Kathleen Dudzinski

Kathleen Dudzinski

Data Collection at DE - Day 1, 2019
24 July 2019

Data Collection at DE - Day 1, 2019

Our team arrived late yesterday to Nassau for 3 packed days of research. Our team includes Heather, Jill, and Donna who joined Kathleen for this field session at Blue Lagoon Island, home of Dolphin Encounters.
We are here to collaborate with Te-Shalla and Destaney in collecting data on whether dolphins express a choice in receiving a single fish versus a jackpot of fish in advance of studying whether they will choose the larger amount after a delay or the single fish immediately.
We did lots of standing and observing and watching dolphins. It was the best way to spend our day! Among friends and with dolphins! We also toured a bit of the island and enjoyed a delicious lunch. (the reader might notice a theme to our field reports - when in the field, meals become very important as well as a time for chatting about results and protocols!)
We have another early morning tomorrow and another day of data collection.
Stay tuned!
Kathleen, Donna, Jill, and Heather
P.s. in the blog photo, you can see a young male selecting one of the targets for this study.

Tagged under
DCP’s RIMS Summary - January 2019
24 July 2019

DCP’s RIMS Summary - January 2019

I spent a VERY productive three weeks on Roatan at Anthony’s Key Resort (AKR) collecting data on the dolphins at the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences (RIMS). I was joined by two student groups – one (14 students) from Colorado State University (CSU) and one (11 students) from the University of Rhode Island (URI). Thank you to Dr. K (CSU) and Dr. R (URI) for continuing to collaborate with me and DCP and co-teaching students on topics focused on animal behavior and physiology. (Thank you also to Ron B. and his family for participating in some of DCP’s first week programs on this field session!) During my third week in the field this month, I was joined by Heather, Dee and John. We crammed as much research and data collection into 7 days as seemed humanly possible!
Here are the numbers:
I had 22 data collection and observation sessions that yielded 22 hrs of video data (11 hrs each on my GoPro3 and the MVA2 system). Logging the videos (for dolphin IDs and duration on screen) will keep me (and student interns and volunteers) busy for several months!
With CSU and URI student assistance, we began collecting data on how the dolphins at RIMS use the area of their habitat. We collected instantaneous scan samples of where dolphins were (visible at the surface) in their enclosure and also what their activity level was during each scan. Comments and suggestions from students in both groups allowed Heather, Dee and me to revise the data sheets and collect more than two dozen scans to form a pilot data set.
With Teri, Dee, and Heather, we continued collecting data to better understand how creative dolphins are; Dee collected video data adjacent to Teri when she queried dolphins. Heather documented the session trials and details and I was the in-water person effectively treading water and filming both underwater and surface views from the dolphin perspective during each session. We were able to conduct four sessions each with 11 dolphins. Again, we will be analyzing data for a few months to get an idea of just how creative bottlenose dolphins at RIMS are …
We could not have had such a productive field session without assistance from the RIMS training staff and AKR team members who variously shuttled us back and forth between Bailey’s Key and Anthony’s Key – THANK YOU! And, thank you for all folks from AKR, RIMS, DCP, CSU and URI for facilitating a really great data collection session. I could think of no better way to launch 2019 than with a productive field session punctuated by great weather, awesome underwater visibility, eager students, and playful dolphins!
Happy 2019!!
Cheers
Kathleen

Tagged under
Shifting Currents, Invigorating Winds, and Dolphins!
24 July 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

Tagged under
Shifting Currents, Invigorating Winds, and Dolphins!
24 July 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

Tagged under
A Very Busy Day!
24 July 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

Tagged under
Sun, Rain, Clear and silty visibility – the day ran the gamut!
24 July 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

Tagged under
Data Collection – Behavior, Communication, Cognition!
24 July 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

Tagged under
Research took Center Stage today!
24 July 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.

Tagged under
URI group departure, More researchers arrive
24 July 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

Tagged under
Close Encounters of the Dolphin Kind!
24 July 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!

Tagged under
Data Collection is Hard!
24 July 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!

Tagged under
Day and Nightlife of the Sea
24 July 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. We each spent time with a different dolphin and trainer. It was well worth the change of plans to get to know the dolphins better.
Our morning was packed because after sitting with the trainers we did another observation of Kathleen collecting data – a second morning session. The dolphins were much less active after having had breakfast. These two sessions were followed by an hour of free time so we could work on our portfolios. Lunch was later and after lunch we reviewed video in the RIMS classroom – continuing to sketch the different dolphins. We noticed a slight improvement in confirming IDs of the dolphins on the video. There is a lot less guessing and shouting out various dolphin names and more often than not, the first name offered matches the dolphin on the screen!
Our afternoon wrapped up with a discussion of an article on mother-calf swimming – locomotion formation. Our discussion was lively and was punctuated by a video of a dolphin calf swimming with mom and others from Kathleen’s video archive. The calf was only 2 weeks old!
Next, we got ready for and departed on our night snorkel. We saw numerous fish: squirrelfish, puffer fish, an octopus, a lizard fish, some blue tangs, a sergeant major that was guarding eggs (as denoted by its purplish color hue), and a large hermit crab. We also saw a very large trunkfish. Katlyn got stung by a box jellyfish with the evidence a seeming sting wrapped around her arm. Vinegar was helpful to decrease the sting.
We rode back to the resort enjoying the sky full of stars. Dinner was wonderful and we are all ready for bed!
Tomorrow is another day in paradise.
Cheers
The URI Rams!

P.S. the group photo is from first thing this morning.

Tagged under
Rain, Sun and Maya Key!
24 July 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 seaweed for, the dolphins. Kathleen spent an extra 10 min in the water, after which we all departed Bailey’s for breakfast.
At breakfast, we tried “flitters,” which are a type of square fried dough. Very tasty. We had about 45 min between breakfast and getting to the bus for Maya Key so we tried our hands (and feet) at paddle boarding – some with more success (and drier) than others. A few of us were diligent and transcribed our slates from the morning observations.
We took the bus to Maya Key where bright, sunny, and hot skies greeted us. We also snorkeled and saw some neat fish: a smooth trunk fish, French and banded angelfish, lots of parrotfish, flounder, disco fish, squirrelfish, trumpetfish, triggerfish, baby blue tangs, and more. We also got to meet an 18 yr old male South American sea lion and a few of us even fed him a few fish. Also, the animal collection was very diverse. And, of course, the food was delicious!!
After returning from Maya Key, we had about 30 min to chill and then met at the RIMS classroom to see some of the morning video and discuss two pectoral fin papers. We wrapped up the pectoral fin paper discussion on a dock watching the sunset. Dinner was scrumptious and followed by reviewing the rest of the video collected this morning. The dolphins were just as active underwater as above!
Looking forward to tomorrow!
Cheers
The URI Rams!

P.S> thanks to Kiran for today's blog photo of the snorkel dock at Maya Key!

Tagged under
Sunday – first day of data collection and dolphin learning!
24 July 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 to try to record dolphin behavior underwater. It was only drizzling when we got in the water. It was difficult and awkward to swim with the MVA for some but easier for others of us. It was positively buoyant so swimming underwater was not easy!
Our afternoon was spent reviewing the morning video data collected as well as learning details about dolphin IDs and sketching the dolphins while chatting about why confirming individual IDs is important (for a variety of reasons).
We had a bit of free time to keep up with our reading and also do some paddle boarding! Kiran also picked up three pieces of trash … woohoo! Tonight also had us attending a fish ID talk. We were pleased to have the talk tonight before we go snorkeling so we know what to look out for underwater. Jennifer would like to see parrotfish while Juliette wants to see a smooth trunkfish and Annie wants to see some blue tangs.
We coordinated in competition for the Roatan Marine Park tags versus bracelets – they are a green color for 2019. We are well past Roatan midnight and will be starting early (6:15 AM!) again tomorrow!
Until then,
Cheers
The URI Rams!

Tagged under
Changing of the Guard – sort of!
24 July 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 to swing in a hammock.
The URI group arrived at about 4:45 PM and we delighted to see their first sunset on Roatan! It was a big yellow orb dropping behind Bailey’s Key. Their journey began at midnight on Friday evening and everyone wore giant smiles even though they were tired. We start tomorrow early so tonight had everyone wrapping up their evening before Roatan midnight (aka 8 pm!)
Until tomorrow and URI’s first dolphin observations and data collection session.
Cheers
Kathleen and the URI Rams (yes! Both schools have the ram as mascot!!)

