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

Sun, Rain, Clear and silty visibility – the day ran the gamut!
16 Jan 2019

Sun, Rain, Clear and silty visibility – the day ran the gamut!

We had another action film shoot to start our day – walking to the water taxi and arriving to the dock at Bailey’s before we set up for data collection. The light and sun and clouds were cooperative for the shoot. I even got a full session of underwater video data collection this morning and we collected baseline spatial use data and the before, during, and after data collection sessions around my observational data collection. Dory was my buddy for a good portion of the observation session – you can see her in the blog photo checking me out this morning!We stayed at Baileys once our early morning video data session was complete to wait for the trainers and be…
Data Collection – Behavior, Communication, Cognition!
15 Jan 2019

Data Collection – Behavior, Communication, Cognition!

Our day began just after first light with a film shoot, which delayed data collection and behavior observations. But, we had fun with the shoot. John had set up our porch to facilitate a roundtable conversation among Heather, Dee and me about our plans for our research throughout the week, especially our study with Teri to examine creativity in the dolphins here at RIMS. John was quite happy with the result and once done, sent us on our way to Bailey’s to continue data collection while he “wrapped the set.” Dee, Heather and I enjoyed a swift water taxi ride to Bailey’s Key at about 7 AM to continue our baseline data collection to better understand how the dolphins use…
Research took Center Stage today!
14 Jan 2019

Research took Center Stage today!

The really great underwater visibility was available again today. And, the dolphins were quite social this morning! Luckily, Champ, Lenca and Ronnie were playing together and Ritchie, Bill and Stan were hanging out together. Only Stan paid extra attention to my fins. I was also able to record some tactile contact between Callie and Tilly and Bailey and Tank were often accompanied by Poli and Elli during their swims. After the first early morning data collection session, Heather, Dee and I brainstormed about additional data collection and we also spent time discussing the film angles with John. He is doing a short video piece about our research here at RIMS and will get a few conversational interview clips from us.…
URI group departure, More researchers arrive
13 Jan 2019

URI group departure, More researchers arrive

Today was a shift day but before shifting (so to speak), we had data collection! The URI team did another surface observation data collection while I observed and videotaped the dolphins underwater. The visibility was again VERY good. And, I watched Ritchie and Stan jaw and play with each other while Dory and Callie each played with seaweed. The URI team had a tasty breakfast (the photo is of the group on the overlook adjacent to the restaurant!) and then packed up their gear for the return trek to New England and Rhode Island. A last few minutes of catching sun rays or paddle boarding rounded out the morning before everyone donned socks, sneakers and long pants for the flights…
Close Encounters of the Dolphin Kind!
12 Jan 2019

Close Encounters of the Dolphin Kind!

Our day began with very high winds and a seemingly strong underwater current. Our surface observations went much smoother this morning – practice makes perfect! The strong current was confirmed by Kathleen once she began underwater observations. The dolphin activity at the surface was very quiet – very little activity. That said, we were surprised that the gates between pools were partially open. We learned the facility did this to avoid a buildup of sargassum seaweed in the different pools. After a hearty breakfast, we did our dolphin encounter with Alita and her trainer Brooke. After our meet-and-greet encounter, we had a 30-minute swim with the dolphins. Poli, Elli, Callie, and Tank all played with us with seaweed, sea grass,…
Data Collection is Hard!
10 Jan 2019

Data Collection is Hard!

We learned it’s important to have multiple people collecting data from different perspectives to compare similarities and differences – especially with the surface observations we collect around Kathleen’s data collection in the morning at Bailey’s Key. Late this afternoon, we just reviewed the reliability between our teams for data collection of surface activity and we did not really match that well (oops!). But, we have learned much about collecting these data.Our morning began as usual with data collection while Kathleen observed the dolphins underwater. After breakfast, we listened to her give an insightful lecture about DCP and dolphin communication and cognition. Then, after her talk, we discussed a scientific paper that required a severe critical eye – we found several…

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…

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Dolphin Communication Project
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