Bahamas 2000

TGIF - especially when in the field for research!

Friday was less windy but still a very full day! We were able to complete three sessions with each dolphin (hurray!) following our revised research protocol. We shifted our focus to assessing what preference the dolphins might have for each symbol (circle vs. star) and also identified a roster of ‘rewards’ for each symbol that the trainers currently consider “a little” or “a lot” for each specific dolphin. To rewind a bit - we we receiving results that were perplexing when coordinating training to assess whether the dolphins would consistently select the star (a lot). We saw a side bias and selection of the circle more than the star. So, either the dolphins were playing us or something else might be going on. So, we decided to take a step back and really investigate when the dolphins have a preference and what that preference might be, even considering the context of the training session. Context would include pool location, other dolphins nearby, other behavior requests and more. We also identified 3 specific “little” rewards and 4-5 specific “a lot” rewards. But, these rewards are also dolphin specific. So, for example, Zig is not a fan of ice cubes but Finn loves them. The pool noodle is Zig’s favorite toy whereas Ludwig lots tactile rubdowns! So, what we researchers initially assumed would be a simple and easy choice for the dolphins turned out to be more complex and complicated. We also shifted the sessions such that we are always presenting the symbols in pairs for a choice to be made and the trainer (Te-Shalla) does not know in advance which symbol will be on left and which on right. We added that she also does not know which reward will be offered given the circle/star selection by a dolphin. We did three sessions each with the dolphins today and will do more next week and in December that the team here at DE will video record. Thus, we researchers will review the video data over the winter to see if there are any confounding factors with the choices we see made by these dolphins. Then, maybe, we can begin to ask some of the more complicated questions!
I’m very pleased with the data collection this week and send our a hearty and huge (aka “a lot”) thank you to the folks at DE for their support and help with our research data collection. Thank you Te-Shalla, Annette, Nicole, Debra, Zandria, Randy, D'Vano, and the rest of the team!
See you in the spring.
Cheers
Kathleen
 
P.S. Thank you Te-Shalla! We are both pleased with a productive research day!

Wind, Sun, Data Collection!

We had a wild ride on the ferry into Blue Lagoon Island on Thursday because of a rolling well and high winds. It was a reminder of just how unpredictable the ocean can be to folks who spend their lives on and around it!
We were able to conduct four sessions with Zig and Ludwig and to see if Finn might participate a bit in these request sessions. That is, we are looking to see if the dolphins will show a preference between two symbols - a circle and a star. The circle equates to only a little of something while the star means “a lot”! So if we use fish, the circle would be 1 capelin and the star 8. Or with secondary reinforcers, the star might mean play with a ball, or a swim noodle, or receive a run-down and tactile from a trainer.  Zig and Ludwig were presenting selections that seem more related to a particular side presentation of the trainer. We are hoping with a few more trials and sessions the side bias will become negligible. 
As our day progressed, we also were able to collect some respiration versus surface activity data from the dolphins. It was a good day and full, even though Heather had to leave mid-day for her return flight. She has classes to teach on Friday! 
I’ll be spending Friday with Te-Shalla and Debra from DE’s Education team, and maybe a couple of trainers with zoological, and of course the dolphins, especially Zig, Ludwig and Finn!
Until tomorrow,
Cheers
Kathleen
 
P.S. the photo is my poor attempt to get a selfie with a dolphin who refused to leap when I was pointing the camera at the water! but, at least you can see DCP’s newest headband from Hoorags! ?

Limited Edition DCP Shirts!

It's baaaaaaack! Your chance to get a DCP shirt! This year, our adult short sleeve (5 colors) and adult long sleeve (white & gray) feature a throwback to DCP's original logo. 2020 is our 20th Anniversary!
Women's tanks (2 styles, 4 colors each) and UPF50 rashguards (4 colors) are also available featuring our current logo.
This special order period ends on Monday (Nov 18th). Shirts and bundles are expected to ship ~26 December. So, while they won't arrive for Christmas & Hanukkah, they will be worth the wait. By pre-ordering your shirt, you help DCP reduce the overhead of placing the shirt order with our printer (Thank you!!).

Click here to order yours now!

An Excellent Data Collection Day!

