Bahamas 2000
Ending with a Bang!
04 Dec 2021

Ending with a Bang!

Our last AM data collection session was filled with many exciting interactions and all kinds of switch-a-roos – between adult females and calves and young dolphins playing amongst themselves! After a fortifying breakfast, we returned to Bailey’s Key to meet Maury and Poli during our encounters, and then to swim with the dolphins! The swim was amazing!! It was a lot of group swimming, some speed swims, lots of interest by Poli and Sandy in several of us. There was also some rough housing between Rocky and Buzz. Our afternoon was our daytime boat snorkel, or a shore snorkel, or some kayaking … below are our individual impressions:

Mary – Today I learned that the dolphins and I share a very happy and playful attitude when I was able to engage in play with them.

Brie – Seeing the dolphins up close was my favorite part of the day. Also, hearing about sea turtles fascinated me even more because I love sea turtles.

Karla – Drift snorkeling, swimming with dolphins, getting licked by a dolphin, and making memories with my new friends was a great way to end the week. I will forever be grateful for everything I learned this week, especially the new perspectives.

Riley – Today, I made a new friend. Poli, you can eat my fins any day.

Santi – At the end of my Roatan journey, Poli gifted me with a rock, a symbol of all the things I learned and experienced along the way, and I will carry all these things with me into the future.

Leo – Before this trip I was honestly considering maybe changing my minor or major due to a slump that I had been experiencing. While I was wondering what would be a better fit for me, I came to Roatan, made bonds I will never forget and fostered a new love for marine life that I hope will carry me on into my future endeavors.

Cidney – I can confirm that coral is cooler with dolphins!

Celli – Playing with Poli during the snorkel is an experience I will never forget. And, I’m happy to have experienced it with everybody.

Nicole – I’m sad that our week in Roatan is coming to an end. But I’m grateful for the experiences and knowledge I have gained with my rattler cudas. Also, Maury licked me during our encounter!

Andrew – I almost collided head-on with a charging dolphin today. It was really fun! I feel very fortunate that I got to be here for the week. And I feel fortunate to have made all my new friends.

Diego – dolphin shave such a unique texture. It was amazing to have dolphins swimming among us!

Irene – It was sad to see the dolphins for the last time in person today. However, it was surreal to interact with them after learning so much about them this week.

Rebekah – I have never been an animal person but this trip has changed me. Through observations, lectures, and swimming with dolphins, I’ve learned a lot and can’t wait for something like this again.

Mia – Swimming with the dolphins was incredible but it’s terrifying when they all come at you at once.

Dr. K – I am very thankful that we are able to give the students this experience. I hope they look back on it for years to come as a life-changing trip.

Dr. H. – ditto to Dr. K.

We travel home tomorrow ... here's to a good night sleep and a smooth travel day tomorrow.


Kathleen and the “self-renamed” group: The “oooooo - Rattler ‘Cudas”

Rain, not-Rain, then more Rain, followed by some “fun in the sun”
03 Dec 2021

Rain, not-Rain, then more Rain, followed by some “fun in the sun”

The dolphins were playful again this morning. There were some side leaps, some chases, and lots of seagrass and seedpod play. Our observations were ‘dry’ as the rain held off until breakfast. The downpour postponed our encounter and swim from this morning to tomorrow morning because the underwater visibility dropped severely. So, we shifted to some indoor and some outdoor (between rain drops) activities. We had a brief career informal discussion followed by more inter-tidal critter GIS tagging and a bit of data entry. Lunch was punctuated by more raindrops that subsided enough for us to get our COVID tests (all negative – hurray!). We reviewed the morning’s video for ID practice and had our second quiz of the week (on corals). And, the rain let up enough for us to visit the Mayan Jungle and zip-line adventure. Here are our impressions of the day:

Leo – I didn’t go zip-lining but I did have an excellent view of the sheep and their young. And I thought it was really fun to see Diego experiencing something for the first time.

Cidney – I’m thankful the rain stopped so we were able to have the zoo and zip-lining experience.

Celli – I got to zip-line upside down and hold a sloth for the first time. Ten out of ten – highly recommend it!

Mary – I was pretty disappointed when we couldn’t do our dolphin encounter today, but I was very glad that we could go see the animals and zip-lining this afternoon. (DCP p.s. – dolphins tomorrow)

Brie – Zip-lining was definitely outside of my comfort zone. But I’m glad I did it. I also enjoyed interacting with the sloth, monkeys, and parrot.

