The underwater visibility was superb! I had my last data collection session this morning and the dolphins were quiet and not as social as usual, until I exited the water, or so it seemed! Hector, Ritchie and French showed way too much interest in my fins and seemed to be taking notes on my behavior rather than ignoring me. I watched from the surface and almost all the dolphins rolled and splashed at the surface. Several individuals, Anthony and Fiona specifically, were breaching and side-slapping too. Lots of water was flying all over the air.
I spent the late morning and afternoon rinsing and drying gear, logging data sheets and packing for the return trip home tomorrow.
We collected 11.5 hrs of data during this session at RIMS. I was able to get all the individual dolphin sketches drafted with their new scars and rake marks. And, I began the video logs for documenting which dolphins were in view on the tapes and when and for how long. Still, the DRTs, new summer interns, DCP volunteers and I will be kept busy for the next several months documenting the data.
Tomorrow is my travel back to the USA, after one last surface visit to see the dolphins to hold me over until my return in January 2010.
Two sessions of data with a bit of rain and cloudy skies but the dolphins, though rather quiet, were socializing. Dixon and Anthony, the two youngest males, were hanging out together most of the first session. French and Ken, the next two youngest males, were also together most of this session and were often rubbing one another or jawing at each other. Reminded me of when my sisters and I would wrestle when younger.
French also spent a bit of time with Hector and Ritchie. These two young adult males seem to have displaced Paya as the dominant in the group by ganging up on him. Hector seems more aloof and watchful as compared with his behavior last year. Paya is just the opposite and I watched him play with some of the younger male dolphins today. Very neat dynamics.
Just before this session ended, I saw Fiona with a plastic bag in her mouth. She was playing with it and mouthing it. It seemed to have lard or grease in it and next time I saw her the bag was nowhere around and her face seemed to have a thin layer of zinc on it. By the time I was out of the water and back to the pool side to check on her the layer of white color was gone and she was swimming and frolicking like always.
The second session was a bit noisier but mostly because it was raining. The rain sounds a bit like snapping shrimp but near the surface. Margarita, Mrs. Beasley’s youngest female calf, and Dixon, Carmella’s youngest calf, were having a blast playing with each other. They are about a month apart in age and both about 2 years old. Definitely they play off of each other and delight in chasing each other all over the place. It’s hard to keep up with them!
Until tomorrow,
Another silent morning greeted me as I slipped into the water from the blue platform. The underwater visibility was good … but the dolphins were moving slowly and in the shallow area. As I meandered my way over, Maury and Fiona swam swiftly by me. Then, like a squadron, several of the males zoomed into view. They flanked me and I swiveled to keep them in view. This “dance” lasted for a few minutes until the tables were turned and the males – Paya, Ritchie, Hector, French, Ken and Anthony – flocked all around me. They were close and bumping me and just in my space. Nothing aggressive about it, they were just in my space. It’s pretty hard to conduct a behavioral study on an eyeball, or a body side. After a few minutes they moved off and into their own thing. I saw a few of them again during the hour session. Ritchie ad Paya below him who then had Ken below him … a three-tiered rack of dolphins. Paya was even playful with some of the other males. Hector has assumed Paya’s old role of the “aloof watcher”.
I was able to watch the females a bit as well. Margarita was full of vim and vigor this morning and was pulled back to her mom’s side a few times with sharp whistles. Cedena kept Bailey near and Alita was watchful of Anthony. It was a productive session!
This afternoon, after logging the data sheets, I spent some time at Bailey’s key observing some training sessions. Teri has a class of students learning the details of training (Dolphin Training 101) and they were learning some of the basics about training husbandry behaviors and also how to train “match to sample” tasks. It was fun to watch and I learned a bit more about animal behavior by watching how closely the trainers observe and catch the subtleties of the dolphins in their care.
More data are waiting to be collected tomorrow morning. Until then,
The DCP 2009 RIMS eco-tour came to a close yesterday when our volunteer team departed Roatan. With their assistance, we collected six hours of video with stereo audio data of the dolphins here. Neat stuff. A bit thank you to Barclay, Cindy, Gail and Mike for your hard work and help! I spent yesterday afternoon and early evening sleeping – it was my turn with the 24 hr sinus bug that everyone else seemed to have lately.
But, I woke this morning almost at 100% and decided it was a good day to observe dolphins (when is it not a good day?!). I was in the water by 7:30 and spent about 50 minutes recording everyone – Paya, Hector and Ritchie were back in the fray with everyone. They’d been doing scuba dives and other programs last week. All three of them, adult males, had to check me out, which consists of them crowding me. They stop moving and drift into me – almost. Maybe a stand-off, maybe not. I do not move and they eventually depart. Though I am sure they keep an eye on me for the first session or two in which I am recording.
I got in a second time after the morning feed and program. So, I was able to collect roughly two hours of data. Both sessions had the dolphins much more quiet than in previous sessions. Hardly any whistling and only a few click trains. Maybe they had a rough and tumble night since the boys were back? There were a few rub and jaw exchanges, especially between Ritchie and Ronnie. Saw some flipper contact two among other individuals. All really neat stuff.
Tomorrow should bring more data. This afternoon is processing some of the video for logs.