Tagged under
It’s too soon to say goodbye!
24 July 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 trainer being trained to do an encounter and to see all the different cues and multi-tasking that is required to make a full program. Thank you, Sara and Nick, for a great encounter with Tilly and Calli (who was replaced by Elli for a few minutes). It was nice to see that when the dolphins do not want to do something, they are not forced … the trainers move on to another behavior or event. Thank you, Tilly, for allowing us to do the group photo!! Thank you to Dante for calming Tilly and to Teri for setting up the shot!
Our encounter was followed immediately by our dolphin swim, which was amazing and surreal. It was a free swim and the dolphins could do anything they wanted and we might see them or we might not. We each saw several dolphins. We saw lots of play with each other and some curiosity about us underwater. It felt like they were observing us more than we were watching them. It was neat to hear their vocalizations – their clicks and whistles. We were out of our element and squarely in theirs! The sounds seemed more exaggerated than we expected. The swim was completely different from our surface observations and from sitting on the platform. Our respect for dolphins certainly increased this morning!
Our encounter/swim was followed by some observations of the dolphins for our research projects – many of us got a bit too much sun while others reapplied sunscreen and protected our skin while bronzing.  We had a brief bit of free time prior to lunch (another tasty meal!!) and then headed down to RIMS to receive a lecture on training and operant conditioning from Teri. We got a sense of the dedication and hard work it takes to be a trainer and work with the dolphins. Having Teri’s perspective gave us a well-rounded picture of what the trainers do day-to-day. The late afternoon saw some of us with free time and others who returned to Bailey’s for a bit more observation time.
Our last evening dinner was delicious and culminated with a giant birthday cake for Ron and Marissa. The cake was vanilla with a strawberry, cherry and chocolate center layer and whipped cream icing. Ron and Marissa were cutting GIANT pieces of cake! Audrey, tiniest human in the group, had the largest slice!
Our evening wrapped up watching the video Kathleen collected this morning. We will have another data collection session in the morning before final packing and departure for home. It’s been a great week for honing our critical thinking skills and, of course, learning about dolphins! It was also good to spend time gaining perspective from the dolphin’s point of view and not just our views on the dolphins. Thank you to Kathleen for bringing us into her world (snaps!).
Cheers
the CSU RAMS in Roatan 2019 group!

P.S. the photo below shows us during our encounter!

IMG 6726 CSUencounter

Tagged under
Day 6 - Rays, jellies and reefs, Oh My!
24 July 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 different island architecture as we motored to our farthest snorkel spot. The first snorkel had lots of fish that we could ID because of the fish ID talk. Not all of us saw the octopus but it was eating a conch and was draped over the shell. We saw lionfish and sea urchins and lots of fish. Of course, one or two of us also decided to have a jellyfish encounter … without permission of the jellyfish! Vinegar works wonders on jellyfish stings, as does a fresh water shower!
On both the first and second snorkel session (because there were two on this one boat trip today), even though we had a wide-open ocean area, we bottlenecked around each other. So, each of us knows what it feels like to receive a fin kick to the face. At the end of the first snorkel, several of us saw a giant stingray (not a fish tail because it was bigger than Dr. K!).
After a delicious and much needed lunch, we went back to Bailey’s Key to try our hand at collecting data for our own research projects. We worked out lots of kinks about our data collection and worked out some details. It is much harder to count respiration rates than we originally thought and we also realized there were full and partial breaths! We also got quite a few questions answered by the trainers and we want to give them a thank you shout out!! Thank you for letting us be in the way to observe you and ask questions.
From Bailey’s we went to the RIMS classroom to listen to Jennifer about sea turtle conservation. There was a lot of information in a relatively short amount of time. It is clear Jennifer is passionate about turtle conservation. It was interesting to learn that the first thing you think about conservation is not necessarily the best way.
We just finished reviewing the morning video data that Kathleen collected and we agree with her that the underwater visibility was spectacular! Now, we are on to dinner!
Tomorrow is our encounter and swim with the dolphins, after of course we collect data in the morning!
Cheers
the CSU RAMS in Roatan 2019 group!

P.S. dinner was delicious!

Tagged under
Fun in the Sun!!
24 July 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 we all had solid questions. Now, we must expand on our protocols and test our what we believe to be the best method for data collection.
The evening presented us with another culinary buffet and an introduction to the culture of the island – the Garifuna dancers. The meal was again delicious and the dancers were fun to watch – Amber even got up to dance with one of the ladies! The crab races were won by Jackson’s hermit crab, after which Jackson who received high-fives from the rest of us (see photo below). Ansley, Ralea, Grant and Kyler all attempted to win the limbo contest … to no avail! But it was fun to watch them try!
All in all – we had a great day on Roatan and look forward to another early day of data collection tomorrow!
Cheers
the CSU RAMS in Roatan 2019 group!

P.S. Shane, Ron & Kathleen were sad to report there was no mac 'n cheese on tonight's buffet!

Jackson

 

Tagged under

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 (p.s. Bailey is a dolphin!).
Ralea – I had a wonderful day with dolphins and people and then after the night snorkel I got stung by a jelly fish twice (what a day!)
Jennifer – we experienced a torrential downpour this afternoon and also had rain this morning that yielded a rainbow to start the day.
Kyler – We saw the first sunrise and sunset of the new year and we learned every minute in between.
Marcela – There was no better way to start 2019 than by filling it with learning and laughter with our new friends both human and dolphin.
Grant – From an amazing classroom session to a night snorkel, a lot of things have happened in 2019 already but the best so far is spending an hour with Maury the dolphin.
Ally – My favorite part was being able to get up close and really get to know one specific dolphin and one specific trainer – to see how smart the dolphins are and what Maury’s personality is like and how well she works with Jocelyn. It was really interesting to hear about how each trainer arrived at RIMS to work with the dolphins.
Marissa – The best day of my life thus far getting a personal introduction to the dolphins from the trainers was an experience I will never forget because of the close contact and surreal experience.
Amber – my favorite part so far has been watching the dolphins in their day-to-day life (“back stage”) as a researcher as opposed to how the majority of the guest or visitors see the dolphins.
Ansley – I’ve been very grateful for Kathleen’s and Dr. K’s patience in teaching us various concepts and helping us to be better scientists.
Kaelyn – I have really enjoyed learning about all the different animals so far, even the animals on Maya Key … and learning about them through a new lens (perspective).
Andrea – I’m grateful for the opportunity to get involved more up-close and personal with the dolphins today and to see their personalities shine through.
Jackson – even though trainer for the day was super long, it was worth doing everything we did! We fed the dolphins and asked them for behaviors. We also shared a boogie board ride with dolphins! The only not great part was washing the coolers and preparing the fish for the coolers.
All students are turning the corner on their own research projects. Today was a good day.
Cheers
the CSU RAMS in Roatan 2019 group!
P.S. Paige brought us a nice selection of chocolate – Thank you!
P.S.S. Thank you Ralea for the photo!

Tagged under
Happy New Year’s! It’s already 2019, as we celebrated Roatan Midnight!
24 July 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 yesterday morning followed by a dive response lecture. While Kathleen set up her video and laptop, we got 5 minutes of culture when we visited the Roatan museum.
During the lecture, we were introduced to the topic that we’ll have to focus on for our own research projects. Dr. K introduced the topic with a juxtaposition of the following two approaches: behavior dictates physiology vs physiology dictates behavior. We had a lively debate during which we learned it is ok to fail if we learn from our experiences and move forward with knowledge.
Today was also our visit to Maya Key where we visited a replica of the Copan Mayan ruin and also spent time watching animals that were rescued exotics and have found a new home on Maya Key. We also bonded over numerous no-see-um bites as we walked around the island!
After lunch, we returned to AKR and had an afternoon informal discussion about collecting data before, during and after Kathleen collects data in the mornings. We learned about the new data sheets and also asked more questions about what we will be required to do for our own research projects and papers at the end of the week.
Dinner was a new year buffet that presented delicious food for the new year celebration; we got to meet the chef and thank him personally for his effort on our (and the rest of the resort guests) behalf. Thank you very much to Ron for treating us all to virgin piña coladas and daiquiris to celebrate the new year! Just before writing this report, we watched the video from this morning and welcomed AKR staff and a few other guests to watch or video and listen and chat.
Tomorrow will come sooner than we expect but we look forward to another great day of data collection and learning.
Cheers
the CSU RAMS in Roatan 2019 group!

Shane 31Dec

Tagged under
It’s New Year’s Eve Eve on Roatan!
24 July 2019

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 to ask for a curve, but we are doing our best.
Someone once said that rams aren't very good swimmers. We are happy to report that we both proved that saying right and wrong. While a few of us struggled with gear and put way too much liquid spit in our goggles, all of us eventually got comfortable and were exploring the reef of Bailey's Key like we had been doing it for a lot longer than 30 minutes.
We had some fantastic showers post-snorkel and made our way back to the classroom for the fish ID presentation. One of our professors, Dr. K, gave us the tip that if we arrive early, we would get great seats, as this was an all-resort presentation. While on first arrival we ended up being locked out and getting not the best seats, the presentation was fantastic, and we are excited to identify stuff tomorrow.
Cheers for tonight!
the CSU RAMS in Roatan 2019 group!

Tagged under
New Friends
24 July 2019

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 faces and the beautiful view that we can all enjoy. We are very fortunate to experience this view.
Sierra – The people here feel very genuine and honest and welcoming. We all seem to have the interest in the oceans and dolphins and it is cool we can all come together and learn about these topics that we all love.
Ansley – Even though it was awful to fall asleep on the airport floor prior to our travel nothing beat the views that greeted us on arrival to AKR.
Ralea – I really appreciated how everyone in our group was willing to chat and deal with my high energy level and we saw the ocean today!
Jennifer – I think it’s really interesting that our group participants have similar backgrounds in study but we all have different perspectives in how the course will be and what we will learn. It’ll be interesting to see the week progress.
Andrea – although nervous about the different unknowns and challenges, I’m excited to forma part of this experience.
Amber – I’m grateful to be able to conduct research in a field that is new to me and to do it in a wonderful place and to build new friendships and professional relationships.
Paige – I was very impressed by the camaraderie, despite the fatigue of the positive attitudes and energy and smiles all around during today’s travel!
Grant – it was really endearing to fly from the giant USA industrial airports to arrive to a tiny community airport where everyone seems to know everyone and it came across as a tight close community.
Heather – we have similarities but we all have different backgrounds and to come together is really cool.
Ally – The highlight after getting settled in was sitting on the hammock outside my room and it was very cool and I felt very thankful and relieved we all seemed to get along well.

