Time to get reading!
Whether you need a mid-day or late-night break, The Dolphin Gazette is a great to get your DCP updates. Be inspired by Kathleen's eco-tour summary, excited by Kel's Bimini update (including the release of a rehab'd Bimini spotted dolphin!), proud of DCP becoming a Conservation Partner with REEF....and grab your t-shirt before they're gone or sign-up for a Bimini Eco-Tour or RIMS program today!
Click here to download your copy now. Happy Reading!
Yay for October dolphin trips! I don't get a chance to in search of dolphins very often post-September, but on Friday and Saturday, I was able to join a visiting film crew. Though I knew I would be unlikely to collect any video, acoustic or photographic data, I was still eager to search for the dolphins and share info with the visitors. On Friday, the seas made us work for every step on the boat and we only saw a few passing bottlenose dolphins. Still, the film crew was able to get some productive shots and we said goodnight eager for what tomorrow would bring…
Saturday began with a cruise along the shoreline and a break for an interview. Then, the serious searching began. We had to wait a bit, but around 1540, the large splashes in the distance could not be denied. Dolphins were jumping. And it was a lot of them. We got closer and saw the Atlantic spotted dolphins were scattered and feeding. We assessed, careful not to interrupt their meal, and then entered the water. Though I hate missing out on data, it was, dare I say….really fun to be in the water without a camera! It’s so rare for me. There was a lot going on with the crew and their goals, but I was able to see Tina (#14) and her busy-body older calf, Juliette (#12), another older adult and several juveniles. During the second water entry, which included just Tina’s calf and 2 juveniles, there was a large school of ocean tally (aka ocean triggerfish) mid-water column. The dolphins occasionally gave them a bit of attention, but mostly they just floated around. What an unusual site!
We slowly cruised home, and nearer to the island we saw more leaping dolphins. It appeared to be a mix of bottlenose and spotted dolphins; one adult spotted came for a quick bow ride before zipping off in pursuit of a fast fish. We continued on our way, finishing the day with an absolutely beautiful sunset (again).
Thanks so much to this visiting crew and to Bimini Adventures for once again supporting DCP and our efforts.
Until next time,
PS: Intrigued by our research off Bimini and the dolphins themselves? Come check it out for yourself! We are now recruiting for our 30 June – 5 July 2019 eco-tour. Spend 5 nights with us on little Bimini, learning about dolphins, searching for dolphins, swimming with dolphins…and, supporting our research! Click here to learn more and email us now at info[at]dcpmail[dot]org to reserve your spot!
The off-season means a lot of things: data, writing, resting. But, it also means recruiting for our Bimini field courses! We’re excited to have three courses lined up for Spring/Summer 2019. University of New Brunswick Saint John is already full. Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) and Sacred Heart University (SHU) are now accepting applications. Contact us at info [at] dcpmail [dot] org for more info, or go ahead and contact the Professors/Schools directly!
EKU: Field dates 12 – 24 May 2019. In-person class sessions during Spring 2019 semester followed by 12 nights in Bimini, The Bahamas. Click here for more info.
SHU: Field dates 31 May – 6 June 2019. On-line component prior to field session means this is a great course for non-SHU students (though all students must sign up through SHU). Click here for more info.
The weather was still overcast with periodic drizzly rain but no lightning meant we could collect data. I was able to get about 28 min of video this morning, even though the underwater visibility was a bit less than earlier in the week. The dolphins were quite playful with each other. Champ and Dory and then Champ and Tilly each decided to play with my fins and circle swim me a few times during my observations. Carmella and Bailey both whistled with bubble streams. We tried for a second session but the visibility was less later in the day and there were encounter and swim groups that were interacting with the dolphins.
Still, the week was productive with almost 4 hours of video data collected with the MVA2 and the GoPro3. Our eco-tour volunteers (Chris, Dave, Bill, Ron, Jill, Don, Madison, Nat, and John) all contributed to data collection (thank you!) and had fun either snorkeling or diving. Numerous other sea critters were observed and photographed in addition to dolphins: hawksbill and green sea turtles, nurse shark, grouper, snappers, tropical fishes, corals, sponges, and more. The afternoon also included a statistics discussion about Nat’s independent study project. All neat topics and all fun chats!
Kathleen & the DCP Eco-tour Gang!
Our day (Thursday) began with a bang thanks to Mother Nature. Lightning kept us off the dock in the morning and me out of the water. So, no data collection occurred today. We did, however, assist Jennifer with a Coral Tree Cleaning (aka Coral Christmas Trees – in October!). RIMS and AKR have a forest of PVC trees adorned with coral clippings. The coral is grown in situ and when it has grown enough, is transplanted to the reef. In this way, there is an effort to help the reef. The PVC tubes that are the backbone of the trees need to be cleaned regularly to keep algae from growing on them and harming the fledgling coral growth. You can see me and a buddy doing a safety hang after cleaning a few trees in this photo. Toothbrushes and scrub brushes were our friends for an hour underwater today! I also include before cleaning and after cleaning views of one of the trees. The afternoon offered a chance to review video clips from earlier in the week. Even though rain was the predominant weather pattern of the day, we got much accomplished!