I was in the water by 06:20 this morning and had visibility that improved (because of better sunlight angles) as my session progressed. Almost immediately from when I got in, I had dolphins in view and they were there for most of the 58 min session. The neatest observation was Ronnie and Fiona playing and rubbing each other and then Bill joining them. Bill and Ronnie have been a bit ornery with one another lately and Ronnie was not pleased that Bill was honing in on him and Fiona. Then, to make matters worse for Ronnie, Anthony came over and joined in the action. Ronnie was agitated and just irritable - even jaw clapping and pushing at me. Alita came over and eyed Anthony (her son). A bit later, the noise level increased and it seemed like everyone was in a small area rolling around each other!

A few minutes later, I saw Fiona without Bill or Ronnie in tow and she was whistling with bubble streams coming from her blowhole. I'd noticed Maury doing exactly the same thing a short bit earlier. I watched as they seemed to find each other and how they rubbed pectoral fins together and then Fiona rubbed Maury with her pec fin on her side and then peduncle. It seemed to me that Fiona was seeking "refuge" or comfort from Maury. This morning's session will keep me pondering the dolphins and their actions for quite a while!

In a different sequence, Margarita zipped into view also whistling and bubbling and swam seemingly as fast as she could around me. Mrs. Beasley, her mom, was on the edge of visibility (for me) and began whistling and bubbling as well ... while swimming stately and slowly. After one more circle around me, Marg joined her mom and fitted into infant position (below and slightly behind mom) and they swam out of view.
To say that I swam all over the pen area this morning would be more than accurate!
I look forward to tomorrow morning as well when we have our next hour data collection session. It will be the last session on which our 2009 DCP Eco-tour team assists as they leave later tomorrow. We've had a good time and I hope they have learned much and experienced more.


Our team woke early so I could enter the water before 6:30 AM today. We had good light levels and little wind. The water was not as clear as yesterday but the action was just as good. French and Ken decided early on this morning that I made a grand toy - for about 5 minutes. They poked at the hydrophones with their rostrums (beaks). They poked at me with their rostrums, flippers and bodies. It was very hard not to react ... but I did not react ... I want them to ignore me so I can record what they do with each other. They were persistent, but I think maybe I am a bit more stubborn. They tried a few more times later in the session to get me to play, but mostly hung out with each other.

I also watched as Fiona, Bailey and Maury rubbed and caressed one another. At one point, Mike and Maury (okay and just about every other dolphin there) were whistling and emitting bubbles from their blowholes! It got rather loud underwater. Then, I watched as Mika, Gracie and Alita swam toward the shallow water area and Mika gently lay down on the sea bottom. She stayed there for about a minute while the other females rubbed her body with their rostrums.

At the end of each session, I put my array (greenMVA camera and housing) onto the floating blue platform before I exit the water. I wait for 30 or 60 seconds to say thank you to the dolphins. This is also my way of letting them know that I'll play a bit when the camera is not in the water and that the camera means I am working. Almost all of the dolphins came by before I exited (after the camera was out) today! Even Cedeña brought me a leaf to play with ... passing it back to me when I let it float back to her. Very cool!

We tried another data collection session this afternoon but the underwater visibility was quite bad. When filming dolphins, if a dolphin is directly in front of the camera lens and you have the flukes closest to you and you cannot see the animal's rostrum (mouth), then you know the visibility is bad (icky is the field technical term!). I recorded for about 3 minutes and then stopped.
Until tomorrow,

Today's underwater visibility was spectacular! It was 7 or 8 m plus and clear. And, the dolphins were in a feisty mood - or at least several of them were. I watched Mrs. Beasley and Cedeña exchange pec fin rubs with Mrs. B rolling around Ced's fin. They seemed spunky and moved well for two females very pregnant.

At one point, Bailey seemed to be a bit pushy around Bill and Ronnie after which Bill jaw clapped at Bailey. She swiftly swam away and about 3 minutes later I saw her with her mom, Cedeña. Cedeña was pec fin rubbing Bailey along her back. The pair swam back into the group of juveniles (Bill, Ronnie, French, Ken, Fiona) and it seemed almost as if Cedeña sort of reminded Bailey that she'd have to stand her ground if she was gonna pick fights or be ornery with the others. Very neat to watch!