Our CSU group has four honorary members – DCP supporters Ron and his family.
Kristin – the chaotic word I live in normally was juxtaposed immediately by the peace of nature on arrival.
Jackson – I am glad I came all the way here to snorkel and see dolphins – even though it was a long trip!
Audrey – I love the hammocks!
Ron – I’m just grateful you opened your world to all of us and to share your research and these amazing dolphins with us.
And, Shane, CSU’s professor – time to go – tomorrow starts early!
Cheers for tonight!
Kathleen and the CSU RAMS in Roatan 2019 group!

Tagged under
Dixie and Baloo
24 July 2019

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 Roatan (assuming the winter storms have not recently left too much havoc at the airports) mid-day.
Of course, as I packed gear, clothing, and datasheets, I had beagle assistance and attention! As the day nears its close, both Dixie and Baloo are keeping a close watch on me. If they had their way, I would never leave the house again! Too bad I can’t teach them how to collect data on dolphins!
Stay tuned as we’ll begin posting blog updates about the CSU adventure (aka field course) tomorrow (Saturday) night from Roatan.
Cheers
Kathleen

Tagged under
Overcast Skies Welcomed our Last Day on Site
24 July 2019

Overcast Skies Welcomed our Last Day on Site

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!

Tagged under
Thunder and Lightning Started the day!
24 July 2019

Thunder and Lightning Started the day!

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!
Cheers
Kathleen & the DCP Eco-tour Gang!

Thank you to Madison for sharing the coral christmas trees and our cleaning efforts!

beforecleaning Before cleaning and after cleaning cleaned

 

Tagged under
Wednesday Brings Rain, Dolphins & Fiesta!
24 July 2019

Wednesday Brings Rain, Dolphins & Fiesta!

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!
Cheers
Kathleen & the DCP Eco-tour Gang!

Tagged under
Data (x2!), dives, dolphin encounters and swims … and some rain!
24 July 2019

Data (x2!), dives, dolphin encounters and swims … and some rain!

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.
Stay tuned!
Cheers
Kathleen and the DCP Eco-tour gang!

Tagged under
Two observation sessions today – Happy October!
24 July 2019

Two observation sessions today – Happy October!

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.
Cheers
Kathleen and the DCP Eco-tour gang!

Tagged under
An Early Morning with Dolphins!
24 July 2019

An Early Morning with Dolphins!

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!
Cheers
Kathleen & the DCP Eco-tour gang!

Tagged under
Cars, Planes, Trains – Travel Day!
24 July 2019

Cars, Planes, Trains – Travel Day!

Saturday was travel day for the DCP RIMS/AKR eco-tour this week. John and I (and the rest of our group) took various car routes to get to the airports from which we departed. Three different airlines (and train rides between terminals in Atlanta – ok, it’s a stretch but it gets another mode in there) and several flights brought us to our destination – ROATAN! The boats will be used daily between islands to observe the dolphins and to snorkel or dive! Bill and Ron had a week head start on the rest of us as they came down a week early for diving. Dave, Chris, Nat, Jill, Don, Madison, John and I all arrived, unpacked and settled in. Of course, a few of us took a taxi boat over to Bailey’s to see all the dolphins – the gang was all there! The underwater visibility looked good and I hope it holds for Sunday morning!
We look forward to a week of data collection, snorkeling and scuba diving!
Stay tuned for more!
Cheers
Kathleen and DCP’s October 2018 Eco-tour gang

P.S. my apologies for not posting this report last night … fatigue won last night’s battle!

Tagged under
Another Field Session for DCP to AKR, RIMS in 2018!!
24 July 2019

Another Field Session for DCP to AKR, RIMS in 2018!!

It has been a couple of hectic days as we pack gear and prep for DCP’s Eco-tour to Roatan and Anthony’s Key Resort (AKR)! John is joining me along with 8 other participants – several of whom have joined DCP on previous eco-tours both to Roatan and to Bimini. I’ll be sure to introduce the team once we are settled in at AKR. Not only will I be collecting the daily non-invasive observations with the MVA but I’ll also be field testing two new protocols for collecting data about dolphin behavior from the surface. This will be a first for me because mostly I’m positioned underwater to observe and document dolphin interactions and behavior!
Because this is the third visit for me/DCP to AKR and the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences (RIMS), I’ll be starting on MVA tape ID # A21816! That’s right! We will begin this research visit on tape session #16! I look forward to seeing the dolphins and the trainers/care givers and catching up on the last couple of months!
Stay tuned to the DCP home page for daily updates from RIMS!
Cheers
Kathleen

Tagged under
Travel Home and Field Data Summary
24 July 2019

Travel Home and Field Data Summary

Saturday was our day of travel. Luckily, our flights were in the afternoon on Saturday. That meant we could do an early morning kayak (to Bailey’s!) and some morning yoga. Dr. H and Dr. D let all the Snorkelin’ Snakes know they could join us at ~6 am for these events! Still, we had only one participant – Kassandra! Our kayak was lovely – with a calm sea and slight breeze. We said good morning to the dolphins and wrapped up the early morning with a relaxing stretch yoga session!
The airport on Roatan was BUSY! The wait lounge is much expanded and we had a relatively calm wait for our flights.
The week was a huge success with several student projects completed and a better understanding of what it takes to conduct field research imparted (we hope!). And, for my (Dr. D’s) research, about 3 hours of video with stereo audio data were collected. We observed social-sexual interactions, play behaviors, a few chases, and some pair swims. The trip was a huge success, at least from my perspective!
The students will take the next several days to analyze the data they collected and write up their research projects. I will take the next few months to log the video data collected and add the details to our assessment of dolphin dyad relationships.
Thanks for following along with our field program!
Cheers
Kathleen

Tagged under
Dolphin Days are Over
24 July 2019

Dolphin Days are Over

The snorkel after data collection on dolphins was amazing! Kassandra’s favorite fish was the parrotfish. And we saw a sea turtle and a barracuda from the boat – both were amazing!
Paige had her best dolphin observation on our last day – the dolphins were extra loud this morning which was good for Paige because she was documenting dolphin vocal behavior.
Tank visited Alex P and Jessica three times … just to see us and play and hang out!
Kim confirmed that the dolphins were very vocal and active during morning observations – it was a two-thumbs up session!
Sam was pleased to be able to experience Gracie’s echolocation this afternoon. Teri had all the students get into the water to experience Gracie searching for a PVC loop when wearing eyecups – so she used her echolocation to find the loop.
Emily pointed out the sea turtle from the boat when they were heading to the snorkel spot off West End. Paloma saw an eel on the west side of Bailey’s Key during her last afternoon snorkel session. Jesus remembers the large school of blue tangs also over by Bailey’s Key during the last snorkel.
Alex has a whole new standard for snorkeling after today’s last snorkel trip to West End; the water was beautiful and the experience was life-changing. Soledad went way beyond her comfort zone when Alex C held her hand when they were in the water to experience Gracie’s use of echolocation; the echolocation seemed to tickle Soledad’s ears … in a good way!
Poli brought Gonzalo leaves and sea grass during the morning dolphin observation sessions – it was hard not to play with her during data collection!
Ashley is not ready to go home; she will miss the dolphins and the reef. Mike really enjoyed the echolocation experience with Gracie, too. Grant was pleased with the housekeeping time to review data … and get an overview of the data collected.
Pat enjoyed getting up early this morning for the first time this week and observing the dolphins and their behavior. Jessica: even though I did not go on the be-all-end-all snorkel trip, I got a chance to interact and swim the dolphins again and got an unsolicited kiss from Calli while Dory nibbled on my fins! Dr. H and Dr. D are happy that everyone survived with only minor scrapes but with much gained from new experiences and imparted understanding.
Cheers,
St. Mary’s Snorkelin’ Snakes

Tagged under
Murky Mangroves
24 July 2019

Murky Mangroves

We began the day with data collection while Dr. D was in the water. It was the most interactive that Paige has seen since we’ve been here this week. Gonzalo said that one of the most interesting things was all the new behaviors we saw this morning, such as barrel rolls and some object play. There were also some odd combinations of dolphins this morning and they were playing in trios and small groups. Alex C saw a puffer fish when doing the observations this morning for the sea grass biodiversity study.
Actually, this morning there were two concurrent data collection sessions – while Dr. D was observing dolphins, a portion of the class was assisting Soledad and Grant with their last session for recording sea grass and the critters who live in the grasses.
Our morning wrapped up with a talk from Teri, Head of Training at RIMS. We learned how the trainers at RIMS do their dolphin training and teaching. One really cool behavior is the difference between bring natural versus artificial objects from their environment to the trainer.
Before lunch, we worked on a bit of our data review and summary. As usual, lunch was delightful for our taste buds.
Our afternoon boat snorkel had us travel to the mangroves in an attempt to see the tiny animals that call the mangrove roots home. Unfortunately, underwater turbidity was high and we could barely see our hands in front of our faces … meaning we did not see any marine animals. Plan B was a return to the boat and a small jaunt to a reef adjacent to a sandy area. It was a drift snorkel – meaning the boat dropped us off and then came to pick us up after about 30 minutes. We saw a lionfish, giant hermit crab, lots of coral. Soledad chatted with our boat captain, Kino, and learned about the island while the rest of us enjoyed the underwater demonstration of fishes and coral – it was a colorful snorkel with lots of fun punctuated by wavelets that periodically topped our snorkels!
The late afternoon gave us a bit of free time to work on data, or nap, depending on how tired each of us was after the boat snorkel. We cleaned up and went to listen to Dr. D’s talk about dolphins. A second night snorkel at Bailey’s Key was enjoyed by Jessica, Sam, Kim, Kassandra and Dr. H with Dr. D as the safety guide.
Tomorrow is our last day and it will be filled with data collection, dolphins, and snorkeling!
Cheers,
St. Mary’s Snorkelin’ Snakes