Irene – I enjoyed interacting with all the animals and watching the monkeys obsess over Santiago’s and Cidney’s hair.

Rebekah – Zip-lining was freaking awesome!!! The view was amazing and I had fun with my friends.

Karla – I really loved the view while zip-lining even when I was upside down.

Riley – SLOTHS!!! My love for them has grown even stronger. It’s so fluffy!

Santi – I enjoyed hanging out and cradling the sloth like a wee baby. I also had a relaxing time at the macaw spa (i.e., the parrot was massaging my head).

Nicole – It was my first-time going zip-lining today. And it was badass to see the greenery and the ocean from above the treetops.

Andrew – Zip-lining was fun and holding a sloth was one of my favorite parts of the whole trip. It was very exciting to get to hold lots of cool animals. ALSO Finally DONE with grad aps.

Diego – I enjoyed ziplining as it was very exhilarating. I have been on a ski lift but zip-lining was really something else.

Mia – During zip-lining I went upside down, which considering I was very nervous I’m pretty proud of myself.

Dr. H – I am super proud of all of our students for being flexible for their ability to switch gears every 45 minutes today!

Dr. K – as much fun as we’ve had here, I’m very thankful everyone tested negative for COVID and we don’t have to quarantine here for two weeks together!

Our evening was spent watching Escape from Extinction, American Humane’s film about the sixth mass extinction and the role of today’s zoos and aquariums in combating that process. After a long day, our students were enthralled by the film and the inroads being made by zoos and aquariums to counter human impacts on our natural world. We strongly encourage folks interested in protecting our world to watch this film and to visit an accredited zoo or aquarium.

Until then, cheers

Kathleen and the “self-renamed” group: The “oooooo - Rattler ‘Cudas”

Data – dolphins, space use, tidal zone critters – and Fiesta Night!
02 Dec 2021

Data – dolphins, space use, tidal zone critters – and Fiesta Night!

Our water taxi ride at 6:15 AM was smooth and deposited us to Bailey’s Key where the dolphins were playful and engaged! We had several mom/calf pairs swimming all around and almost everyone playing! Sandy was never without a blade of seagrass. Buzz and Rocky wrestled and mouthed at each other. And, there was much allo-parenting (i.e., babysitting) ongoing. Bailey hung out with Calli and her calf. Poli swam with Gracie’s calf … while Gracie was close by and monitoring. And Elli seemed to herd her calf away from Maury. And, both Alita and Maury had their calves, Buzz and Rocky, when these two males weren’t rolling over each other!


Space use data – our study to investigate how the dolphins use their lagoon area – was collected with Kathleen’s session and also in the late morning with a dolphin encounter and swim (see front post photo). We continue to improve and feel more comfy with the process. Because we all had to remain on the main dock area for these observations, we split the group between space use data collection and intertidal data collection; i.e., using GPS to geo tag the critters we observed and documented – including lobster, conch, a moray eel, and other tide-zone animals.

Intertidal at Baileys:

A yummy lunch was followed by watching the video from the morning data collection session – very neat to see the play activity from the underwater perspective. We also practiced our recognition of the different dolphin IDs while watching the morning’s video. Once the video was watched, we had a lecture on communication – mostly on dolphins but also applicable to all animals.

We were thrilled to be given our first 2+ hrs of free time before the Fiesta Night dinner! Some of us entered data, some napped, a few of us visited the gift shop, others kayaked and/or snorkeled. Some of us did a combination of two or more of these activities!

Fiesta night was loud and delicious. The meal was a buffet had on Anthony’s Key with live music, a crab race, Garifuna dancers, and a limbo contest! Santiago’s hermit crab won the crab race (Woohoo!). Leo and Diego were kings of the limbo. And, Rebekah, Mia, Aracelli, and Nicole won the dance contest! Woohoo – go rattlers!

Congrats Santiago!

Tomorrow brings our dolphin encounter and swim and a few other surprises!

Until then, cheers

Kathleen and the “self-renamed” group: The “oooooo - Rattler ‘Cudas”

The Night Snorkel! Intertidal zone observations and, of course, dolphin data collection
01 Dec 2021

The Night Snorkel! Intertidal zone observations and, of course, dolphin data collection

This morning was a quiet session for the dolphins – lots of pair swims and low activity levels. But, the visibility was good and we were able to see the mother/calf pairs in group swims. After a yummy breakfast, we spent the morning identifying animals that live in the inter-tidal zones around Anthony’s Key. There were crabs, urchins, chitons, and more. Late morning had us entering our space use data and confirming GIS positioning from the panoramic photos. This is a new method but should help us examine how dolphins are using their space in the main lagoon. The afternoon saw us observing training sessions – e.g., Maury encouraging her son, Rocky to gate, and collecting a bit more space use data associated with the training session. Here are Tilly and Sandy checking Kathleen out ...

