wind won’t stop us!

Bimini2010_SCSTtMonday afternoon’s dolphin trip was bumpy and well, dolphin-free. Although we kept our spirits high and stayed optimistic, we did not see any dolphins. On Tuesday morning, the SCS team had a chance to explore North Bimini, including the small museum. At 1430, we left the dock. We chatted with our captain and prepared ourselves for even choppier seas. But then, seemingly out of nowhere, was a bottlenose dolphin! We became very enthusiastic only to lose sight of the dolphin. Moments later, we saw a couple more and this time, we did not lose sight of them for more than 90 minutes! The majority of this time was spent with the SCS team in the water (pictured here), observing five bottlenose dolphins “crater feeding,” while Kel stayed aboard the boat collecting dorsal fin photographs. She joined in the water toward the end, recording approximately 10 minutes of video data. Suddenly, the dolphins were out of sight – we did not know whether they went north or south, but we were thrilled to have had such a long observation on such a choppy day! 

Until next time,

Kel & the 2010 SCS Team

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Welcome SCS!

Bimini 2010_T80_TtRakeMarksOn Sunday morning, three members of the Swiss Cetacean Society arrived in Bimini. After settling into the Sea Crest Hotel & Marina, we left the dock in search of dolphins. It has been very windy here in Bimini so we were not sure how much time we would be able to spend in search of dolphins. About an hour into the boat trip, the participants hopped in the warm sea to test their snorkel gear and practice getting on and off the boat. We continued looking for dolphins and before we knew it, there they were! A group of bottlenose dolphins circled before clearly traveling north. There seemed to be two separate groups, but they were all headed north. We got a good number of dorsal fin photographs suitable for photo-ID, including this dolphin whose peduncle is covered in rake marks!  

Monday morning began with a casual lecture and Q&A session. The participants have many great questions and ideas – thank you! We’ll try another boat trip in the afternoon! 

Until then,

Kel & 2010 SCS Participants

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Some choppy weather and then, some dolphins!

The weather kept us back at the dock a bit this week. We did have a dolphin trip on Tuesday, but it was abbreviated because the chop was too severe for this week’s guests to safely get on and off the boat. So, we headed back to the dock hoping Mother Nature would calm down. On Wednesday the conditions were not any better, so it was a computer day. Thankfully, Thursday was significantly calmer so we headed out for the group’s final day. We had to wait awhile, but we did see two older calves/young juveniles. The water clarity was poor, but everyone was happy to get in the water. Back on the boat, we realized they were out of sight so we searched for new dolphins. We did find two more (apparently it was the day of twos!), including Addie (#84) and un-named #92. They were not interested in the boat and soon were out of view. It was only a few minutes later that we saw three more dolphins, including one or two that were in the first group! As they day came full circle, we had one more short swim before heading home, with the sunset chasing us. 

It looks there will be a bit of a break in dolphin trips over the next week, but stay tuned for more field reports before the end of the month! 

Until then,

Kel

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Mega-Dolphins

Bimini2010_T77_SunsetWe departed the Sea Crest Marina Sunday afternoon in the sunshine and heat, ready once again for dolphins. Although we had to wait a bit, we saw them – lots of them. At first we saw Tilly (#87) and some other youngsters. We had two opportunities to see the dolphins under water and there were so many! On the second entry, I counted at least 28! Included in the group, by the end of both swims, we’d seen Tina (#14), Lone Star (#56), Nemo (#76), Speedy (#78), Addie (#84), Tilly (#87) and many others. The final minutes were spent with two adults and two calves (mother/calf pairs??). It will be great to watch the video and ID one of the adults who spent lots of time close by, carefully showing both of her sides! 

We headed back a bit behind schedule, but the cloud cover to the west made for a beautiful sunset sky! 

