Bahamas 2000
Shifting Currents, Invigorating Winds, and Dolphins!
18 Jan 2019

Shifting Currents, Invigorating Winds, and Dolphins!

Another early day was greeted by overcast skies and some choppy sea conditions. The underwater visibility was still good and I was able to collect another 30 minutes of underwater video of the dolphins at Bailey’s Key. They were much more subdued as compared with yesterday! And, because there was still a bit of a current, though crossing differently from yesterday, the dolphins seemed to stay close to the shore area. The males were chasing one another while there was much infant swimming by the females and their calves and the younger females, too.
We stayed at Bailey’s after my underwater data collection to welcome Teri and continue with our innovative data collection. And, Heather and Dee worked diligently to collect baseline spatial data as well as area use by dolphins before, during and after my observations and that of the encounter and swim programs. John did some drone shots and got a really good one of Bailey’s Key (see cover photo for this blog report).
Our data collection sessions have been very, very productive. We’ll be kept busy for quite a while analyzing these data.
Tomorrow is our last day of data collection! We look forward to seeing the “small weather system” push through tonight so we have a bright sunny and clear day with much to document!
Cheers,
Kathleen, Heather, Dee, & John

P.S. DCP's dolphin science podcast - The Dolphin Pod - has just returned! And we need your help to produce new episodes. Visit https://www.gofundme.com/the-dolphin-pod to make a tax-deductible donation! All proceeds will fund the production of new episodes. And of course, check out all the existing episodes here: https://www.dolphincommunicationproject.org/index.php/the-latest-buzz/the-dolphin-pod

Shifting Currents, Invigorating Winds, and Dolphins!
18 Jan 2019

Shifting Currents, Invigorating Winds, and Dolphins!

Another early day was greeted by overcast skies and some choppy sea conditions. The underwater visibility was still good and I was able to collect another 30 minutes of underwater video of the dolphins at Bailey’s Key. They were much more subdued as compared with yesterday! And, because there was still a bit of a current, though crossing differently from yesterday, the dolphins seemed to stay close to the shore area. The males were chasing one another while there was much infant swimming by the females and their calves and the younger females, too.
We stayed at Bailey’s after my underwater data collection to welcome Teri and continue with our innovative data collection. And, Heather and Dee worked diligently to collect baseline spatial data as well as area use by dolphins before, during and after my observations and that of the encounter and swim programs. John did some drone shots and got a really good one of Bailey’s Key (see cover photo for this blog report).
Our data collection sessions have been very, very productive. We’ll be kept busy for quite a while analyzing these data.
Tomorrow is our last day of data collection! We look forward to seeing the “small weather system” push through tonight so we have a bright sunny and clear day with much to document!
Cheers,
Kathleen, Heather, Dee, & John

P.S. DCP's dolphin science podcast - The Dolphin Pod - has just returned! And we need your help to produce new episodes. Visit https://www.gofundme.com/the-dolphin-pod to make a tax-deductible donation! All proceeds will fund the production of new episodes. And of course, check out all the existing episodes here: https://www.dolphincommunicationproject.org/index.php/the-latest-buzz/the-dolphin-pod

A Very Busy Day!
17 Jan 2019

A Very Busy Day!

We started the day early with an aerial view of Heather, Dee and I traveling by water taxi to Bailey’s Key for data collection. I had a ~26 min morning data collection session in which Meredith and Sarah, two trainers from RIMS, joined our observations. They got in the water also and it was funny to watch the dolphins react to their presence! A very social group of dolphins became even more social and very vocal! There was much circle swimming around Meredith and Sarah and much social rubbing, also! To use anthropomorphic terms – it seemed like the dolphins got a huge treat with additional early morning visitors!
The rest of our morning was spent collecting data for the dolphin innovative study and our spatial use data collection sessions. For the former, Heather collects data from the surface, Dee is next to Teri recording details of the cues and I am the in-water person getting the underwater and surface behavior data. The current picked up yesterday morning and I definitely earned my lunch!
It was a good day if also punctuated by several rain squalls. Fiesta night was not on Anthony’s Key but in the dining room. We were all glad to have a dry spot to enjoy dinner!
Tomorrow is our second to last day of data collection – we will have lots and lots of data to analyze!
Cheers,
Kathleen, Heather, Dee, & John

P.S. A hearty Thank You to Wanderer Bracelets for their sponsorship of DCP! Check out the dolphin bracelets on Kathleen’s wrist … Wanderer Bracelets donates 10% of each dolphin bracelet sold to DCP. Check out their web page (https://www.wandererbracelets.com) to pick up your dolphin bracelet … and maybe 1 or 2 others! There are some really cool designs! Check out their web site to learn the story of these bracelets – very eco-friendly!