Let’s hope tomorrow is better and offers a chance to collect more data!
Kathleen & the DCP Eco-tour Gang!
Thank you to Madison for sharing the coral christmas trees and our cleaning efforts!
Before cleaning and after cleaning
It was a wet day but a bright day in our activities! Two data collection sessions brought another 45+ minutes of video to our data collection for the week. The dolphins were vocal and social. For a school research project, Nat is looking at infant position among the dolphins and we saw a good bit of that posture and swim position today. The morning session also had lots of floating seaweed and flotsam. Great play toys! The dolphins tried to entice everyone near the pool to play with some amount of seaweed. At one point, Poli was trying to get me to play keep away with a leaf. When I refused to play, she left only to return with a bigger leaf! (My plan of being boring to the dolphins does not always work!) The rest of our group got in 2-3 dives today and some snorkeling on the reef. Sea turtles, many fishes and two free swimming moray eels were observed and photographed! Tonight was Fiesta night … which, in addition to meeting Garifuna dancers, was also mac and cheese night! Conversation was light and much laughter was shared.
We are all game for another early morning start tomorrow … to data collection on the dolphins, that is!
Kathleen & the DCP Eco-tour Gang!
October 2nd started like other days when in the field at AKR – with observations of the dolphins around Bailey’s Key! The sun was shining and the underwater visibility was excellent (~5-6 m with minimal suspended silt). The dolphins were into their own thing – very social and playful with each other. Lenca, Champ and Stan or Lenca, Champ and Ronnie were playing with each other. Dory was curious about my fins but also played with Tank and Poli. I even was able to conduct a follow of Carmella and then also of Mrs. Beasley with Gracie. It was a great early morning session. Several (Ron, Bill, Madison, Nat, Don) of our group went on the first morning dive with Madison and Nat meeting Chris, Dave, Jill and me at Bailey’s at about 9:45 for a second data collection session. The activity was a bit lower but there was still some playful chases and seaweed play games. Jill, Madison and Nat (to the far right in the photo) participated in a dolphin encounter and met Alita after which Nat and Madison spent 30 min snorkeling with the dolphins, with a few other humans too! Their smiles on water exit were almost as large as the dolphins … almost!
Everyone split off a bit to do their own thing in the afternoon, which was punctuated by a heavy downpour and an afternoon of drizzly precipitation. I was able to log the notes from the second data collection session and review and transfer the footage collected. I number each session’s video data sequentially for the full year. This October is my third field session at AKR/RIMS and I filmed the 20th video clip of data this year (so far)! Indeed, this winter will be a busy time for processing video data!
Tomorrow promises more data collection, more snorkeling and more diving.
Kathleen and the DCP Eco-tour gang!
My early morning session was truncated because French was too curious about my fins. Calli and Dory were also but it was French’s tight circles that confirmed my early AM session was complete. I was able to get a second observation session at about 10 AM – before the second encounter group met Maury and Alita. The youngsters – Dory, Stan and Tank were very playful and curious … mostly with each other which was a nice switch from the early morning session. There was some jawing and circle swims and some white water! Chris and Dave helped me with data collection as much of the rest of our team were diving and taking the boat over to Maya Key for the picnic. The afternoon had me reviewing data and chatting with Chris about the statistics for the final pec fin paper – comparing mom’s and their calves for their pectoral fin exchanges. Neat stuff!
The early evening offered lively conversation about several topics and some laughter during dinner. Everyone has a good day and the conversation revolved around some of the different critters seen during the scuba diving today. Tomorrow is our groups’ dolphin encounter and swim.
Kathleen and the DCP Eco-tour gang!
It’s a great morning that starts with a clear sky, a strong cup of coffee, and a plunge into clear water with social dolphins! Everyone was up early and our trek to Bailey’s was complete by 6:35 AM. I was in the water at 6:50 and greeted by Bailey and Tank, Poli, Tilly and several other dolphins. Champ and Calli decided my fins were REALLY interesting for a few minutes. Even French and Ronnie came by to investigate. The first session is always punctuated by more inquisitiveness around me and the MVA than subsequent sessions. By the end of the 26 min session, the dolphins were back to playing and socializing with each other, which was what I’d hoped for would happen. I also had the opportunity to join the group for the second morning dive, to “White Marker #21.” It was a nice dive that included observations of a scorpion fish and toad fish (see the photo here by John). The water was warm and clear and the current slight. Everyone had fun. Out afternoon was wrapped up with observations of the dolphins during a training session. I wanted to confirm the rake marks and other ID details of the dolphins for the ID sketches. And, Nat, Madison, Ron, Chris and Dave helped and also learned a bit more about how we recognize each individual in the group.
We had a great first day that finished with a good meal and lively conversation! We look forward to more tomorrow!
Kathleen & the DCP Eco-tour gang!