Check out the latest news from DCP, including field reports filed by our researchers busy doing science at one of our many research sites.

Rays, Reefs and Riddles

Monday night ended with Spoons and riddles, but that fun didn’t compare to the amazing adventure of the day. We began the day with a simple competition, but with this group, well, let’s just say it got a little heated (but still fun!). We searched for answers at the Bimini Museum and visited the Straw Market. We had an early lunch because the boat was departing at 1300 – for sharks! Nicole hooked us up with a Bluetooth speaker, which set the mood for the day as we cruised through (slightly) choppy seas to our first destination: Honeymoon Harbor at Gun Cay. It was a stunning view and we popped on “Baby Shark” only to learn that this was a…

Balloons & Spoons

In the morning, we wrote our daily blog then had a morning break. The Three-Oh-Five Stooges headed to the acclaimed CJ’s….to wait 90 minutes for cheeseburgers. They observed tourist “Brad” being not so patient with the delay, but The Stooges stayed strong and were rewarded with their delicious burgers. They promised the CJ’s cook-extraordinaire that they had her back. Back in Room 305, our class topic was photo-ID. It was interesting how you can pick out a certain characteristics and find that dolphin again; it isn’t always something huge that sticks out, sometimes it’s a smaller spot pattern. We went over the age classes and it was cool to learn how to tell them apart (and then apply that knowledge…

The Flipper

On Saturday, we had a chance to visit Mr. Ashley Saunders, local historian and artist. We toured his “Dolphin House” and it was amazing to see how dedicated he is to the project. He’s dedicated the most important years of his life to this creative masterpiece, utilizing “trash” and of course the almighty conch. He melts the conch shells down and used it as his cement. He really is the Bahamian Picasso. We were able to go inside the house, viewing all the mosaics and seeing the notes in so many languages. The lookout, from the third floor, was just beautiful – you could see the whole island. We went into the museum room and there were quotes and business…

Are Ya Spotted or Not?

More student blog posts headed your way! On Thursday, Nicole returned to Bimini and on Friday we welcomed our third 2019 university field course. This time: DCP Research Collaborator Dr. Deirdre Yeater and students from Sacred Heart University. They have 6 packed nights ahead of them. We hope you enjoy their stories! -Kel & Nicole We got up waaaaay too early. At JFK, our plane got stuck on the tarmac for over an hour, due to a malfunction. But our pilot took off with courage and grace, getting us safely to Fort Lauderdale in a jiffy. We waited for a shuttle – it was a cool shuttle bus. Our driver was perhaps a bit fed up with other passengers, so…

Diving with Dolphins: Catch ya on the flippity flip side

On Thursday, our students from Eastern Kentucky University didn’t have a boat trip, but they still had a busy day! Writing Wednesday’s blog and then heading to the one-room Bimini museum led the students to some free time, including a chance to take themselves out for local food. We came together again in the early afternoon, covering our last class topic: eco-tourism. Students discussed scientific studies on the impact of dolphin-watching tours and then put it in the context of their experience with DCP here in Bimini. Then, we sampled conch fritters (thank you, Lady Barbara!) went over the answers to their info-scavenger hunt at the museum. Let’s just say, this group was one of the liveliest yet! The winning…

Diving with Dolphins: Last Minute Encounter

Wednesday morning, we got out of the classroom and headed across the harbor to a little mangrove island. It was great to see this endangered habitat first hand, and not just discuss them theoretically. Dr. M squealed when a stingray surprised her and Holly spotted a stingray snoozing in the sand. There was really cool bright orange thing….we think it was a sponge growing on the mangrove. Behind the island, we saw the conch-mounds, conch graveyards of sorts where the local fishers discard their conch shells. Caitie and Gillian spied a baby conch on the way back to the boat and Dr. M found a beautiful, intact bivalve shell and LiEllen thought she found a vacated shell, but soon realized…

Diving with Dolphins: The Boys Are Back In Town!

Tuesday morning Deric caved and got four braids in his beard at the straw market! The ladies weren’t so sure about this request….Our class topic was contact behavior, associations and alloparenting. Our boat trip began with a snorkel stop at “3 Sisters.” We were happy to see this extension of “Atlantis” and there were fish everywhere at this beautiful spot. The archway was cool and we were able to see the fishes’ schooling behavior. Back on the boat, but before resuming our search, we got to have a little fun by jumping off the bow of the boat. There was definitely a dive contest going on. When we found the dolphins, it was a group of seven Atlantic spotted dolphins.…