KD Wanderer Bracelet CCd sm

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 ready for Teri on arrival for continued creativity data collection. Across three sessions today (two morning and one afternoon), we were able to complete a second session for most of the dolphins in our study. Of course, the rain meant that not only did I get wet (doing the in-water observations) but so did Dee, Heather and Teri, on the dock! The shower was short lived, but followed by some blurry and silty underwater visibility due to the rain. Thankfully, the visibility cleared relatively swiftly. Our afternoon was more baseline spatial observations as well as data collection before, during, and after a swim program. We regrouped late this afternoon/early evening to review data, spot check footage, enter data into the spreadsheet, and discuss tomorrow’s game plan – more of the same! We all sleep really well at night!
Until tomorrow,
Cheers,
Kathleen, Heather, Dee, & John

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 the various locations within their enclosure. After about 10 minutes of baseline data collection, I was ready to get in and collect more data with the MVA2. The dolphins were VERY social – both above and below the water surface. There was much vocal behavior and lots of tactile rubbing contact. And, there were numerous leaps near and far from Kathleen in the water.
A morning meeting with Teri followed a hurried breakfast. Happy Birthday to Teri and Maury!! We regrouped on Bailey’s Key to resume data collection on dolphin creativity and were able to work with four male and three female dolphins. We had a VERY productive day split into two sessions (morning, afternoon). A few rain squalls punctuated our day but the sun kept us warm and energized! While Kathleen and John returned to charge batteries and transfer footage between external hard drives, Heather and Dee remained on Bailey’s to collect data during a training session and more baseline date on spatial use of the habitat by dolphins in the afternoon.
The evening wrapped up (after a great dinner!) with us reviewing footage from the day, chatting about our game plan for tomorrow, and generally trying to keep our eyes open to (maybe) check a few emails before returning to our rooms and turning in for the evening! Tomorrow begins at about sunrise with more filming followed by more data!
Cheers
Kathleen, John, Heather & Dee

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.
Thank you to both the CSU and URI groups for helping collect surface data observations during their weeks with us this month. Dee, Heather and I collected some baseline surface activity data and also observed an encounter and swim session to review our tentative data sheets and confirm we are collecting the data we plan to use for our questions about spatial use of the enclosure by dolphins. Then, just after noon, I did a second underwater session so they could collect the same type of data the students gathered during their weeks here. We made a few modifications to the data sheets based on student comments and out experience collecting the data. Of course, this meant our lunch was quite late today … Thankfully, Marcos made sure we had a tasty feast.
We spend the afternoon reviewing collected data, chatting with John about tomorrow’s game plan and confirming our meeting time with Teri for our creativity study and data collection. All in all, a very good day punctuated this morning by a full double, vibrant rainbow that extended from Bailey’s Key to Anthony’s Key!
Tomorrow will start with a brief interview BEFORE data collection in the morning!
Until then,
Cheers
Kathleen, Dee, John & Heather

P.S. Join DCP at our Bimini, The Bahamas, field site - where we have studied dolphins for over 18 years! With 5 nights' accommodation at a small, locally-owned and operated hotel, participants have access to DCP talks/presentations, 3 meals/day, 5 boat trips in search of wild dolphins and more! During dolphin trips, we aim to not only see dolphins from the boat - but also to swim with them!
Plus: by participating in a DCP-led program, you help ensure we get more opportunities to observe and collect data on these amazing animals! Email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you'd like to register! $350 deposit required to save your space.

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 home.
I waited about 2 hrs after URI left for Heather, Dee and John to arrive. John will be filming the research we do to create a short documentary about our research this week. Heather, Dee and I will be working on 3-4 research projects over the week. I’ll detail the different topics as the week progresses.
All in all, it was a great transition day with sunny skies, warm temperatures and calm seas! Let’s hope that weather holds this week!
Cheers
Kathleen, Heather, Dee & John – DCP RIMS 2019 research team

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, and various swift swim patterns. There was still a bit of current in the pool that we all experienced and the dolphins, overall, were relatively lowkey. They were not overly playful but did swim around to check us all out.
Just before lunch, Dr. R and Kathleen subjected us to a pop dolphin-ID quiz! Only 4 of us were able to correctly identify at least 10 the 19 dolphins in the photographs presented to us. Even though we spent about 3.5 hrs this week practicing and reviewing dolphin IDs, we were reminded by this quiz that it is not easy to recognize dolphins in the short-term. (We are glad they can recognize each other!)
After lunch, we spent a bit of time reviewing video with BORIS … a software program that facilitates behavioral analyses from video and streamlines the data collection process. After this session, we were given a few hours of free-time! (woohoo!) (Side note: Kathleen saw half the class sitting on lounge chairs on the small beach on Anthony’s Key with their laptops … not the typical beach sunbathing photo one would expect!)
We had a scrumptious last supper and are just now finishing our final blog for the week. Of course, Kathleen informed us we will have one more data collection session at 6:15 tomorrow morning!
Until then,
Cheers
The URI Rams!