And, we had our first boat snorkel of the week that was also our first night snorkel. The night sky was brilliant with stars on the short ride back to AKR. Here are our impressions of the day:

Brie – The gate training session with Maury and Rocky really made me excited for our encounter in a couple of days, and our night snorkel was amazing.

Mary – Snorkeling, especially night snorkeling, was something that I never thought I would voluntarily do but it turned out to be one of the coolest experiences of my life.

Karla – I really enjoyed the data entry and seeing how everyone takes the notes differently. The training session with Teri (trainer) was really nice and I really appreciated her explanation of what she was doing.

Riley – I liked going into the darkness while Cidney was shining around the flashlight underwater and then finding each other again.

Santi – I appreciated the “eustress” generated by swimming over a stingray during the night snorkel!

Leo – I thought that when a light was flashed over the fry fish in the water it was quite the contrast between them and the stars in the night sky that seemed only a few inches above you.

Cidney – I felt thankful for Riley when I started swimming toward the wrong boat during the night snorkel.

Celli – Everything about the night snorkel blew my expectations and it makes me happy that everyone is saying they never thought they’d do it but they really enjoyed it!

Nicole – I loved seeing the training session take place with Maury and Rocky when the trainer was teaching Rocky how to gate. Maury herded Rocky through the gate and seemed to reassure him about the gate.

Andrew – I’ve always really liked rays and it was really really cool to see one. It freaked me out a little bit but I knew it would be ok.  

Diego – I enjoyed the night snorkel a lot. It was cool to see how camouflaged porcupine fish are with the sea grass.

Rebekah – The night snorkel was freaking awesome and I’m glad I had Celli to point out the fish. And, the training session with the dolphins was cute.

Irene – I enjoy the bonds that are being built here at AKR on Roatan. It’s heartwarming because we didn’t really know each other before this trip.

Mia – I didn’t know that porcupine fish could be so huge, thank you night snorkel for educating me.

Tomorrow will arrive sooner that we expect and will bring us another full day of activities!

Until then, cheers

Kathleen and the “self-renamed” group: The “oooooo - Rattler ‘Cudas”

Instructions are important!
30 Nov 2021

Instructions are important!

Today was a great day that began with dolphin observations at Bailey’s Key (Lots of play was observed - see Tank here with a mangrove seed pod!) and then we spent the day at Maya Key snorkeling, investigating the replica of the Mayan ruin at Copan, and checking out the rescued animals calling the key home.

Leo – Due to today’s incredible snorkeling experience I have decided that I would like to have more experience working with coral. Because it’s amazing how much a colony of small organisms can group and sustain their ecosystem over time in different ways.

Karla – I really enjoyed swimming on the reef drop-off at Maya Key this morning. It was really hard to not get lost and go off the deep end.

Riley – The snorkeling today showed me a lot of fish from the Fish ID talk of last night, which gave me more knowledge of the area.

Mary – Fish no longer freak me out. Only coral scare me since I found out why fire coral is called that name (I’m ok!). It also made me less afraid of the water because I encountered coral and I am ok!

Brie – the snorkeling near the drop off made me really excited and has fascinated me to maybe get a diving certification.  

Nicole – doing the observations this morning was a lot more insightful after being familiar with the directions and it was fascinating to see all the play behavior ongoing. Also, snorkeling was really fun and I got obsessed looking at the fish and wandered off a bit too far from my buddy (and then regrouped). (Nicole seen here snorkeling!)

Mia – I enjoyed the coral restoration presentation. I knew about coral nurseries but did not know the function of it but that was really educational.

Irene – I learned to swim for this trip and today I snorkeled in the deep ocean for the first time and it was intimidating but beautiful.

Diego – after a wonderful session of snorkeling and sitting through a lecture about coral I have reevaluated small personal choices that I can make every day to protect reef life. One person can make a difference.

Andrew – I’ve been thinking a lot more about cognitive because of grad apps but snorkeling and learning about dolphins reminds me how much I like comparative psychology.

Santi – I appreciated the ability to snorkel with a vest because it gave me an opportunity I might not have taken.