Until tomorrow,

Kel

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Clear water, Friendly dolphins

A burst of high winds postponed our dolphin trip on Friday, but Saturday sure did work out well! We left the dock at 1530 and headed into calm seas, although there was a ground swell making the boat rock a bit. We were of course keeping our eyes out for dolphins, but it was once again them who found us. At first, we had Tina (#14), Speedy (#78) and Tilly (#87) checking out our bow and surfing in the swells. A larger group cruised through as well, so it was time to test the waters! Some of us hopped in first, including the MVA. The video data should show some good juvenile interactions, although some of the older dolphins did check out the background. On our second water entry, we also saw Lumpy (#17), Addie (#84) and, I think, Tim (#69). Hopefully I’ll get even more ID’s while reviewing the video! 

If the weather holds, there should be quite a few dolphin trips this week, so stay tuned! 

Until then,

Kel

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A wild weather week

Bimini2010_T75_CalmBiminiThis field report is a wrap up for the last of this year’s scheduled dolphin weeks with Bill & Nowdla Keefe’s Wild Dolphin Adventures. We had a small, but enthusiastic group of passengers who, among other qualities, was thankfully very patient. Our first trip was scheduled to be Sunday, but the frequent squalls kept us at the dock. On Monday, we headed into the wind, hoping for some better luck. Unfortunately, a new squall built up and crossed our path, sending us back to the safety of the dock. On Tuesday, we were able to spend much more time looking for dolphins, but had to remain close to shore as the seas continued to be unfavorable. While we were all wishing for calmer, sunnier weather, we also knew that this weather system was exactly what was keeping the fierce Hurricane Earl away from our shores; and for that, we were grateful. On Wednesday, we looked for dolphins close to Bimini and then headed south to Turtle Rocks for some snorkel time. Everyone enjoyed getting wet and seeing lots fish, rays and even a turtle!  

By Thursday everyone, myself included, was ready for the picturesque Bimini we all know and love. Thankfully, we got it (see picture)! It is amazing how quickly the weather can change (in either direction!), but we spent some extra time on the boat, in the sun and the gentler breeze, looking for dolphins. Although we still had to be patient, we did see them! Late in the day, we got a visit from White Blotch (#29), her un-named 6-year old calf, #94 and another un-named calf (not sure who it belongs to!). After a bow ride, we geared up and gently hopped in the water. The youngsters were very interested in the people, with lots of circle swims and some whistling. At couple different points we saw more adult dolphins passing by on the periphery. It was a great way to the end bumpy week! In fact, we even saw two bottlenose dolphins, as the sun was setting, on our way home… 

Until next time,

Kel

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Poor visibility won’t stop a dolphin swim!

We departed the dock Friday afternoon with a full boat of excited passengers. The seas were a bit choppy, but nothing we couldn’t handle. We saw the dolphins fairly early – a group of five relatively young dolphins were ready and willing to ride the bow of the boat. Included in the group were Tina (#14), Addie (#84) and Tilly (#87). Addie is our newest Bimini dolphin to receive a name through DCP’s Name-A-Dolphin program. Stay tuned for all of the exciting details, including Addie’s Facebook page, trading card and how you can be one of the first to adopt her! 

We had a great swim with this crew and even though the underwater visibility was poor, everyone got a good look. Back on the boat we saw that Nemo (#76) had joined the group as well as several adult dolphins. We had one more quick water entry and then the passengers had the opportunity to tow behind the boat in order to get a look at the busy dolphins. All in all, a great day! 

Until next time,

Kel

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A beautiful day in the – dolphin – neighborhood

Wednesday was another great day in Bimini. We headed out confident (as always) that we would see our spotted (or bottlenose) friends. We got a quick glimpse of what appeared to be a lone bottlenose dolphin, but it appeared to be actively avoiding the boat – so we headed on our way. With the sun setting earlier these days, we were beginning to worry about not seeing more dolphins as the sun dipped lower and lower in the sky. But then, seemingly out of nowhere, we saw them! At least eight spotted dolphins, including Split Jaw (#22), Billy (#64), Speedy (#78), Tilly (#87) and un-named #91. We had a great 20 minute swim with these guys and everyone was glowing back on the boat. As we headed home, we came across 3 separate groups of spotted dolphins! They were eager to bow ride and we got one more, quick, sunset swim with White Blotch (#29) and un-named #94. We also saw Tina (#14) and un-named #92. Another great day! 

