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!


Kathleen & the DCP RIMS 2013 team

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!



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 …


Kathleen & the DCP RIMS 2013 team

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 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!


Kathleen & the DCP RIMS 2013 team

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!).



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