Cidney – seeing two wild elkhorn colonies made me hopeful for their recovery.

Rebekah – snorkeling was a blast and I wasn’t scared like I thought I’d be. The dolphins were super fun this morning and I liked shopping in the gift shop at Maya Key.

(Rebekah taking notes this morning!)

Celli – I am thankful to have dropped my phone in the shallow water and not the deep ocean during the snorkeling.

Dr. K – I was extremely proud that everyone went snorkeling!

Dr. H – I am also proud that everyone finished the entire snorkel session (~45 min!).

Our afternoon was filled with a coral restoration lecture, GIS training for the space-use-data collected each morning, and reviewing the morning’s video observation data. Another full but fun day!

Until then, cheers

Kathleen and the “self-renamed” group: The “oooooo - Rattler ‘Cudas”

Our First Full Day at AKR and RIMS!
29 Nov 2021

Our First Full Day at AKR and RIMS!

Today was a long but full day and included dolphin observations, classroom lectures, panoramic photo training, GPS-use training, a bird-ID challenge, reef snorkeling from shore, an inter-tidal critter hunt (with cameras!), and the fish ID lecture in the RIMS classroom. Of course, meals and water taxi rides punctuated those events!

Here, some of us return after picking up our snorkel gear from the dive shop (Thanks Brie!).

Below is everyone’s favorite part of their day …

Dr. K – My favorite thing of today was when Dr. H and I went kayaking at sunset to try to see the green flash. We missed it but had fun kayaking.

Rebekah – I liked seeing how the dolphins reacted when we first got to Bailey’s Key this morning.

Andrew – I very much enjoyed kayaking at sunset.

Karla – I thought it was really interesting to learn about all the fishes during the fish ID talk from Pete. And, that several species have ‘fake’ eyes on their bodies to ‘fake out’ predators.

Cidney – it made me sad to see diseased coral on our snorkel.

Irene – I found it interesting that stress hormones are present whether from positive or negative stressors.

Mia – it was really interesting to see the coral reefs. I had expected them to be very colorful like in photos … they are more neutral, but still beautiful.

Aracelli – I loved being able to hear the dolphins’ whistles underwater during snorkeling.

Leo – after observing dolphins and tidepools, I realized that you miss a lot of beautiful things in life by overlooking them.

Santiago – I had fun searching for slugs and crabs with my very insightful teammates.

Riley – I enjoyed finally getting to start my field season in Roatan and coding dolphin behavior from a larger environment.

Nicole – it was my first time snorkeling and it was really cool to see the coral up close.

Brie – I found it interesting to analyze the video of the dolphins’ social behavior and get a better perspective of being able to ID them from rake marks on certain parts of their bodies.

Mary – I found it very interesting that dolphins don’t make facial expressions. I thought they were smiling because they were always happy. And it was weird but cool in a good way that they can see 180° with both eyes.

Diego – I found it interesting to learn of dolphin anatomy – not something I was familiar with, but it helped with identifying dolphin sex.

Dr. H – it made me happy to see the dolphins play. And it made me happy that no StMU student drowned during snorkeling today!

Kathleen – I enjoyed having Elli introduce me to her calf!

Tomorrow will bring more observations of dolphins, more space use data collection, and a visit to Maya Key with more snorkeling!

Until then, cheers

Kathleen and the “self-renamed” group: The “oooooo - Rattler ‘Cudas”


Here, we wait for the water taxi while Kathleen shares insight on the dolphins.

Here, we practice our GPS training!

Travel to Roatan – we made it!
28 Nov 2021

Travel to Roatan – we made it!

We traveled from three different cities to all converge on Roatan … and we all made it! The cover photo is the group after getting to AKR, but before taking the water taxi to the key and our rooms!

Of course, we were all more awake than our first group morning photo … taken at San Antonio airport!

After settling in our rooms and shifting to shorts from travel wear, we went to the RIMS classroom and got oriented to Roatan, AKR, and introduced to the research and our week.

Thankfully, dinner followed this orientation and we all relaxed and enjoyed a delightful meal!

Tomorrow begins with a meeting at the water taxi to head over to Bailey’s Key by 6:20 AM.

Until then, here are some afternoon photos to share.


Kathleen, Heather, Melissa & the reef rattlers (temporary name until the group comes up with a snazzy one!)

Pre-Check and Last-Minute Zoom Chat before Travel!
26 Nov 2021

Pre-Check and Last-Minute Zoom Chat before Travel!