On Wednesday, we were able to conduct 4 sessions each with Ludwig and Zig for the delay gratification early training (to assess preference between the circle and star) and we also were able to get 3 sessions with Finn. It was a productive day and in this photo, you can see Heather and Te-Shalla setting up for a session with Ludwig. Both Zig and Ludwig are showing a side bias in their selection of the symbols, even though they both switched sides between sessions! Finn was new to this research and at the end of his first session decided to make both Heather and Te-Shalla wet with a high breach! We also collected several 5-min respiration samples of Bella, Laguna, Abaco, Missy, Soca, Aunty V, and Treasure. We spent quite a bit of time in the vey sunny day and are pleasingly tired tonight!
Here’s to another productive day tomorrow!
Cheers
Kathleen & Heather
 
P.S. we made a paradigm shift in our research today from use of primary (fish) reinforcement to use of secondary reinforcers that are items that dolphins learned to like (e.g., balls or noodles and rubdowns) to focus on a positive learning experience. That is, because the dolphins always know they will receive their diet we needed to remove focus on food and look at learning by the dolphins from their perspective. This is why we shifted to use of secondary reinforcers as a positive step toward understanding dolphins choices on a little versus a lot from secondary reinforcers. 

Returning to Dolphin Encounters for Research!

Heather and I arrived to Nassau on Tuesday afternoon for our current few days of data collection on the dolphins at Blue Lagoon Island home of Dolphin Encounters (DE). We met up with Annette, Director of Education and Staff Development, to confirm the logistics of our visit. In this image, we are ready for our first full day of data collection!
Heather and I will connect with Te-Shalla to continue our sessions to examine whether dolphins have a preference between two symbols that have been correlated to “little” (a circle) and “a lot” (a star). We will be working mostly with Zig and Ludwig, two young male bottlenose dolphins. We will also be collecting respiration versus activity level data on any and all of the dolphins we will be observing at DE. 
Our trip is short, but we expect it to be productive!
More tomorrow
Cheers
Kathleen & Heather 

20th Anniversary DCP t-shirt fundraiser

20th Anniversary DCP t-shirts – limited time only!  

DCP is pleased to offer our supporters the chance to get their hands on our limited-edition 20th Anniversary DCP t-shirts featuring the original DCP logo on the front pocket! This special design is available for our short sleeve and long sleeve t-shirts. You can also purchase our tank tops and rash guards featuring the current DCP logo.

All shirts are adult sizing. If you are interested in a youth short sleeve, please contact us at info{at}dcpmail{dot}org. Short and long-sleeve shirts are unisex; men may want to size up, women may want to size down. See below for sizing details. Tanks are women's cut. Once again, multiple colors* are available!

Have extra money burning a hole in that pocket? Add a donation to your order! Or, add a hard-copy adoption kit and get a $5 discount! (Hard copy adoption kits are normally $35. Learn more here.)

This special order period ends on18 November 2019. Shirts and bundles are expected to ship on or before December 26, so your shirt/bundle should (should) arrive not long after Christmas. USPS Priority shipping - to US addresses only - is included in the price of the shirts. We apologize that we are unable to ship shirts to non-US addresses. Live outside the US, but still interested in supporting DCP? Consider adopting a wild dolphin (e-kit or hard copy), making a donation, joining an eco-tour or becoming a member!

Questions? Give us a shout at info{at}dcpmail{dot}org. 

All shirt purchases help fund our research and education efforts. Plus, you'll look good! Remember, these shirts are only available until November 18!

*Fine Print: The exact colors of the shirts may be different than the images appear on your monitor/device. But, they are all awesome. Only ten of our adopt-a-dolphins are available in the t-shirt/adoption bundle. Interested in another dolphin? Simply add a standalone adoption kit to your cart (no discount).

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Adult Short Sleeve t-shirt - 20th Anniversary logo

 

Please Choose
Size
Color
Dolphin (if ordering adoption kit bundle)
Name on Adoption Certificate

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Adult Long Sleeve t-shirt - 20th Anniversary logo

Please Choose
Size
Color
Dolphin (if ordering adoption kit bundle)
Name on Adoption Certificate

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Women's Flowy Racerback Tank - current logo

Please Choose
Size
Color
Dolphin (if ordering adoption kit bundle)
Name on Adoption Certificate

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Women's Racerback Tank - current logo

Please Choose
Size
Color
Dolphin (if ordering adoption kit bundle)
Name on Adoption Certificate

**************************

Adult long-sleeve, UPF 50+ rash guard - current logo

Please Choose
Size
Color
Dolphin (if ordering adoption kit bundle)
Name on Adoption Certificate

**************************

Sizing Info

Sizing info for Short Sleeve t-shirt (in inches)

  XS S M L XL XXL
Length 26 27 28 29 30 31
Width 16 18 20 22 24 26

 

Sizing info for Long Sleeve t-shirt (in inches)