Tagged under
Day 5 – Turtle Lovin’, and other aquatic animal observations
24 July 2019

Day 5 – Turtle Lovin’, and other aquatic animal observations

The day began wet – the evening was riddled with thunder storms that kept many of us awake. The dawn was behind the clouds and the beginning of the dolphin observations were rainy. Some of us got to sleep in a little bit longer because our groups split up for data collection sessions – some watching dolphins and others assessing biodiversity over seagrass. Mike never meets a stranger, even when he’s doing research. The visitors at Baileys thought he was one of the RIMS staff; he greeted folks with a smile. Grant and Soledad’s group kayaked and snorkeled in an effort to videotape the sea grass for the biodiversity study. (Can you tell the morning was data-collection-filled?!)
Some of us spent about 7 hrs today at Bailey’s Key (specifically under the Palapa) observing the before, during, and post encounter behavior of the dolphins.
Lunch was delicious today!!
After lunch, some of us watched the video data from the morning – there were lots of interesting (weird) sounds. Paige believed the sounds were quite odd.
Dory was making MUCH chatter most of the day, mostly above the water surface. She sounded almost like a human baby. Also, Dr. D’s footage showed all the dolphins today – i.e., she saw everyone and everyone was on video. Mrs. Beasley seemed quite stoic.
Soledad was Dr. D’s kayak chauffeur for data collection of the sea grass video along the east side of Anthony’s Key. (Soledad was a strong kayaker and the ride was quite smooth!)
We had a sea turtle conservation talk this afternoon and we learned quite a bit about them – they don’t have teeth; they lay 3-5 clutches of 80-100 eggs, and more. We were introduced to the Arribada conservation project in Costa Rica – it was amazing to learn how many eggs actually hatch (only 12%!).
Sam speaks for all of us as she says we are anticipating tonight’s fiesta evening event!
This morning’s session included some rain and Emily’s paper got wet but she saved the information on it!
Jesus mentioned that overpopulation is not just a problem for humans but is also an issue for other animals, like Olive Ridley’s turtles in Costa Rica.
Gonzolo enjoyed watching Dr. Owen win the Name Game during a few minutes of down time while we waited for Dr. D to set up the video for review.
Tonight is the fiesta – we’ll learn about the Roatan culture and enjoy a picnic buffet and some other festivities!
Cheers,
St. Mary’s Snorkelin’ Snakes

Tagged under
Day 4 - Nighttime Adventures
24 July 2019

Day 4 - Nighttime Adventures

Our morning began as usual with data collection for DCP and Dr. D. The dolphins were especially active this morning! Paige got splashed by one of the dolphins while doing observations. We had a lively breakfast that included a birthday song for Kassandra (and Dr H. sent happy birthday wishes to Katie, her daughter!). The AKR team had a nice coconut cream pie with Happy Birthday written on the plate!
We had a very enticing cognitive lecture this morning. We learned the parallels between dolphin and human intelligence. After the lecture, the group split up to collect data on two different student projects. Paloma, Jesus, Alex C., Ashley, Mike, and Emily stayed with Dr. D to learn about video logging and ID’ing dolphins while the rest of the crew went to collect data on biodiversity assessment in sea grass.
We regrouped at lunch and shared what we learned among ourselves. Then, early afternoon had us shifting groups with Grant, Gonzolo, Kim, Sam, Kassandra, Alex P, Sole, and Paige learning about dolphin IDs and video logs and data analyses while the others went over to Baileys Key to observe dolphins before, during and after encounters.
We had a few hours off before our first ever night snorkel. We saw an aqua-blue octopus, sea stars and an eel, as well as a lobster, a puffer fish and squirrelfish. Ashley saw a tiger grouper. Some felt it was a tad scary snorkeling at night and we were all grouped together. Paige looked at what was visible in her light rather than look out into the black abyss. The night snorkel also had lots of rain – heavy but brief.
Dinner was punctuated by lots of laughter, which was fostered because we do not use our phones but rather have lively conversations! Until tomorrow …
Cheers,
St. Mary’s Snorkelin’ Snakes

Tagged under
The Sensual Dolphin Experience
24 July 2019

The Sensual Dolphin Experience

Our morning began with a BOOM! It was a dark and stormy morning and mother nature gave us a wake-up call with a thunder alarm. But the rain and storminess were short-lived and the skies cleared to blue from cloudy before we water-taxied to Bailey’s Key for data collection and observations. The dolphins were much more active at the surface this morning than yesterday. We observed lots of play, lots of body and pec slaps and jaw claps. We saw some speed swims and chases. We also had our first official data collection session for our own research projects. It was exciting because we got to pull the reigns (from Neptune … maybe) and apply our protocols for our studies.
We stayed at Baileys this morning to participate in our dolphin encounter and swim. We met Callie and Elli during the encounter, which was much more controlled because we were with a trainer and got to meet the dolphins up-close – to see their eyes, ears, and feel their skin. After the encounter, we did the swim and we heard the dolphins before we saw them. Our perspective underwater was completely different from our vantage during surface observations. Mike thought being in the water gave us an understanding of how large the enclosure was for the dolphins. Alex said the swim really pointed out to her that we were in the dolphins’ home; we were visitors welcomed for a play date. Dr. H was delighted that Tank greeted each one of us! He is a precocious calf.
After our dolphin swim, we had to skedaddle off Baileys to the dive shop to catch the bus over to Maya Key. The streets were narrow and the cities were seemingly underdeveloped. The divide between locals and tourists in terms of structures and buildings was clear. At Maya Key, we visited the animals and Paige observed the monkeys who now call Maya Key home. It was incredible snorkeling with a close drop-off, lots of blue tangs, parrot fish and neat coral. We practiced data collection procedures for Grant and Soledad’s project and learned that Grant and Soledad are the only two who can snorkel a straight line! The Mayan temple replica was neat and showcased several artifacts.
This trip has already pushed a few of us outside our comfort zones: Alex C. felt a bit uncomfortable at the drop-off – she heard the Jaws theme song when she swam near the edge. Gonzalo received a jellyfish sting that was itchy but he persevered!
We wrapped up the afternoon with some paddle-boarding and kayaking back at Anthony’s Key Resort. A bit before dinner, we watched the video data Dr. D collected this morning and had a lively discussion about dolphin behavior and their vocal production.
Tomorrow brings more dolphins and our first night snorkel!
Cheers,
St. Mary’s Snorkelin’ Snakes

Tagged under
Day 2 – Snorkeling in Salt Water, Getting our Feet Wet
24 July 2019

Day 2 – Snorkeling in Salt Water, Getting our Feet Wet

Everyone was on time, early in fact, for our data collection session. We met at the water taxi stand at 6:45 for our boat ride to Bailey’s Key. We got to observe our first interaction with Dr. D and the dolphins. Alex P. got to play fetch with Dory with a red leaf, they played about 6 times. Emily made friends with all the resident cats on Baileys and one helped her collect data.
Several of us met the dolphins up close from the trainers – we got to sit with a few of them to learn more about each of the dolphins and be able to recognize some of their marks for ID.
Free time consisted of paddle-boarding successfully and kayaking around Anthony’s Key.
Ashley’s hair is really not liking this humidity but she would live here all the days of her life.
Sam got stung by a bee when we were at the pool testing out our snorkel gear.
After snorkeling near Bailey’s Key, we got to eat fresh coconuts and drink coconut milk. Grant had an unexpected engagement with some fire coral (but I’m ok).
After the afternoon dolphin encounter, we watched the dolphins a bit more and it looked like the dolphins were pair swimming and hanging out with each other.
The fish ID lecture was really interesting and we learned lots about the fish around the reef.
Soledad took her snorkeling one fin (step) at a time and did not die.
We learned more about dolphin rubbers and rubbees to help with our data collection.
Paloma returned to her place of bliss – snorkeling in very clear, warm waters.
Overall, it was an amazing day; we loved it!
Cheers,
St. Mary’s Snorkelin’ Snakes

Tagged under
Finally Here!
24 July 2019

Finally Here!