Until tomorrow,

Kel

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Ah, spotted dolphins!

Bimini2010_T69We departed the dock shortly after 1600 today, anticipating some less-than-calm seas. Thankfully, it wasn’t too bad and even improved as the afternoon wore on. While we were all looking forward, scanning the ocean for dolphins, we suddenly saw an Atlantic spotted dolphin calf behind the boat, leaping toward us. Apparently this little ‘guy’ wanted to be seen! The dolphins were very active and we hopped in the water for some observations in their world. This first swim was a nice and our second swim was even better and longer. By the end of the day, we had seen Tina (#14), Prince William (#64), Niecey (#48), Speedy (#78). I also think Finn (#09) and Tim (#69) were there! Hopefully, even more dolphins will be ID’d once the video and still photos are reviewed. 

Another trip tomorrow!

Kel

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And we waited…

BIM10_T68_BimHarborThursday’s dolphin trip was the final trip of the week run by Al Sweeting, Jr. We all descended upon the boat, ready for dolphins, even if we were a bit tired from these busy weeks! I had seen a manta ray cruising the beach earlier in the morning so I was keeping my eyes peeled for that. I was so focused that I nearly missed the bottlenose dolphins right in front of me! Very close to the harbor entrance we saw a group of bottlenose dolphins who at first appeared to be feeding. That is a perfect time to observe these guys, but unfortunately there was too much boat traffic in the area to safely enter the water. Soon, it was clear that they were moving south anyway… 

It was a lot of waiting and watching until we saw our next dolphin. It appeared to be a lone bottlenose dolphin hanging just where the Great Bahama Bank meets the deep, deep Gulf Stream. It was on the move and soon we lost it (but not before getting dorsal fin photos for future ID work!). After this sighting we had to wait until 1900 for more dolphins! We saw scattered Atlantic spotted dolphins, including un-named adults #40 and 75. It was interesting that #75, an adult male, was hanging with what appeared to be two calves…hmmm….None of the dolphins was interested in us or the boat for too long, unfortunately. Our ride home including a beautiful pink sky and scattered bottlenose dolphins everywhere (or so it seemed). So, although it was not a great day for underwater data, it was still dolphin-filled. 

A couple of days on dry land and then more dolphin trips! 

Until then,

Kel

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Early bottlenose, very late spotteds

Bimini2010_T67_TtAfter the usual morning of email, paperwork and housework, I headed to the Sea Crest Hotel & Marina for a noon Intro to DCP talk to this week’s passengers (visiting researchers and students). As usual, it was a great audience – thank you! We departed the dock slightly early (1430) so that everyone could have a chance to snorkel the Bimini Road (aka “Atlantis”). Then it was time for dolphins…. 

We saw three different groups of bottlenose dolphins, with the second being just a “fly-by” from what appeared to be a lone dolphin. We continued in search of what we thought to be illusive spotted dolphins. We were heading back toward shore when the captain saw it – a splash – to the west. We headed into the setting sun uncertain of what he saw. But, there they were! At least 12 Atlantic spotted dolphins were around the boat, including Split Jaw (#22), Niecey (#48) and un-named #92. I’m hoping to ID more individuals when reviewing the video, even though visibility wasn’t great. It will be particularly interesting to review the video and acoustic data of Split Jaw and his interactions with three young dolphins. We arrived back to the dock in the dark, but happy! 

Until next time,

Kel

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A spotted-filled day!