  XS S M L XL XXL
Length N/A 28 29 30 31 32
Width N/A 18 20 22 24 26

 

Sizing info for Women's Standard Racer Tank (in inches)

  XS S M L XL XXL
Length 18 1/4 19 1/4 19 3/4 20 3/8 21 21 5/8
Width 15 1/4 15 7/8 16 1/2 17 3/8 18 1/4 19 1/8

Sizing info for Women's Flowy Racer Tank (in inches)

Sizing info for Adult long-sleeve, UPF 50+ rash guard

Animal Behavior & Psychology Field Course: space available

DCP is teaching several field courses at our Roatan field site. But, there is ONLY course with space available:

 

7 - 14 March 2020, Field Course in Animal Behavior & Psychology, in collaboration with St. Mary's University (StMU)

 

Remaining spaces are now open to non-StMU students. The course is taught by DCP's Dr. Kathleen Dudzinski and StMU Professor, Dr. Heather Hill. Tuition credits with StMU are not included, but are not required. Cost per student is $1550 (USD). This includes lodging, food, instruction and a dolphin swim and encounter. Tuition credits and airfare are not included. Email info[at]dcpmail[dot]org right away if you are interested! Remaining spaces will be filled on a first-come, first-serve basis. To learn more about Dr. Hill, find her among our collaborators under the About menu.

Calling College Students!!!

Dr. Deirdre Yeater is gearing up for her 7th field course with DCP, at our Bimini, The Bahamas field site. Field dates are May 26 - June 1, 2020. All participants must take the course for SHU credit, but with online and field components, non-SHU students are welcome & encouraged to apply. Click here to learn more and apply today! Application deadline is Dec 15th.

What is a Bimini field course? This cross-listed, 200-level Field Course in Cetacean Ecology gives students the chance to learn about dolphin behavior, ecology, cognition and research - but not just through books and lectures. You'll learn by actually observing wild dolphins, from the boat and in the water! This isn't a traditional study abroad course; it is a research course at DCP's active field site. That means it's a lot of work packed into a short time and you'll actually help collect real data that will be used by real scientists. All in an amazing island setting and for school credit. Sign up now!

New Article: Pec fin contact between bottlenose & spotted dolphins!

DCP has asked a lot of questions about how dolphins use their pectoral fins to touch each other (check out Kathleen & the team's long list of publications on the topic!). Our latest peer-reviewed article (that means other scientists had a read and agree the study is sound) looks at pectoral fin contact between Atlantic spotted & bottlenose dolphins. You can download the PDF for free until Nov 28th! https://authors.elsevier.com/c/1ZtNsmjLqKcw A big thanks to our co-authors for getting this done and out into the world! Enjoy!

Our last day of data collection this week!
05 Oct 2019

Our last day of data collection this week!

This morning had our group at the water taxi stand at 6:15 AM for our last data collection session. The underwater visibility held out! (Hurray!) I was able to collect another 40 min of underwater video and the dolphins were vocal and social. Bailey had Tank with her often and Alita had Dory in infant position and they shared some tactile exchanges, too.

Our divers had their last dive this morning, also – they joined Jennifer, Director of Education here at RIMS/AKR, to clean algae off the coral trees that are being grown to repopulate some of the coral reef areas. They were able to get half a dozen "trees" cleaned!

We went over to Bailey’s Key in the afternoon to see the dolphins one last time and to thank the trainers for their time and attention this week. And, before dinner we shared some of our video with the participants and other guests to the resort. It was a good (very good) day!

Jill and Ron B extended their friendly comradery with congratulatory certificates and cards. Jill completed her Advanced Open Water diver certificate this week and shared several dives with Ron and others in our group.

We travel home tomorrow … but this week yielded about 7 hours of video data, several sessions of respiration/surfacing data, and several sessions of spatial use data collection. Thank you to all of our eco-tour participants! It was a very productive week!

Cheers

Kathleen & the 2019 DCP Eco-tour team

Contact Us

Write to us via snail-mail at:

Dolphin Communication Project
P.O. Box 7485
Port St. Lucie, FL, 34985
USA

Email us:

info {at} dcpmail {dot} org

THE DOLPHIN COMMUNICATION PROJECT CHARITABLE SOLICITATION NUMBER CH42894, MEETS ALL REQUIREMENTS SPECIFIED BY THE FLORIDA SOLICITATION OF CONTRIBUTIONS ACT.  A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING TOLL-FREE (800-435-7352) WITHIN THE STATE OF FLORIDA, OR 850-410-3800 WHEN CALLING OUTSIDE THE STATE.  REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL, OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE.

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