Our day began at ~4 AM to travel to the airport to begin our trek south. This field week on Roatan is a culmination of our spring class called PS4363 – Roatan Field Study. We were on summer break and traveled from as far as El Paso to get to San Antonio for our flight. We learned that a few of us have turbulence sensitivity! Thank goodness for pretzels and ginger-ale!
On arrival, we went through the immigration line for about an hour and then swiftly got our bags and headed via shuttle to Anthony’s Key Resort. We were greeted by LOTS of stairs to get to check in. We were a bit surprised by the lack of humidity we felt.
Our rooms are comfy and air-conditioned and each porch has lovely hammocks! We are not sure how much time we will get to use them … but they look like they would be a great place for a nap! Or maybe a good spot to read some of our required papers for discussion.
After getting checked in, we decided to try the kayaks and paddle-boards. Some of us were better at coordinated paddling than others. Some of us had to figure which side was front and which was back on the paddle-boards. We were all able to get over to Bailey’s Key to see the dolphins! It was a great way to spend time before dinner!
Dinner was delicious and we had lots of great conversations (especially since Dr. D said no phones at dinner!). The food was astoundingly tasty.
We wrapped up the day learning about the plan for tomorrow and getting introduced to the data notebook.
Tomorrow begins early with data collection at 6:45 … until then!
Cheers,
Alex, Alex, Paloma, Mike, Grant, Jesus, Paige, Ashley, Soledad, Emily, Gonzalo, Kimberli, Sam, Kassandra, Jessica, Pat, and Drs. H & D

Tagged under
Packed and Ready to Fly South!
24 July 2019

Packed and Ready to Fly South!

It’s not that I can pack for my field sessions in my sleep. It’s that I have a trusty “to-include” list that makes packing easy with each passing year! The MVA and hydrophones are tucked into their bag with care and cushioning. Mask, fins, snorkel are snuggled adjacent to wet suit, bathing suits and rash/sun guard shirts. The cameras are in my carryon bag along with the data notebook with blank sheets waiting for observations of dolphin behavior and vocal activity!
I’ve connected with Dr. Heather Hill via email to confirm the student group is ready—the group joining me at Anthony’s Key Resort (AKR) and the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences (RIMS) for a week of observations and data collection is from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, TX. You’ll meet then in a day or two as the students will be writing the daily blogs for the week.
I look forward to seeing the dolphins again, and of course the humans who care for them and the humans who care for us during our field course/data collection session. I wonder whether the dolphins will ignore me or greet me – in this image from October, Callie and Poli seem to check me out.
One thing I do not have worry about preparing for is the humidity or heat of the sun! I.e., traveling to Roatan from Florida is simply trading one area’s humidity for another’s. And, residing in Florida has given me a good sun-tan base, though I did double check that I packed my reef-safe sunblock!
Stay tuned to the DCP home page for the next week or so for daily updates from Roatan!
Cheers
Kathleen

Tagged under
Calli
24 July 2019

DCP Field Course Wrap-Up for January 2018 at RIMS, AKR

I spent two weeks on Roatan with two engaged, energetic and enthusiastic groups of students. One from Colorado State University and one from the University of Rhode Island (URI). Collectively, we were able to record a bit more than four hours of video data in nine early morning sessions. Mother Nature threw quite a bit of rain, wind and waves at us during both weeks but kicked it up a notch during our second week at Anthony's Key Resort and the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences.
Each group had safe and uneventful travels home, though my trek was a tad delayed this past weekend. All inbound flights on Saturday were delayed, and one was even cancelled! The group from URI was able to depart relatively on time and my flight was two hours delayed with an unplanned stop in Tampa to change pilots. So, I had the opportunity to spend an extra night in Atlanta on my way home. While not raining, the temps were decidedly lower than on Roatan!
When all is said and done, we had a very productive two weeks. I'll be processing video logs for several months. I also learned about a software for processing behavior from video. I'll need practice on it but I think it will be a useful tool!
Thank you all for paying attention and sharing our Roatan Adventures with us!
Cheers
Kathleen

Tagged under
Dory Leaping
24 July 2019

Mother Nature Saved the Best for Last!

It was the most beautiful day so far this week because the sun greeted us as we took the taxi boat to Bailey’s Cay! We did a full 30 min observation session despite the very strong current and the cheeky, rambunctious dolphins. The dolphins were very active today; they were very social at the surface also. We did pretty well recognizing the dolphins who swam by our observation posts.

After dolphin observations, we had a scrumptious breakfast followed by a data analysis session where we taught Kathleen how to use “BORIS,” a behavioral coding software. It was relatively straightforward and user-friendly for documenting both state and point event samples. Justin and Kathleen took pity on the fact that we’d not had much sun all week. So, they gave us an hour before lunch to soak up the sun!

We had a great lunch (cheese pizza, cheeseburgers, and sea bass). After lunch, we went back to Bailey’s Cay to observe training sessions. We divvied up into four groups of 3 and each group had a different trainer and dolphin. Kianna, Hannah and Gabby hung out with Gracie and her trainer. Gracie gave them hugs and kisses and was showing off to Alita by doing behaviors that Alita was learning … so a case of observational learning. Sam, Becky, and Erin sat with Eldon who was training Stan and Dory. Dory was a bit pushy and swam around while Stan was trying to do the behaviors Eldon asked. Stan and Dory are classic toddlers with huge amounts of energy. Chloe, Kendall, and Lauren observed Elyork as he spent time with Bailey and her calf and also Mrs. Beasley and Carmella. Elyork was letting the calf know that fish from him was ok and was introducing him to targeting. Mrs. Beasley and Carmella had light sessions and mostly hung out. Jess, Liz, and Danielle got to watch Zachary, Cain and Nick work with Calli and Elli. Calli was practicing husbandry procedures and we got to see her remora up close! We also noticed new rake marks on Calli’s right side near her pec fin.

We had the afternoon to ourselves (all 2.5 hrs!) to explore Bailey’s and Anthony’s Cay. A few of us rode horses while a few others showered, read, visited the beach and contemplated the paddle boards. Our evening has wrapped up with a rowdy discussion on animal welfare and the issues around captivity. We are writing our blog before dinner so we can have a leisurely meal and enjoy our last evening on Roatan at AKR!

Tomorrow, we head home. It’s been a radical, unforgettable week.

Kathleen, Justin and the URI MMPB team

Tagged under
coral
24 July 2019

Stormy Skies Supplied Squid, Snorkeling, and Sea turtles

Due to inclement weather, we were unable to venture over to Bailey’s Cay this morning for observations. We slept in and then enjoyed breakfast. After breakfast, we went to the other side of the island for a snorkel trip. The boat ride to the snorkel was bumpy but it was extremely fun because we were given the opportunity to drive the boat. The snorkel was incredible and the biodiversity was incredible which included lion fish, queen angel, trigger fish file fish and more. (Thank you, Danielle, for today’s blog photo!) The drift snorkel was also a different experience from the snorkel at Maya Cay because it dropped us off at one location and picked us up at another.
Two snorkels were initially planned but due to turbidity the guides decided to call off the second snorkel. After a refreshing shower, we sat down at lunch and discussed our thoughts about the snorkel. We enjoyed a much-needed nap and then had a discussion in maternal styles in bottlenose dolphins. Our discussion revealed that dolphin and human mothers are similar in that individuals have different parenting styles. We were able to connect the findings of the paper to anecdotes from the trainers and Kathleen. We headed over to RIMS for a presentation by Jennifer, Education Director. She gave a great talk about sea turtles and their conservation needs. Anatomy diversity evolution and conservation efforts were addressed. We all thought these topics and talk were enlightening. Sea turtles truly are living fossils.
We enjoyed a delicious and filling dinner. Gabby enjoyed hearty portions of pasta!! We finished the night by playing a rousing game of charades, while we waited for Kathleen to return from her talk to the local Rotary Club.
Hopefully the weather changes for our last full day on Roatan.
Until tomorrow,
Kathleen, Justin and the URI MMPB team

Tagged under
Mac and Cheese
24 July 2019

Wind, Rain, Strong Currents, Waves … Mother Nature seems to be cranky!

This morning was a lesson in flexibility. We had an interesting morning – we got onto the taxi boat, headed for Bailey’s Cay with high hopes for another dolphin observation session. The current had other ideas and refused our landing request. It was the first time ever that Kathleen saw the taxi boat not able to smoothly land against the dock at Bailey’s Cay.
So, we came back and had a pre-breakfast nap and then enjoyed a warm leisurely breakfast before we spent the morning analyzing video data to confirm dolphin IDs in the footage from yesterday. We have improved significantly and we’ve gained confidence in recognizing and confirming individual dolphins from the video footage. It took an hour to code for just 10 minutes of video, which seemed to go by in the blink of an eye. We realize it should take longer to review and code a video but the practice of it was a realization of what it takes.
Lunch preceded a session for each of us to work on our portfolio projects. The portfolios are the students’ opportunity to demonstrate their ability to connect the research we read about with their in-the-field experiences and activities.
Our afternoon included a discussion about self-rubbing versus pectoral fin social rubbing contact among dolphins. We learned a bit about what went into collecting and reviewing the data for that DCP paper. Then, we had a dolphin training lecture from Teri Bolton, Assistant Director of RIMS. It was an inspiring and really amazing lecture. We liked how passionate she is about what she does, her work with the dolphins and the other trainers.
We had a group office hours session to discuss our portfolios. We decided to wrap up our field report now because we are about to embark on the AKR Fiesta night and we are anticipating the mac and cheese … Kathleen has really set our expectations high for that portion of the meal!
We hope tomorrow’s weather will improve and we are doing a sun dance before dinner, as Kathleen write’s this blog for us!
Until tomorrow,
Kathleen, Justin and the URI MMPB team
P.S. As evidenced by today’s blog photo, the mac and cheese was delicious!