Tuesday’s dolphin trip was filled with Atlantic spotted dolphins. The different dolphin groups all seemed to be traveling in a southerly direction, but some were more focused on this travel than others! That was the case with our first group of spotted dolphins, including White Blotch (#29), her calf, un-named #94, Trudy (#57) and six other, unknown animals. They were really on the move! We saw our second group of dolphins shortly after. The group size began at four and grew to at least 14 animals, including Lone Star (#56) and Stefran (#82). We had a few water entries and found ourselves suddenly with a different group of dolphins! This was a younger group and included un-named #84 and 92. ID#84 is a young female who, although now independent, is the offspring of Trudy (#57) – and, DCP is now offering the chance to name #84! Click here to learn how. 

As we headed back to the dock, we saw another small group of spotted dolphins, but they were not interested in us or the boat. Two more dolphin trips this week, so stay tuned! 

Until then,

Kel

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FLAT Seas!

Bimini2010_T65_C2We departed the dock shortly after 1500 and soon were observing a group of traveling bottlenose dolphins. Hopefully I’ll be able to get some IDs from the photos! Since this week’s boat passengers (visiting researchers and students) are more interested in spotted dolphins, we headed in search of them. Soon, we were watching a group of at least 10 Atlantic spotted dolphins, including Trudy (#57), Tilly (#87) and un-named #92 and #93. Over the course of the afternoon, the composition of the group changed, but we also saw Tina (#14), Split Jaw (#22), Lone Star (#56), Nemo (#76), Stefran (#82), un-named #40, #84 and possibly Cerra (#38). There were several water entries and at one point, we were watching a calf play with a blade of sea grass at the surface (pictured here). Unfortunately, we had to leave these dolphins with sunset looming. On the way back to Bimini, we were greeted by spotteds on the bow, including Finn (#09), Romeo (#10), White Blotch (#29), Lil’ Jess (#35), possibly #94 and two un-identified adults. As usual, White Blotch was one of the last dolphins to leave the bow! 

Until next time,

Kel

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There were dolphins, then more dolphins and then, well, more dolphins!

Bimini2010_T64S2_TtSunday’s dolphin trip was very overcast and we were worried this would make it difficult to see the dolphins. Ha! They made sure to prove us wrong! We departed the dock at 1511 with Bimini Adventures and by 1628 we were eagerly watching a group of at least 4 bottlenose dolphins! They seemed to be on the move, so we were too. Moments later, we saw a separate group of 2 bottlenose dolphins. They cruised right under the bow of the boat, giving me the opportunity to capture this picture! In the next ten minutes, we saw two more small groups of bottlenose dolphins. Perhaps they were all headed to the same place? 

We continued our search for dolphins, hoping for Atlantic spotteds. At 1730, we found them! At first there were four young dolphins, including Tilly (#87) and un-named #79. They were soon joined by several mother/calf pairs and some adult males. The count grew to 18 individual dolphins, including Trudy (#57), Stefran (#82) and un-named #43 and 75. With the sun setting before 2000 now, we soon had to head back to the dock and were joined by two adults and two calves on the bow until 1846. We were sure that would be all the dolphins for the day, but we saw even more bottlenose dolphins on the ride home! 

Until next time,

Kel

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Just in time

Bimini2010_T63_ID80_76After four days of weather challenges and no dolphin sightings, today was the day. The sea was wonderfully flat and although this made things very warm, it was a welcome change over the rough, stormy weather at the beginning of the week. We were all diligently searching for dolphins and then, halfway into the trip, there they were. We knew it was a lot of dolphins, but we were amazed when our count reached 28 Atlantic spotted dolphins! At times, the group was quite cohesive and at others, somewhat scattered. We had two opportunities to swim with the dolphins, the second of which was the longest. Over the course of the afternoon we saw Buster (#04), Lumpy (#17), Split Jaw (#22), Lone Star (#56), Nemo (#76), Speedy (#78), Leslie (#80), Stefran (#82) and un-named #40, 24, 75. I think Billy (#64) was also there! And, I think we’ll ID even more individuals after reviewing photographs and video. In this photo, you can see Leslie and Nemo interacting closely; the water was so calm, I took this picture from the surface! With very satisfied passengers, we headed back to the dock! 