Diving with Dolphins: Shark Edition

Monday morning, we explored Alice Town during break and got caught in the rain! When we got back, it looked as if we’d all showered in our clothes. Our class session was on interspecies interactions and we discussed the possibility of “spottlenose” dolphins. We chatted about the advantages to mixed species groups and why they might form. We grabbed lunch and then…. Our afternoon boat trip wasn’t aimed at finding dolphins (though we are always on the lookout, of course!). It was a really calm, sunny day – not quite Dr. M’s “jiggly jello” sea state, but close. We began with our surprise stop at Honeymoon Harbor (on Gun Cay). Here, we got to meet southern stingrays. We were a…

Diving with Dolphins: For Mature Audiences Only

Saturday began with our field routine: breakfast, blog, break & class. During break, some of us went to the beach (photoshoot!), while others explored the laundromat (6 bucks a wash!). With Dr. M we discussed play behavior. Tears may have been shed….over cute elephants. We talked about different types of play and why animals play. Lunch was chicken noodle soup (yum!). Our boat trip once again departed at 14:30. It was another slow day of searching, with lots of white caps. Suddenly…was that smooth jazz playing in the distance? Nope. But it was two loggerhead turtles mating at the surface. Was this sighting in honor of Endangered Species Day? Can’t be sure, but we did enjoy the sighting. Captain Al…

Diving with Dolphins: Denver the Dolphin Man

During Sunday’s morning break, some of us explored down the beach and saw the Galant Lady. We continued on to the southern tip of the island, to the old sea wall. It was a great spot for photo shoots – the models we saw leaving must have agreed. Back in class we discussed group living and costs and benefits of a social life. There are different types of group living, including fission-fusion society versus matriarchies, for example. Then, Nicole shared the short-version of her doctoral work. Hearing about her investigations into some of the things we have seen here, first hand, was great. We really liked the visualizations of the data/the dolphins’ interactions, including the sociogram. John compared it to…

Diving with Dolphins: Peas n Rice….Mmmmmmmm…..

Friday morning’s class covered research methodology, including the science behind DCP’s mobile video acoustic array (MVA). We also talked about ethograms and their use in studying animal behavior. We used our morning break to search for non-US KitKats, but alas, we had to settle for the U.S. versions. Our search will continue… We had Caesar salad for lunch (!) and then departed just before 14:30 in search of dolphins. The day started out slower than our past trips, but the sun was shining! We kept our searching spirits up with karaoke on the bow and woke ourselves up with a swim break halfway through the trip. As soon as we got back on the boat, we saw dolphins! It was…

Diving with Dolphins: Bottlenose Edition

*Ka-chow* The Colonels wake up in a fright! Don’t worry, no murder mystery here, but there was thunder and lots of rain. We were worried that we would have to use up our 2nd weather day, but by about 10:30 the sky seemed pretty much done. So, we had a little excursion back to South Bimini – with the bugs – to the SharkLab! We saw baby lemon sharks with tour guides Sarah and Wajeh. We learned some fun facts, like nurse and lemon sharks are so flexible that they can bite their own tails. Sarah told us that they go into “the donut shape” when they are stressed and they will not release themselves until calm. Lemons, like nurses,…

Diving with Dolphins: Squad Up!

Wednesday morning’s breakfast crew slapped (once again, if they do say so themselves). Our class topic was photo-ID. We learned why it’s important, in Bimini, to rely first on dorsal fins and later on other parts of the body when keeping track of individual bottlenose dolphins. We discussed the age classes of the dolphins, particularly the Atlantic spotteds. We went into more details on the spotted dolphin’s spot patterns and how those are used to identify individuals. We spoke a lot of #087 (Tilly) and #064 (Prince William) and their run-ins with sharks. We talked some more about #104 and how his new marking will be used to recognize him. We used our class break to visit the Straw Market…

Diving with Dolphins: Weather Malfunction

We started Tuesday with breakfast (Bimini breeeeaaaaddd….yuuuuuuuuummmmmmm) and then we headed to The Dolphin House. We met Ashley Saunders, the builder/artist who created The Dolphin House. He is a local historian, poet, musician – the Swiss Army knife of Bimini. It was really cool to see how he takes forgotten scraps and turns it into the house. Sam was amazed at how he can look at what others would consider trash and turn into a building. He told us about his labor love, and his positive energy was contagious. There were over 40 different mosaic dolphins throughout the property and his collection of license plates and coins from around the world showed his love of the world and the world’s…

Diving with Dolphins: Colonels (Attempt to) Get Their Sea Legs

Monday began with learning more about DCP and the dolphins we are going to see here in Bimini. We learned where the dolphins’ ranges are, how to distinguish between the two species and about spotted dolphins’ spot patterns. We didn’t know that each individual has a unique pattern – fingerprints! We learned how to tell the difference between males and females: males look like an exclamation point where as females have a long slit and mammary slits. We also had our boat safety and dolphin swim etiquette orientation. After lunch we headed to the boat and met our crew: Captain Al and Denver. Right away, the waves were playing tricks on us and we thought we saw dolphins everywhere. We…

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Dolphin Communication Project
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