Tagged under
RonnieFrench
24 July 2019

A Dolphin-filled Day!

We finally did a full observation session! It was crazy to be able to do a full session. The dolphins were surprisingly quiet – not a lot of surface action in general and very uninterested in us on the docks. The water and the weather were pleasantly calmer this morning compared to the previous days! The 30 min observation session went by really fast! It was cool to go around the docks for this session and see the dolphins in other areas of the enclosure. It was interesting that we saw dolphins that Kathleen did not get on camera because they were in other areas of the enclosure.
Breakfast was wonderful as always and the pancakes are highly recommended by Kianna!
The rest of our morning was in the classroom where we watched today’s footage and had a discussion about the pec fin papers. It was clear that the dolphins were very quiet underwater – they mirrored their underwater quietness and low activity at the surface. It seemed from our view that dolphins were always around Kathleen but there were bits of time on the footage where there were no dolphins in view, which was surprising. It was also neat to see the pec fin behaviors and postures that we had only talked about or read about. It is starting to come clear the relationships that these dolphins have with each other.
During our class discussion, we learned that we’d have our dolphin swim at 1:30 today – woohoo!
So, after a joyful tasty lunch, we put on our bathing suits, grabbed our snorkel gear and headed down to RIMS. We got another short encounter with Alita and then donned our gear for the swim. Below are our brief impressions of our swims.
Justin: I was impressed by their ability to glide through the water while I struggled against the current!
Chloe: it was exciting to see the animals we’d been fawning over up close and personal in their own element as well as explore different areas of the enclosure.
Gabby: I really liked seeing the dolphin calf up close and personal because we usually don’t get to see a calf so close. Let’s just say my goggles were filling with water and it was not the ocean.
Lauren: I appreciated the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be able to see and swim with these animals in a natural lagoon.
Becky: I thought it was really incredible that the dolphins are comfortable including us in their natural habitat. At one point, there were 7 dolphins that swam all around me and were touching me on my sides.
Danielle: It was eye-opening how fast these animals could swim just at ease … without effort while I was kicking really hard through the water.
Jess: It was very exhilarating when the dolphins chose to swim directly to me and interact with me.
Liz: I was thankful that the dolphins came near us because they could have chosen to not interact with us.
Erin: I like how the calf was eager to interact with us but then Bailey or one of the younger females would swoop in and swim between him and us.
Kianna: I thought that it was really amazing that we got the experience to put the footage we’ve been analyzing into real-life and see the dolphins and their behavior with our own eyes.
Kendall: It was pretty breathtaking and interesting to feel like I was part of the dolphin pod.
Hannah: I thought it was unbelievable to witness their speed underwater. Being right next to them when they swam swiftly was amazing.
Sam: I thought it was exhaustingly magical.
Our afternoon was complete with a rejuvenating break that offered the option of a hot shower, and time to work on our reading or just ponder our dolphin swims. Of course, the afternoon’s rain, wind and wave action could not keep our spirits down!
Tomorrow begins with another data collection session, but before then we get to enjoy another yummy dinner!
Until tomorrow,
Kathleen, Justin and the URI MMPB team

Tagged under
URI group on beach
24 July 2019

Dolphins and Maya Cay!

We had a quick continental breakfast and then headed over to Bailey’s Cay to make dolphin observations. It was not raining, but the currents were still strong and the wind blowing and underwater visibility was not awesome. Kathleen did get in the water and collected about 5 minutes of video – before the current dictated that she exit … on the other side of the enclosure! We got to see quite a few bellies when the dolphins came over to say hi before Kathleen got in the water. Their curiosity was short-lived as they were into their own socializing.
After observations, we stayed on Bailey’s Cay having an informal discussion about personalities and contact behavior among dolphins. We also got a chance to briefly explore the cay before the trainers arrived and we participated in our first ever dolphin encounter. Seven of us (Hannah, Becky, Jess, Liz, Kianna, Chloe and Gabby) had an encounter with Maury. She was very boisterous and interactive. She fed off of our energy! The trainer let us ask her for a few vocalizations. We each received a hug and kiss and we did so in the strong current! We felt her weight in the hug! The remaining members of our group (Justin, Kendall, Erin, Danielle, Lauren and Sam) met Elli who was doing her own thing in a rather rebellious manner. She would periodically swim off and then return to us. She was fun when with us but we learned quite clearly that dolphins have their own mind!
Our dolphin swim was postponed because of the underwater current. So, we raced by taxi boat from Bailey’s Cay to the bus for a trek to Maya Cay on the south side of Roatan. Maya Cay is the third island in the trio of AKR.
We had a fantastic snorkel just off the cay and saw many of the fish presented in the Fish ID lecture last night. We saw disco fish, barracuda, a small school of squid, lionfish, and an eel. We saw sea fans, sponges and coral, too. The water was relatively warm and the wind was non-existent (we were on the leeward side of the island). After snorkeling, we were wet and chilly but lunch was great – the banana chips were beyond delicious. After lunch, we checked out the replica of the Mayan ruins. It was impressive and there were lots of steps.
We also enjoyed the rescued, rehabilitated animals offered forever homes on Maya Cay. They do a really good job offering enrichment and dynamic enclosures for the variety of animals – including a jaguar, puma, monkeys, etc. Jess, Becky and Kianna got the chance to meet a large male South American sea lion. His name was Ting. He gave great hugs and kisses.
We returned from Maya Cay for a much-needed shower to warm up and rinse off the salt water … and to take a power nap! After this respite, we met in the lobby and reviewed the footage collected this morning. It was interesting to see how the underwater visibility changed when Kathleen moved from one side of the enclosure to another. The audio on the MVA camera was decidedly better than the GoPro footage but both showed the dolphins interacting with each other and checking out Kathleen. With the array, you could hear the really good quality of the sounds. Our observations from the surface were augmented by the underwater footage – the latter gave us a much better understanding of how the dolphins were interacting with each other.
We wrapped up the evening (before dinner) with a presentation by Kathleen about DCP’s research at RIMS over the years as well as their other studies around the globe. Dinner was good, as always. The company was good and the local live band was very entertaining.
Until tomorrow,
Kathleen, Justin and the URI MMPB team

Tagged under
URI group
24 July 2019

Our Sun Dance Worked … until evening!

We met the dolphins this morning – all were very nice and we felt right at home! We could not tell if the squeaks and whistles were from the dolphins or us! Kathleen was not able to collect observations because the current was very strong as was the wind. But, she introduced us to the individual dolphins. We met Tilly, Dory, Bailey and her calf, Champ, Ronnie and Callie and Elli. Polly brought us seaweed to play with. Dory was swimming upside down waving her flippers at us! Unfortunately, we had to leave the dolphins and head up to breakfast, which was equally as exciting! (thanks CSU for the food head’s up!!) We were pleasantly informed about how good the meals would be.
Our next event was in the classroom where we observed video footage Kathleen filmed last week. It was interesting to see how much effort goes into every minute of video – from collection to analysis. We started learning how to recognize and identify the individual dolphins.
Lunch was followed by a pool session with the MVA. It was very light weight in the water as opposed to what it felt like on land. It was surprisingly difficult to view the subject being filmed and move the MVA around in the water. There was a lot more bumping into other students than we expected. Kianna thought it was really cool to try to orient ourselves in the water with the array as Kathleen would do when recording dolphins. Lauren was pleased to be entrusted with an expensive piece of equipment. Hannah thought it was interesting to learn what Kathleen does with the MVA – by practicing with the MVA, we got to be in her “fins” to see and feel and experience how she handles the MVA. Gabby appreciated practicing with the MVA after reading the paper last night.
After drying off, we practiced photo-ID from the video and began drawing the 2018 sketches for the dolphins. It’s a lot more involved than we originally thought and the 1.5 hours went by in the blink of an eye. The subtle nature of some of the rake marks and scars was surprising. It definitely got easier as the session moved on … we look forward to improving as the week goes by!
We attended the fish ID lecture and were very very impressed by Peter and his enthusiasm for recognizing fish. We enjoyed hearing the life history facts and stories about the fish we’ll see while snorkeling this week. We learned that fish have really cool behaviors too … not just terrestrial animals. In fact, after hearing this chat several of us even considered taking a fish biology class! We gained an appreciation for little fish and tiny invertebrates on the reef!
As we sit here, it is pouring – still, spirits are high despite the rain. It helps that dinner was delicious and was accompanied by a lively game of telephone and fun facts!
We hope the weather improves for our dolphin encounter and swim tomorrow morning, as well as our visit to Maya Cay.
Until tomorrow,
Kathleen, Justin and the URI MMPB team*

*The URI MMPB team includes: Becky, Jess, Liz, Kianna, Erin, Gabby, Danielle, Hannah, Lauren, Kendall, Chloe, Sam

P.S. we will finish the night with a sun dance … hoping to bring about sunshine and good weather tomorrow!