On Friday morning I’ll visit the Coral Reef II again. This time, I’ll have a Q&A session with students from the Chicago City Day School. I can’t wait to hear what they have to say! 

Until next time,

Kel

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A calm, postcard day

Wednesday finally looked like the Bimini we are used to: sunshine and calm seas. We departed the dock in mid-afternoon and passengers were soon snorkeling at 3 Sisters. There was some trepidation regarding a nurse shark and lots of squealing when folks noticed the very curious remora. Lots of good fish and snorkel practice for everyone though. As we headed in search of dolphins, we were all confident that we would see many. They must have had other plans though, as we did not see them all afternoon. It is obviously disappointing for the boat passengers, but all understand that misses can happen (even on the nicest day) when hoping to see wild animals. It’s always good for the researchers to remind themselves too! We have very, very high hopes for Thursday so stay tuned. 

Until then,

Kel

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A busy day, but no dolphins…

Tuesday began with an Intro to DCP talk to this week’s guests, a group of visiting researchers and students. After lunch, it was boat time. Although we still had squalls in the area, it was much sunnier than the previous two days. In fact, on Monday, it the squalls were so bad, they sent us back to the dock less than one hour after we departed. Today, the skies were clearer, but the seas were a bit rough. We diligently kept our eyes open for dolphins, but unfortunately, we saw none. The forecast for tomorrow and Thursday is much more favorable, so everyone is confident we will end on very high notes! 

Until then,

Kel

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Dolphins over here, dolphins over there….well, dolphins everywhere!

Bimini2010_T60_TtThursday morning began early with a farewell breakfast and a mad dash to the airport for Cat & Janan. Thanks again for your hard work! For me, it was back to the solo grind, prepping for the boat and heading out shortly after 1600 with a private dolphin trip charter with Bill & Nowdla Keefe. We didn’t need to wait long and soon we saw a group of at least 18 dolphins! They were slightly scattered so the count was difficult. But, included in the group were Lone Star (#56), Stefran (#82), Tilly (#87) and un-named #84. We had two short swim with these dolphins, but they seemed to be on the move. Soon, we were looking for others and were not disappointed! Only minutes later we saw our second group of Atlantic spotted dolphins, this time five individuals. But, this group was completely disinterested in our presence, so after they ducked and avoided the boat, we left them. And guess what? Only minutes later we saw more dolphins! Nemo (#76), Leslie (#80) and an un-known adult were on the move. They came in for a nice bowride and the guests were able to get a look at Nemo’s “lucky fin.” 

As we headed closer to the island, we saw dolphins jumping in the deep water and later got to see at least seven bottlenose dolphins. While I stayed onboard to collect dorsal fin photographs, the crew and passengers got a super close underwater look. We were all prepared for that to be the highlight of the day and continued back to shore… 

Our ride was pleasantly interrupted by our seventh sighting of the day! This group of at least six spotteds included Split Jaw (#22), Billy (#64) and, I think, Vincent (#11). I can’t wait to review the video to be sure! There were one or two calves in the group and although water visibility wasn’t great (outgoing tide!), the dolphins came super close to us. A great end to the day! 

Until next time,

Kel

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Really, it’s August 4th?

Bimini2010_T59_TtWe’re not sure where the last four weeks went, but they have certainly flown by! Janan & Cat spent the early part of this week finishing up DCP tasks and cramming in a last bit island exploring and socializing. Then, Wednesday marked the 2010 summer interns’ last dolphin trip! We headed out with a full boat of excited passengers. While we did not get a chance to observe any dolphins underwater, we did have four separate sightings of bottlenose dolphins. Nearly all were in pairs and we got good, but quick views of all of them.  

