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Data, Dolphins, Discussions, and Fiesta!

Data, data and more data! Our paradigm shifted just a bit this morning. We still met at 6:15 AM to go observe the dolphins at Bailey’s Key and collect data with Kathleen but we also began our first session where we collected details about dolphin surface active behaviors as well as the behavior of any dolphins within 2 dolphin body lengths of Kathleen. The data sheets were a bit daunting but practice will make perfect! The day was sunny and bright and warm! Our data collection session was followed by a scrumptious breakfast after which, we reviewed the data we collected and discussed one of the scientific papers we had to read. The paper was about tooth rake marks that…
Day and Nightlife of the Sea
09 Jan 2019

Day and Nightlife of the Sea

We started the day with dolphin observations while Kathleen collected data – another early morning. There was lots of seaweed blown in from the night but the underwater visibility was really good! It was partly cloudy but with little wind. There was much less surface activity than previous days and there was also much more dolphin self-play than play with us. We came back from Bailey’s and had a delightful breakfast. We were supposed to have an hour of free time when Justin burst onto porches and let us know there was a change of plans! We were able to sit in on a training session with the dolphins and their trainers and get to know them a bit more.…
Rain, Sun and Maya Key!
08 Jan 2019

Rain, Sun and Maya Key!

We woke to a torrential downpour and Kathleen made us go collect data. But, it was so very worth it! We waited 15 minutes to see if the rain would subside. It did not. By the time we got to Bailey’s Key, we were all wet. But, just as we began our surface observations, the rain let up and then ceased. And, Kathleen mentioned that underwater visibility was great! The dolphins were very, very playful and there was a lot of jumping, leaping, and other surface behaviors. Even Carmella was leaping! Most of the activity was actually between the three platforms. None of us were on the docks – we were all on the platforms to watch, and occasionally toss…

Finding #104

On Monday, I was able to head out with Captain Al to once again search for DCP ID#104 (aka, Lamda by Wild Dolphin Project). With support from The Bahamas Marine Mammal Stranding Network (lead by Bahamas Marine Mammal Research Organisation and supported by Atlantis Bahamas) and tracking from the team at Sarasota Dolphin Research Program, we were happy to finally be searching in good sea conditions (Click here to read about #104’s story and here for our first search attempts). We had #104’s morning locations and since we were hyper-focused on laying eyes on this guy, we had to cruise right past a group of bottlenose dolphins early in the search. I can’t help but mentally apologize when we ignore…
Sunday – first day of data collection and dolphin learning!
07 Jan 2019

Sunday – first day of data collection and dolphin learning!

The day started early with nice sunny weather and calm conditions to start. We had our introduction to dolphin observations at Bailey’s Key. The dolphins were active! Our observations were a bit confusing at first because we were not really sure what we should record. And, there was an identification barrier – we did not yet know which dolphins were who! After returning from Bailey’s we had a hearty breakfast and then got introduced to DCP and their research and education programs. We also got to see the MVA and then to swim with it. Sporadic rain showers visited us late in the morning, just as we were about to snorkel with the MVA – to see what it’s like…
Changing of the Guard – sort of!
06 Jan 2019

Changing of the Guard – sort of!

Today was the last day on Roatan for the CSU group and the first day on Roatan for the University of Rhode Island (URI) student group. The onsite team helped with a last morning data collection session during which Kathleen saw much of Mrs. Beasley and there was much socializing among all the dolphins this morning. Breakfast was another delight and then the CSU students did their final packing and prep for departure. They left for the airport at 11 AM. And about 20 minutes later, I learned from Dr. R. that the URI group was delayed in Atlanta due to mechanical issues on the plane. (Better safe than sorry!) I’d shifted rooms while waiting and got a few minutes…
It’s too soon to say goodbye!
05 Jan 2019

It’s too soon to say goodbye!

Our last day started with data collection and the dolphins were very feisty. We greeted Kathleen with a welcoming song as she came to the platform to collect data: it was “Let’s Get it Started” by the Black Eyed Peas. A good way to start a session! The dolphins were very active at the surface but the underwater visibility was quite poor – very silty. The dolphins’ aerial activity made up for it and it was cool to see their natural jumping behaviors. After another fantabulous breakfast, we met at the gift shop dock for the boat ride to Bailey’s for our encounter and swim with the dolphins. It was beyond our wildest expectations!! It was interesting to watch a…
Day 6 - Rays, jellies and reefs, Oh My!
04 Jan 2019

Day 6 - Rays, jellies and reefs, Oh My!