There was much rubbing and some vocalizations this morning. All in all it was a good morning. And, our DCP eco-tour team had their second encounter and swim with the dolphins. Their first interaction was with Fiona and today they met Alita, Fiona's mom. Anthony swam over often, not wanting to miss out on any fun his mom might be having, or so it seemed.

We also noted that several of the younger dolphins, like Fiona and Anthony, had more rake marks on their bodies from the day before - this means our Wallingford DRT team will have their work cut out for them when we review the video after my return.

Until tomorrow,


This morning was another early data collection session. I was in the water by 6:45 am and my team was in place. The sun was shining and the underwater visibility was about 5 m and clear. Very good conditions. The dolphins greeted me and then went on their way to interact with each other ... just what I was hoping for this morning.

I observed them for about 30 minutes. Bill and Ronnie were together and played a bit with Fiona a bit into my session. I also saw Bailey get a bit pushy with those three and Bill jaw clapped at her. At this point, Bailey left view ... and I learned shortly she went to her mom, Cedena, for a bit of comfort maybe. Cedena pec fin rubbed her and then got in the middle of the melay with the other young dolphins ... almosy as if to say to Bailey that soon she'd have to fend for herself if she was going to start things.

Maury was playing with Margarita, Mrs Beasley's youngest calf, for a bit early in the half hour and then for the last ten minutes she had Bailey and Fiona with her. It seemed like Maury was practicing some skills with these two young females that she might need with her own calf ... sooner rather than later since Maury is pregnant with her first calf.

Aother good morning for data collection.

Until tomorrow


P.S. to the Wallingford DRTs ... I have the 2009 sketches begun and almost set for us to use when we begin reviewing the new data. :-)

 Our data collection session started about 20 minutes late: at 06:54 AM because of rain. My team is dedicated and spent part of their observation session standing on the dock in the rain. Almost as soon as our early morning session was done, the clouds parted. The underwater visibility was good, which allowed me to see the dolphins from a distance and document their interactions. 

Mrs. Beasley at first seemed playful but then a bit irritated with a few of the younger males. I actually saw her chase them and then jaw clap at a couple of them. Very interesting way to start the morning! She also spent time being pec-rubbed by Gracie and Cedena. Neat to watch the exchanges and I was able to keep them in view for a good long period.
Our DCP eco-tour team had their first dolphin encounter and swim this morning also. They got to meet Fiona up close and personal thanks to Cain. And, then they swam with several individuals. Barclay, Cindy, Mike and Gail were treated to a mild symphony of dolphin sounds during their swim. And, after a fresh-water rinse, were back on the dock to assist with a second morning data collection session.
A very good day indeed. The weather is supposed to clear up more tomorrow … and we all hope it does for some good viewing both above and below the water’s surface.
 Mr. French was the main individual poking and prodding me this morning. He even opened his mouth on my left arm. I was not paying attention to him, even then. Soon he lost interest in me as I was too boring. This is good as I prefer to have the dolphins ignore me so that I can record how they interact with each other. French had a few buddies … Anthony, Ken, Fiona, Ronnie, Bill, Marg … who helped crowd me and checked me out. 

Our DCP observer team did great and spent two sessions on the docks this morning. The second session was more sedate in terms of the dolphins’ interest in me. I was able to watch Anthony, Ken and Bill wrestle with one another and Fiona and Ronnie play around a bit as well.
We also began our review of the data tapes and confirmed some of the scars and marks on the individuals from the video. More data will be collected tomorrow, and our team gets their first encounter during which they get to meet the dolphins up close and personal.

 Bill and I were up early and I was in the water by 06:40 AM to begin recording the dolphins’ behavior and interactions. It was a good session and the underwater visibility was better than yesterday. The younger individuals still are more inquisitive than not about me and my camera, but I am also recognizing the individual marks more readily to know exactly who is poking and prodding me! Ronnie, Anthony, Ken and Bill are often culprits.

I spent a bit of time in the early afternoon chatting with the trainers and looking at the dolphins from topside for some ID information. It was good to know I remembered the permanent scars each animal has, and then to learn about the new, fresher rake marks. I’ll have sketches ready and new video for our Wallingford DRT team to view and practice ID analyses.
Our DCP Eco-tour team arrived on the last flight of the day. We have Gail, Barclay, Mike and Cindy here with us this week. Each individual is quite enthusiastic about helping with the research … which is good because we’ll have an early AM session each day to maximize our use of good underwater visibility (mostly in the mornings).
Tomorrow begins assisted data collection.

Till then,

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