Finally, after almost 19 months of waiting, the St. Mary’s University (StMU) student group is heading to Roatan with DCP! Our program was postponed from the original dates in March 2020, due to COVID and caution. But, this morning, we all completed our Honduras Pre-Check forms online and reviewed logistics for tomorrow’s travel. Excitement is in the air! We are all looking forward to traveling to Roatan and Anthony’s Key Resort (AKR). There are 15 students and two professors from StMU and me from DCP joining this group. We depart from three cities on our journeys to Roatan and AKR.

Throughout the week, you’ll get to know our student participants - Rebekah, Andrew, Karla, Maddie, Cidney, Irene, Mia, Aracelli, Leo, Santiago, Riley, Mia, Nicole, Brianna, Mary, and Diego - and Drs. H. & K. better through these field reports.

For now, we’ll focus on making sure our last-minute items are packed, our passports and vaccination cards are ready, and our travel snacks are available for our flights.

Until tomorrow, from Roatan …


Kathleen & the StMU field course group (name to be confirmed by the group tomorrow night!)

P.S. we look forward to seeing the dolphins, especially Elli, seen here with a piece of seagrass … an invite to play??

UPCOMING Free Webinars!

DCP Webinars are Back!

DCP launched our free webinar series in 2020. We were thrilled to have our live participants and are happy that each program is recorded and accessible at any time on our website and on our YouTube channel

Dolphin Lessons are geared toward elementary ages. Live Dolphin Lessons require a password to join. Dolphin Lessons generally run 20 - 35 minutes.

Deep Dives have ages 14+ in mind, but everyone is welcome. Deep Dives run 40 - 60 minutes.


DCP Deep Dive: Translators of the Pacific Ocean's Stories - Watch the Recording Here

In this Deep Dive, Dr. Amy C. Hirons will discuss the ways in which the largest ocean basin on the planet is a collector of both nature's and man's history. Plants and animals can be used to help interpret what the oceans have recorded through time.

Dr. Hirons, an Associate Professor and oceanographer at Nova Southeastern University's Oceanographic Center, has spent the past 25 years studying the planet's oceans directly and with the use of various plants and animals. Her work takes her from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Having grown up in Hawai'i and lived in Alaska, remote locations are nothing new to her.

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


DCP Deep Dive: Let's Play, The development of sexual play in belugas

In this Deep Dive, you’ll learn about how sexual play behaviors develop in young belugas. Answering questions such as what does beluga sexual play look like? and do they have preferences in who they play with?, it will be a playful talk, indeed!

Jackson Ham is a PhD student at the University of Lethbridge, Canada, studying Behavioral Neuroscience. His research focuses on the development and neurobiology of play behavior. This program is geared toward ages 14 and up, but all are welcome.

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

Tuesday 14 December 2021, 5:00 p.m. ET

Zoom Link: (or use Meeting ID 842 3124 3531)


DCP Dolphin Lesson: Stay tuned for 2022 programs!

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

Stay tuned for date & time

Zoom Link: TBD (or Meeting ID TBD)

--Live Dolphin Lessons have a password. We hope to use the same password all season. Email DCP at info{at}dcpmail{dot}org to receive the password.---

DCP Deep Dive: Translators of the Pacific Ocean's Stories

*Content warning: images of dead animals (unknown cause and indigenous hunting), blubber dissection, and the topic of subsistence hunting are shown/discussed during this talk. Examples of trauma and challenges to ocean animals are discussed.*

In this Deep Dive, Dr. Amy C. Hirons discusses the ways in which the largest ocean basin on the planet is a collector of both nature's and man's history. Plants and animals can be used to help interpret what the oceans have recorded through time.

Dr. Hirons, an Associate Professor and oceanographer at Nova Southeastern University's Oceanographic Center, has spent the past 25 years studying the planet's oceans directly and with the use of various plants and animals. Her work takes her from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Having grown up in Hawai'i and lived in Alaska, remote locations are nothing new to her.

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

Dr. Hiron’s lab is the CMOL-Charismatic Megafauna and Oceanography Laboratory, with their research consortium SECLER (Study of Environmental Conservation through Leading-Edge Research). She is based at Nova Southeastern University.

After watching this program, check out DCP's other webinars here on our website under the education tab, or on our YouTube channel, cleverly named "Dolphin Communication Project"


Original airdate: 16 November 2021

Contact Us

Write to us via snail-mail at:

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

Email us:

info {at} dcpmail {dot} org


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