Tagged under
Bailey
24 July 2019

Transitions and Wind from a Northern Storm Front

At about 4:30 AM, it sounded like a freight train was speeding by our room(s)! The predicted northern storm front had arrived with a vengeance. Luckily (so far) this is a “dry” front … meaning lots and lots of strong wind but no rain. The last CSU data collection session this morning was cancelled because the winds would have made collecting surface observations very difficult and because the water current would likely have swept Kathleen away (almost)!
Still, the CSU group had a delicious, hearty breakfast followed by a chat about gender roles in science. Then, it was last minute packing and prep for departure.
During the first week with CSU, we collected about 3.5 hours of underwater video data with the dolphins, 14 sessions of fluke stroke per breath for the student project with Bill and Ritchie, and 6 test sessions of the innovate/create sessions with Han, Ritchie, Bill, French, Ronnie, Maury and Poli. We had a very productive week.
About 1.5 hours after the CSU team departed, the URI Animal and Vet. Science group arrived! They’d started the day REALLY early (~01:30 AM) to get to Roatan. Everyone arrived safely and all their bags did, too! These students are enrolled in Dr. R’s Marine Mammal Physiology and Behavior “J-term” (January term) course that includes the weeklong lab with DCP/me at AKR/RIMS on Roatan. They’ve spent the last two weeks with course work and will now apply what they learned to data collection and observations with on the dolphins here.
We had a good start (and these URI students concur with the CSU students’ view of the meals at AKR – Delicious!) and hope the wind dies a bit more so we can conduct our first morning session observing the dolphins tomorrow.
Until then, cheers!
Kathleen, Justin and the URI MMPB team!

Tagged under
Go Rams!
24 July 2019

Last Day in Paradise … with dolphins!

We had another sunny beautiful morning that was all quiet on the surface during our observation session. It could be said that it was “all quiet on the western front!” More often than not we were able to recognize the dolphins that swam by our observation stations. And, Bailey’s calf was being a dolphin and was swimming between several different other dolphins. Several of the dolphins had new rake marks, so they must have had fun last night! Several of the dolphins were throwing seaweed above the surface, almost like playing catch with each other.
After our early morning session, we had a delightful breakfast. And following our morning meal, the last two of us, Chandra and Macy, helped with the innovate/create study. The rest of us entered data, transcribed notes, enjoyed the hammocks and took a brief nap – the first fleeting “free hours” of our week. Our rest prepared us for our physiology lecture in a chilled classroom (who would have thought at the start of the week that we would welcome an air-conditioned room!).
During the physiology lecture, we learned it all comes down to energy and water. The importance of the shape of the dolphins was discussed such that we realized how it is advantageous to their success as fully aquatic mammals. Dolphins have 1/3 more blood than we do, also. Lunch followed our talk and we enjoyed pasta and burgers and yummy salads.
After lunch, we returned to Bailey’s Cay for our last session of data collection on fluke strokes per breath for Ritchie and Bill. The underwater visibility was back to excellent, which was good for counting fluke strokes. Ritchie was a bit distracted by what might have been going on in the main enclosure as he kept looking that way. We were able to collect 4 sessions with Ritchie and 3 with Bill. This brings our total sessions to 14: 7 per animal. The average strokes per minute over all sessions was fairly stable and also breaths per minute were quite consistent. We will look at the data more after back at CSU for our projects.
We wrapped up our day at Bailey’s Cay with a photo of us and the CSU study abroad flag and French and Ronnie! Denry helped us get the image (Thank you!).
We finished our day with some souvenir shopping and paddle-boarding and kayaking! Macy did yoga (cobra and down-dog) on the paddle-board while Lauren N. and Delaney finally made it to a standing position (with only 1 or 2 flops!).
We finished the day with a final delicious supper. Tomorrow, sadly, we return to Colorado taking many new memories, lessons learned, and new friends made with us.
Until next time,
Lauren (#1), Kenna, Caitlyn, Lauren (#2), Casey, Julia, Serena, Delaney, Cailey, Macy (like the store), and Chandra (the CSU crew) with supporting roles from Shane, Kathleen, Heather, Dee, & Maria

P.S. Have fun University of Rhode Island group – enjoy the food! We did!

Tagged under
night snorkel
24 July 2019

Not a Cloud in the Sky!

We were greeted by the sun this morning on our way to data observations. Our notebooks stayed dry during observations and we had to apply and reapply sunscreen, though we are not complaining. The surface observations were much less – the animals seemed to be less active at the surface and more interactive underwater. Some of the dolphins were a bit playful with seaweed to us. Kathleen was able to get a longer session as the dolphins were social and the underwater visibility was good. The calf kept getting corralled by other dolphins who seemed to want him around.
We also started our own research project and confirmed our methods. We had 5 sessions in the morning: 3 with Bill and 2 with Ritchie. We had 6 sessions in the afternoon (3 each with Bill and Ritchie). The afternoon underwater visibility decreased significantly … and it was also harder to see Bill or Ritchie because of the glare off the water surface.
After our delicious lunch, Teri B. gave us a really cool lecture about Dolphin Training. Her enthusiasm was contagious. We learned the importance of eye contact and timing when training, and that not everyone can be a trainer. We learned about operant conditioning versus classical conditioning. We learned about the relationships that can be and should be built with the dolphins. And, that if you work with them for a long time, you can read their behavior.
Jennifer spoke to us about Nighttime Adaptations on the Reef – before we did our first night snorkel. We learned that some fish change colors at night as compared to during the day. The best part was we could use what we learned right away during our night snorkel. We started the snorkel from a floating platform behind the dolphin area at Bailey’s Cay. We saw an eel, baby squid, an octopus, squirrel fish, blue tang, puffer fish, and parrot fish (lying on the sand for the night!). It was a little scary at first snorkeling at night but it was also super cool because of all the life we saw. The coral polyps were neat because they made the coral seem more alive as opposed to a rock-like item. We saw a brittle star and nudibranchs and crabs, too. On our way back from Bailey’s Cay on the taxi boat, Macy saw a shooting star in the bright and clear sky.
Dinner was after our snorkel and included a tasty tomato/basil soup.
Until tomorrow,
Lauren (#1), Kenna, Caitlyn, Lauren (#2), Casey, Julia, Serena, Delaney, Cailey, Macy (like the store), and Chandra (the CSU crew) with supporting roles from Shane, Kathleen, Heather, Dee, & Maria

Tagged under
Project Chat
24 July 2019

Dolphins, Sea Turtles, Sea Jellies, Fish and more …

Many of us woke to find that we slept through an earthquake last night, or did not feel it. After letting our families know we were alive and well, we headed to collect dolphin behavior observations. It was our first set of observations without rain. The dolphins were splashing and noisy at the surface. We had more success also in recognizing individual dolphins. We saw Ronnie, Lenca, Tilly, Carmella, French, Ritchie, Dory and Polly. Calli and the calf were also easy to ID this morning.
We did a brief break for breakfast (since food is a motivating factor this week), then went back to Bailey’s Cay to test out and decide on the methods for our project that focuses on respirations that might be associated with tail strokes. It was a struggle but every idea we had got us closer to what we might actually be able to do for collecting data on the last two days here. We’re excited to try our hand at data collection for our project tomorrow.
A few of us participated in data collection on the innovate/create study. Then, before lunch, we spent some time learning a bit more about confirming dolphin IDs from video and the video log process. Confirming the IDs is a lot harder than we all thought it would be – recognizing the individual dolphins is straightforward but confirming all their marks is not that easy.
After a hearty lunch, we listened to Jennifer in a lecture about sea turtles and their conservation. We learned about the Arribada for the 10 million eggs that are laid seasonally by between 75,000 and 100,000 sea turtles in Costa Rica. Then we went on our group’s first boat and drift snorkel on Butcher’s Reef. We saw a puffer fish, sea jellies, and a good-sized nurse shark. Serena saw a moray eel. Cailey saw a lion fish, too! Though there were no whitecaps, there was a 3 ft swell that felt a bit like a roller coaster.
Tonight’s dinner was a fiesta night on the cay – a BBQ picnic with delicious ribs and cheesy mac ‘n cheese! Oh yes, brownies for dessert! There was a hermit crab race and a limbo contest (woohoo Delaney!) and we also learned a bit about the culture of the islands with a presentation by Garifuna dancers.
This is our first clear night with a vivid view of the stars! We look forward to tomorrow and the potential for the sun to greet us on Bailey’s Cay!
Until tomorrow,
Lauren (#1), Kenna, Caitlyn, Lauren (#2), Casey, Julia, Serena, Delaney, Cailey, Macy (like the store), and Chandra (the CSU crew) with supporting roles from Shane, Kathleen, Heather, Dee, & Maria

Tagged under
Gracie
24 July 2019

Dolphin Swim – Where Did They Go?