Thursday morning Janan & Cat will depart and head to their respective homes. They were a fantastic team and DCP is grateful for all of their hard work! Stay tuned for the upcoming Dolphin Gazette for reflections from the interns. 

Until next time,

Kel, Cat & Janan

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A report from our day off!

Bimini2010_LoggerheadHatchlingSaturday was our day off and we were once again surrounded by nature! Kel was awakened by a phone call, reporting that a loggerhead turtle nest was hatching! She raced to the beach to see how things were going and found at least a dozen tracks leading to the sea. As we began gently excavating the nest, we found some hatchlings were still digging their way out. Because of the human impacts to the beach, we carefully collected 11 turtles and placed them closer to the water line (but not too close as we were told they need to feel the temperature change of the sand as they approach the sea). It was amazing! After sunset, Janan and Cat helped with the night-release of those turtles that hatched in the daylight in a bucket. There were 15 baby sea turtles being released, and each of us was given a sea turtle to watch scuttle across the sand towards the ocean.  We got to hold them and put them in the dry sand and then we watched by starlight to make sure each one made it to the water. We are crossing our fingers that at least a few survive! 

Earlier in the day, Cat and Kel did something else out of the box; rather than swimming with the dolphins, we were swimming with the Caribbean reef sharks! There were four sharks gracefully swimming around the coral, seeming to ignoring our presence. Although every once in a while they would swim around us, perhaps to get a better view of the strange snorkelers that were swimming with them. It was a fantastic experience and it was wonderful to observe another aspect of Bimini’s oceans. It also fit well with DCP’s newest Squidoo page: Sharks and Dolphins. Click here to check it out! 

Until next time,

Cat, Janan & Kel

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Some work and some play!

Bimini2010_SeahorseFriday morning we all headed out to the Coral Reef II again to share some information about DCP. This week, instead of high school students, we met with some teachers from the Chicago area. They were a great audience with lots of questions and we were all invited to stay for lunch to continue our discussions! (Thanks for the great meal and conversation!)  

In the afternoon we had a day off from dolphin trips. We headed out on the boat for a fun-filled afternoon of reading, swimming, free diving, and eating with several other families from the island. As we were driving the boat to our beach spot, we saw several manta rays in the shallow water just a few feet from the beach! A few of us jumped in the water to investigate; it was really cool to watch it filter feed in the water! We think there were three altogether. Later in the day one of the kids discovered two small seahorses in a small tuft of seagrass under water. Everyone got to free dive down and check them out. It was the first time we had ever seen seahorses in the wild! Even on a day off wildlife finds us!  

Until next time, Janan, Cat & Kel

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What a Finale!

Bimini2010_T58_Billy064Thursday we set off at about 15:20 on our last dolphin trip of the week. Everyone had a great time at the Bimini Road (aka Atlantis) for a nice snorkel and swim to cool off! Then we headed off to look for dolphins, and at about 17:00 we found them! We came across a large group of at least 10 spotted dolphins, including Finn (#09), Romeo (#10), Whiteblotch (#29), Lil Jess (#35), Speedy (#78), and 3 young calves. We jumped in for a swim and even more dolphins joined us including un-named #43. We eventually left the water because the dolphins were scattered around the boat feeding. We watched them feed from the boat for awhile, and then a bit later they started playing around the boat again so we got to try another swim! It was a FANTASTIC swim with lots of dolphins, including the dolphins from earlier plus SplitJaw (#22), Trudy (#57), Billy (#64, pictured here), Tim (#69), Tilly (#87), and un-named #91. They stayed with us for quite some time and even let us observe them mating! Finally everyone returned to the boat and the passengers celebrated with conch salad and rum punch on the ride home. Then, at about 19:00, we even had a quick glimpse of 2 bottlenose dolphins! What a great way to end a super week!  