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 methodological issues with the research design and the statistics used to examine the data. We practiced using critical thinking! After the paper discussion, we reviewed the morning video data, and we are getting MUCH better at recognizing the individual dolphins. We routinely recognize Stan, Mrs. Beasley, Carmella, Champ, Tank, Alita (perfect dolphin!), and we are even getting a bit more practice with recognizing Ritchie and Bill as they have been swimming around more than usual. Dory’s vocalizations are usually loud and she brings us seaweed often to tempt us to play!
After another delicious lunch that was unique and delightful, we went snorkeling to Lawson Rock. The current was stronger than expected and we got rained on by a squall that blew through the area! The water was warmer than the rain and so it was tempting to stay in the water! We saw trunk fish and other sea creatures … even though we seemed to collide with each other more often than not! We did our part for conservation by collecting any plastic bits we saw and removing them from the sea.
It was wonderful to get off the snorkel boat and be able to take hot showers and warm up and dry out!
We spent a bit of time working on our portfolios before meeting with Dr. R and Kathleen. We reviewed our data collection (see above) and then listened to the first new The Dolphin Pod podcast from DCP! (For you listening pleasure … check it out here: https://audioboom.com/posts/7139516-timesharing-dolphins)
Tomorrow, after data collection, we have our dolphin encounter and swim at 9 AM!
It is hard to believe tomorrow is our last full day here on Roatan!
Cheers
The URI Rams!

Timesharing dolphins | Episode 15

We’ve got a brand-new format for The Dolphin Pod that is equal parts science and magic. Yes, MAGIC! We’ll be discussing a recently published scientific article about bottlenose dolphins in the Gulf of Trieste that engage in what news outlets have dubbed timesharing – with two dolphin groups using the same habitat at different times of day. Laura and Justin use the magic of podcasting to transport themselves onto a small boat off the coast of Slovenia where they see “first hand” what these timesharing dolphins get up to. What do you think of the new format? Get in touch with us via social media at https://twitter.com/dolphincommu or https://facebook.com/dolphincommunicationproject/ and let us know! Kje si!

Show notes:

This episode features research from Morigenos – the Slovenian Marine Mammal Society. Learn more about their work at: https://www.morigenos.org/
 
The primary article being discussed is: 
Genov T., Centrih T., Kotnjek P., Hace A. 2019. Behavioural and temporal partitioning of dolphin social groups in the northern Adriatic Sea. Marine Biology 166: 11. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00227-018-3450-8
 
We also discuss the following article: 
Genov T., Jepson P.D., Barber J.L., Hace A., Gaspari S., Centrih T., Lesjak J., Kotnjek P. 2019. Linking organochlorine contaminants with demographic parameters in free-ranging common bottlenose dolphins from the northern Adriatic Sea. Science of the Total Environment 657: 200-212. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.12.025
 
More info on the biopsy darts used to take samples from wild dolphins:
http://www.kaosa.org.br/publications/23_Fruet_et_al_2016_Biopsy_darting.pdf
 
These darts are quite small and cause minimal discomfort to the dolphin: "Tips measured 25mm in length and 8mm in diameter and had a cylindrical punch fitted with three internal barbs (to hold a sample in place) attached to modified darts. A cylindrical foam stopper caused the bolt to rebound after impact and limited the penetration depth to 20mm."

For more information on the other bottlenose dolphin groups mentioned, visit website for the following research groups: 
 
Slovenian language (Slovene) tips were taken from here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Phrlqxje9eE
 
And this is how you write the Slovene phrase “kje si!” which means something like “what’s up”. Here’s an actual Slovenian Eurovision singer (Anika Horvat) singing the words kje si. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9mF9C1zFNw8 Our pronunciation is not too far off, eh?
 
This episode features Slovenian folk music from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E54IhTh5OhY
 
More info about the beautiful Slovenian village of Piran here: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/slovenia/karst-and-coast/piran
 
The image used for this episode was taken from a post found on the Twitter account of Tilen Genov, lead author of the scientific article being discussed: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Dusxl8OWkAAsG3c.jpg
 
This episode was made possible through generous donations from supporters of the Dolphin Communication Project. We rely on public support to produce The Dolphin Pod. Please consider contributing to our GoFundMe campaign to help make future episodes possible: https://gofundme.com/the-dolphin-pod

What did you think of this episode? Get in touch with us via social media at https://twitter.com/dolphincommu or https://facebook.com/dolphincommunicationproject/ and let us know! 

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