We had a bright and early visit to Bailey’s Key with the absolute best underwater visibility in a long time (according to Kathleen). The dolphins seemed quiet at first and then they were playful with jumping above the water. They were playful with each other and mostly left Kathleen alone. We can all recognize Tank, Stan and Dory … because of their small sizes. We had quite a few sightings of Mrs. Beasley too. Our data collection observations were followed by another amazing breakfast … and then we went to the snorkel boat for a morning of underwater adventures. (Kristin and Jackson went to a different boat to try scuba but the rest of us went snorkeling.) We saw some…
Fun in the Sun!!
03 Jan 2019

Fun in the Sun!!

We began our day like the previous with data collection at the crack of dawn! It was a blustery morning with swirly, gusty winds. The dolphins were a bit more social with one another and, Kathleen reported, into their own thing more than paying her any attention. Our morning was spent pondering our individual research questions for our projects, intermixed with a bit of time soaking up the sun and trying our skill on the paddle boards. After a delicious lunch, we each (individually) spent time discussing our research questions and our data collection protocols with Dr. K and Dr. D (Kathleen) to be sure we grasped the concept of using a behavior as a physiological indicator. They assured us…
What a Way to Spend New Year’s Day!
02 Jan 2019

What a Way to Spend New Year’s Day!

Today was a packed day! We started at 6 AM at the water taxi to Bailey’s for data collection. We collected data before, during, and after Kathleen’s data collection session. We had a morning lecture and then an afternoon session meeting the dolphins and the trainers. Our evening was topped off with a night snorkel from a boat. Each student shares their thoughts about the day …Sierra – today, we discovered we could love the dolphins even more than we already did!Maddi – There is no way you can be sad when sitting by the dolphins because of all their whistles and noises. Heather – I got a kiss from Bailey and it was the best day of my life…
Happy New Year’s! It’s already 2019, as we celebrated Roatan Midnight!
01 Jan 2019

Happy New Year’s! It’s already 2019, as we celebrated Roatan Midnight!

It’s 8:29 and we are barely awake as we write this field blog. We learned that previous school groups identified 8 PM as Roatan midnight. So, we have done the same and celebrated New Year’s already! Before we slumber and prepare for tomorrow, we will recap our day.We started our day with a beautiful sunrise! We began our observations at Bailey’s Key at 6:16 AM and saw the orange sunrise that highlighted Dr. K, before Kathleen got into the water for data collection (see photo below). Champ and Lenca were feisty and we also saw a bit more of Ronnie and French near to our observation areas. After breakfast, we returned to the RIMS classroom to watch the video collected…
It’s New Year’s Eve Eve on Roatan!
31 Dec 2018

It’s New Year’s Eve Eve on Roatan!

Today, the Rams in Roatan did their first day of data collection, lectures, and snorkeling then finished off the long day with a presentation on fish identification.One of the Rams told us that "waking up at 5am was totally worth it when we got to watch the dolphins for the first time and see the sunrise over the jungle."We were then able to take the field into the classroom as only one or two people started to doze off as the last bit of jetlag began to leave their brains. I bet you everyone would get at least a C or higher on a dolphin anatomy quiz. Now on the names of some of our new friends, we may have…
New Friends
30 Dec 2018

New Friends

  Here is each student’s thought on today – travel and arrival to Roatan!Kyler – it was worth the journal because of the ocean I saw when we arrived to AKR. Marcela – the start of a new journey with new people is always inspiring because we don’t know what’s coming but we know it’ll be exciting.Marissa – upon arrival at Roatan – all exhaustion left me because of the excitement of being in a new place for the first time.Maddi – I think the culture shock of how amazing the staff and people are here was a very nice surprise. They really want us to enjoy our time. Kaelyn – the is the resort that nature built with friendly…
Dixie and Baloo
28 Dec 2018

Wrapping up 2018 and welcoming 2019 on Roatan!

My bags are packed and I’m ready to go. Soon I’ll be leaving on a jet plane … Sound familiar? It’s a song … (though for the life of me I cannot at this moment remember the title or artist) but it also nicely describes my routine for preparing for three weeks in the field! I depart tomorrow early (!) for two back-to-back field courses followed by a week of research with two colleagues (Heather and Dee). John will join us on the third week to document our research and studies. So, you’ll get updates here for the next three weeks or so!Our first group, from Colorado State University (CSU) arrives tomorrow, same as me. We should all get to…

December Dolphins

On Wednesday, I joined – in a somewhat unofficial capacity – a dolphin trip with Neal Watson’s Bimini SCUBA Center. As this is the off-season for dolphin trips, opportunities limited to search for DCP ID#104 (WDP’s “Lamda”), the Atlantic spotted dolphin who stranded in August, was rehab’d and then released in late October. I filled the guests in on #104 and my hope of the day… Soon, there were dolphins! No #104, but it was a large group of bottlenose dolphins. They seemed to be crater feeding, so I grabbed the surface camera while the boat crew positioned the boat for the guests to enter the water. The dolphin group then split up, with some dolphins heading north. Right around…

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