Until next time,

Janan, Cat & Kel

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Dolphin Acrobatics

BIM10_T57_YoungSfsWednesday was a great day for dolphins! As per usual we set out around 16:00 with another gorgeous sunny day. The winds were calm and right away we saw dolphins! Three bottlenose dolphins were in the distance, and eventually they came close to the boat so we could check them out. They didn’t seem interested in staying though, so we continued on towards the dolphin grounds, even skipping our snorkel stop! We were rewarded with another brief bottlenose sighting at about 17:00; just one lone dolphin (or so it appeared). Apparently it was leading us to other dolphins because lo and behold 5 minutes later we saw a large group of active spotted dolphins! They were jumping and leaping out of the water! Because the day was so calm and flat we could see them leap and splash far in the distance. Eventually we caught up to them and they really enjoyed riding our bow and leaping in the wake behind the boat. We saw Billy (#64), Speedy (#78), Tilly (#87), un-named #84, as well as 3 playful calves. The dolphins hung around for quite awhile and we had the chance to swim with them three times! The third time was a bit exciting because we were in a sea of jellyfish! The dolphins didn’t seem to have any problem with any of the jellies but we tried to give them their distance! After a great afternoon full of dolphins we finally had to head in under the setting sun. Let’s hope tomorrow is another fantastic day! 

Until next time,

Janan, Cat & Kel

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It Takes Two!

Tuesday we set out on another beautiful, calm day! We headed out and went straight to the dolphin grounds. Passengers kept their eyes peeled, and finally at about 18:15 we saw spotted dolphins! Just two spotted dolphins were around today, including un-named #75 and another adult. After a bit of bow riding they headed off. Although we kept our fingers crossed to see more dolphins, none showed up for our sunset ride home. Hopefully we will see more tomorrow! 

Until next time,

Janan, Cat & Kel

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Full House!

BIM10_T55_SfCalf_CKochMonday we had beautiful weather for another dolphin trip. We headed out at around 16:00 with calm waters and the sun shining! The boat was full of passengers and we were all excited for some dolphins! And boy the day was a success! After a snorkel stop at “3 Sisters,” we headed into the dolphin grounds and soon after saw at least 6 bottlenose dolphins at about 17:30! We watched them for a bit, collecting dorsal fin photographs, and then headed off in search of spotteds. At about 18:40, we found a group of 10 spotted dolphins including Lone Star (#56), Trudy (#57), Stefran (#82) and several high-energy calves. The calves were jumping and leaping out of the water (see photo, taken by Cat). Everyone jumped in the water and had a quick swim with the dolphins. We followed them for awhile and tried one more swim but the dolphins swam off. However, on the way home they continued to bow ride with us! All in all it was a great day! 

Until next time,

Janan, Cat & Kel

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Over the Rainbow

Sunday started a new dolphin week with Nowdla Keefe. We left Bimini about 16:00 and headed out to sea. After a nice snorkel stop at “The Bimini Road” (aka “Atlantis”), we continued out towards the dolphin feeding grounds. Luckily the wind was much calmer than last week, so we were able to actually leave the coastal waters! Unfortunately, despite being able to travel further, we did not see any dolphins. But at the end of the trip there was a small rainstorm over Bimini and we did see two beautiful rainbows right at sunset! We are crossing our fingers for dolphins tomorrow! 

Until next time,

Janan, Cat & Kel

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SCUBA! But Unfortunately no Dolphins – in real life, anyway…

Thursday our dolphin trip was unfortunately canceled due to bad weather. However, we interns out Thursday morning and for two SCUBA dives with Bimini Undersea! Our first dive was at “Little Caverns”, a 70ft dive. Cat and Janan were buddies and enjoyed swimming around the large rocky clumps of coral. We especially liked seeing the lionfish! Even if they are pests (and invasive species), they sure look cool! Our second dive was at “The Strip”, which we both really enjoyed. It was a shallower dive to 40ft, and the visibility was great. We saw tons of fish in little schools, two moray eels, and even a small nurse shark! We will be sure to go out again as soon as we can! 

It has been super windy all week and Friday was more of the same – plus some. The storm that was brewing in the area meant very few boats were braving the ocean. While we waited out Tropical Storm Bonnie, we interns got our first taste of Bimini video logging! We went over some video footage with Kel and learned how she does it here. It is a little different from what we were working on RIMS video data in CT, but we got the hang of it. Identifying the dolphins is totally different though. It is tricky to get used to comparing their spot patterns, but hopefully we will keep improving our skills. The afternoon was spent doing data analysis and working on a new Squidoo page. Both of us are working on the webpage, which is about the importance of sharks and dolphins in a healthy ecosystem (we’ll let you know when it’s published!). Cat has been working on identifying photos of bottlenose dolphin dorsal fins, and Janan has been entering all the trip logs into the computer. We are all hoping for good weather and lots of successful dolphin trips next week! 

Until next time,

Janan, Cat & Kel

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Mother Nature: 1, The Adventurer: 0

Tuesday we were unable go on a dolphin trip because it was so windy! All the trees on the island looked like they were growing horizontal; not a good sign for a boat ride. Wednesday began earlier than usual as we met with students from the Shedd Aquarium’s High School Marine Biology program. The students had just seen a group of 7 bottlenose dolphins and were ready with lots of great questions. It was wonderful to spend the morning with such excited, young scientists. Later in the afternoon, we headed out hoping the wind would be a bit more forgiving, and luckily it was slightly better. We set out at about 16:00, but again had to stay close to shore since it was still pretty blustery. At about 17:40 we saw a turtle coming up to breathe! He seemed able to brave the waves. Unfortunately, the turtle was the only animal we saw today. Despite everybody’s positive thinking and binoculars, no dolphins were observed today. Hopefully tomorrow they will all be out to say hello! 

Until next time,

Janan, Cat & Kel

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Everybody’s Surfing!

Bimini2010_T52_TtIf we thought yesterday was windy, Mother Nature gave a new sense of perspective! Monday was windier and the waves were larger. The passengers aboard the boat were great sports and kept smiles on their faces throughout the trip. After a bumpy start at 16:30, we made it out of the harbor and braved the coastal waters in search of dolphins. Unfortunately due to the wind, we couldn’t go out very far so we did lots of slow loops along the length of Bimini. After lots of patience and a thorough soaking, we saw 3 bottlenose dolphins at about 18:40 riding the waves. They did some bow riding but today even our boat couldn’t compare to the size of the natural waves. They gave us a good show, surfing waves in unison. Once we lost sight of them, we headed home wet and happy.  

Until the next trip,

Janan, Cat & Kel

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Hold onto Your Hats!

Bimini2010_T51_BusterSunday began another week of dolphin trips with Bill & Nowdla Keefe. We set out at about 16:00 with the sun shining, the wind blowing and passengers eager to see dolphins! Everyone picked a spot on the boat and held on as we rode the waves in search of dolphins. We had a nice snorkel stop at “3 Sisters”, and then continued our dolphin search. We hoped that the dolphins would stay close to Bimini since it was so blustery. Not only were they close to shore, but they even found us! At 17:35 10 spotted dolphins rode the waves to join our party, and at 17:40 we hopped in the water to join them! We had a good swim with several individuals, including Buster (#04), Finn (#09), Romeo (#10), Trudy (#57), Billy (#64), and un-named calf #91. Kel was unable to join Cat and Janan with the MVA because of the rough conditions, but we managed to get some pictures during the swim, including this one of Buster (#04, top dolphin). Eventually the dolphins headed off, probably to continue surfing the waves as we humans headed back in to shore. Luckily the ride back wasn’t quite so rough!  

Until the next windy trip,

Janan, Cat & Kel

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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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