We shifted the morning schedule having a continental breakfast before collecting data at Bailey’s Cay. This was because we had our dolphin swim this morning! We got to swim with the dolphins after meeting them during a beach encounter. Shane tried to let Kenna know she had 6 dolphins right next to her but she was just swimming forward looking for dolphins!
Baby dolphin! Baby dolphin! Bailey’s calf was all around us swimming but mom was none too pleased that he was curious about the split-fin humans! Cailey completely forgot to try to recognize or ID any of the dolphins when seeing them under water!
It was true that if they did not want to be seen, they were not. We heard their clicks plenty and their whistles but we’d turn around and not see any dolphin. Then at other times, they just appeared right next to one of us or below one of us.
In the gazebo, after data collection and before our encounter, we chatted about physiology and metabolism.
Of course, the highlight of our mid-day was lunch! We thoroughly enjoyed a hearty lunch after swimming against a current when observing the dolphins during our encounter and swims.
Our afternoon had Kenna, Julia and Serena helping with data collection for the innovate/create study and the rest of us observed the male dolphin subgroups in the back areas as comparison to the early morning surface observations.
The afternoon wrapped up with a classroom discussion on behavioral observations. We learned how behavioral observations should be conducted – for data collection, analyses and then internal and external validation applications.
All in all, it was a great day … punctuated by much rain, again. Supposedly the sun is planning to visit us tomorrow. Let’s hope so!
Until tomorrow,
Lauren (#1), Kenna, Caitlyn, Lauren (#2), Casey, Julia, Serena, Delaney, Cailey, Macy (like the store), and Chandra (the CSU crew) with supporting roles from Shane, Kathleen, Heather, Dee, & Maria

P.S. my apologies to Delaney’s mom for misspelling your daughter’s name on the first few entries.
P.S.S. we were not impacted by the earthquake earlier tonight. Thank you for your thoughts and concerns.

Tagged under
CSU group on snorkel boat to Maya Cay
24 July 2019

Don’t Touch the Reef!

We had a very wet data collection session, which yielded data sheets that were soaked through. But, we could recognize several of the individual dolphins. We could chat among ourselves to confirm some of the markings and so learned a few new dolphins by their scars and marks.
After breakfast, we spent time reviewing the video from Sunday morning. Caitlyn did not think they made that much noise when underwater but there was a lot of noise from them on the video. And, watching the video of dolphins it seemed to require more mobility than when Julia tried the MVA in the pool yesterday.
We visited Maya Cay today. We got to learn about the Mayan culture and toured the replica ruins with the inclusion of a real Mayan ball court. This court is an arena for a ball game played by ancient Mayans. The leader of the losing team of the game was often sacrificed to the gods.
We also got to tour the rescue zoo of confiscated, rescued, rehabilitated exotic animals; for example, there was a jaguar, a few mountain lions, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, capuchins, American crocodiles, numerous birds and a few reptiles. After observing the animals, we entered the food chain by taking our first coastal snorkel. The water temp was 79°F but it felt a tad chilly. Edwin was our snorkel guide and he showed us many colorful fish: barracuda, lobster, peacock angelfish, blue tangs, disco fish, indigo hamlets, groupers, brain coral and sea fans. Of course, snorkeling allowed our appetites to grow and lunch was welcome and delicious! A short post-prandial relaxation period (a nice little nap) followed lunch before we returned to AKR. The excursion of the snorkel session required a relaxing afternoon.
A belated Happy Birthday to Matthew (Heather’s now 16-year-old son) and an early Happy Birthday to Nate (Dee’s husband) and to Dixie, the mini seabeagle (6 years old tomorrow).
Tomorrow is our dolphin swim adventure. Let’s hope it is not raining!
Until then,
Lauren (#1), Kenna, Caitlyn, Lauren (#2), Casey, Julia, Serena, Delany, Cailey, Macy (like the store), and Chandra (the CSU crew) with supporting roles from Shane, Kathleen, Heather, Dee, & Maria

Tagged under
observing dolphins
24 July 2019

Dolphins and SUN!

The nighttime deluge of rain was with us through the first part of our morning observations. But, our wishes last night were eventually granted with the sun eventually peaking from behind the clouds. Of course, Initial introductions were overwhelming and crazy with the dolphins! There were a lot of dolphins with names and faces to learn at the same time. We sort of struggled with IDs on our first morning but we were really excited about trying our hand at recognizing each individual dolphin. Many of us were very focused on trying to keep our balance while walking on the dock around the enclosure to our watching spots. The Honduran breakfast was savory, salty, delicious and filling. After waiting 30 minutes, we ensured our snorkeling skills were proficient with a practice session in the pool. We each got to use the MVA to practice being a dolphin researcher. It was easy to swim with but not necessarily to record our fellow students underwater. Lunch was just as good as breakfast. We had our first lecture, shared with students from the University of MN, from Kathleen. We learned about the dolphins here at RIMS and a bit more about DCP’s dolphin studies overall. We then went back to Bailey’s Cay to watch a couple of training sessions with the dolphins and to get closer to several of the dolphins to see their markings up close. We could refer to this part of our day as “Dolphin Kisses and Lost Sunglasses!” Casey had tried to gift her sunglasses to King Neptune as an offering for sunshine tomorrow but the awesome trainers retrieved them for her. (Thanks!) We thought the dolphin “lips” (rostrum) would be softer and their stuck-out tongues were more mocking than anything else! The fish ID talk was informative and engaging. Dinner was scrumptious! We’ll dream of sunny, warm skies for tomorrow! Lauren (#1), Kenna, Caitlyn, Lauren (#2), Casey, Julia, Serena, Delany, Cailey, Macy (like the store), and Chandra (the CSU crew) with supporting roles from Shane, Kathleen, Heather, Dee, & Maria
Tagged under
wind and rain view
24 July 2019

Travel Challenges followed by Rain, Rain, Rain

We each had varied travel experiences to get to Roatan from the USA. The CSU students with their intrepid professor (Dr. K) arrived without incident, which was good since they began travel at about 02:30 AM. Dee, Heather and Maria each had uneventful trips from Miami and Houston, respectively. I, on the other hand, had a never-before experience: my first flight was delayed because the pilots got locked out of the cockpit. (Not sure where they left their keys!) I received the last standby seat on the next flight to Atlanta and made my connecting flight to Roatan. My checked bag, however, decided to stay a night in Atlanta. I’ve never been so glad to have the MVA as a carry-on!
We had a great first afternoon with a RIMS/AKR orientation from Jennifer, a delicious dinner and then a wrap up chat about the research, the MVA and the plans for tomorrow. We did the evening chat with the ambiance of rain, which is still falling. We hope it will clear in the morning as we will start observations at 6:45 AM.
Tomorrow’s post will be from the student team! Stay tuned!
Cheers
Kathleen with Heather, Dee, Marie and the CSU crew!

Tagged under
AKR aerial view
24 July 2019

Starting the New Year Right! Research and Field Work!

Tomorrow, January 6th, I will travel south to Roatan, specifically to Anthony’s Key Resort (AKR) for two weeks of data collection on the dolphins at the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences (RIMS). I’ll be joined by two groups of students for a week each. Our first week will also include a few colleagues for the continuation of the dolphin innovate/create study. (More on each of these topics in the next day or two.)
Personally, I’m very much looking forward to observing the dolphins and recording their social behavior and vocalizations. Each visit is like catching up with old friends (who also include the trainers and other folks at AKR/RIMS!). The added incentive for my strong desire to travel farther south today, in particular, is the REALLY cold weather we are having in Florida! It was 34°F (1°C) this morning!
For the next couple of weeks, stay tuned to regular (daily) updates on our research progress, the dolphins, and of course, the field course. Each group of students will help me write the field notes/blog update, beginning Sunday (Jan 7th) night. Here’s hoping we have warm, sunny weather, good underwater visibility, intricate social interactions (among the dolphins!), and lively, engaging discussion on a variety of topics with the students!
Cheers!
Kathleen

Tagged under
Rain, Wind, and More Rain – but still outside “Nate’s” cone
24 July 2019

Rain, Wind, and More Rain – but still outside “Nate’s” cone

The day was bright but very windy with rain squalls throughout the morning. Actually, it poured all night and we woke to a sort of tapering off of the rain. The underwater visibility did not look half bad when we took a reconnaissance trek to Bailey’s Key. (Hard to tell in this view since the rain is rather hard!) The morning had some very choppy water on the way to Bailey’s, though the afternoon showed a lessening of the wave height. That all said, the underwater current was quite strong and thus I did not get in to collect any underwater data today. We had a very productive week with more than 6 hours of video data collected! (double that amount actually with use of our GoPro and the AX100 in the MVA2).

We did go watch the dolphins from the surface several times today. And, we got a chance to chat with Eldon and Teri about our research and other projects. Everyone in our group was able to do some souvenir shopping, pack up gear and relax during the afternoon. We all got together for our last supper together, though trying to get everyone together for a group photo proved too much for the group! We only missed 3 folks in one image … but I was able to get several subgroup pictures to make a collage (eventually) of the whole group. I guess you could say we were mirroring dolphin society tonight with our “fission-fusion” activity! Thank you to everyone who joined me this week!

This was a great group and a very productive week! Thank you all for your enthusiasm and support! Tomorrow is our travel day home. Have a great weekend!

Cheers

Kathleen

Tagged under
Another Dolphin Swim and Two Data Collection Sessions!!
24 July 2019

Another Dolphin Swim and Two Data Collection Sessions!!

Though the weather has thrown another Hurricane in our path, we had a lovely day with some sunshine and lots of data collection – two sessions, one in the early morning (06:15 AM) and one in the late morning (10:00 AM). (Can you tell my brain is focused on data collection, not the weather!?) We were supposed to have more than a few rain showers but it seems that storm “Nate” will be sending some wind and rain by us tonight suggesting that Friday will be weather-full.

We had really good underwater visibility for both morning sessions and for the dolphin swim session sandwiched between them. Several of our DCP eco-tourists (Dee, Heather, Brittany, Erin, Riley and Regina) elected to do a second dolphin swim. Polly and Callie were waiting for me to enter on the second data session! Stan and Shawn played with Heather and Dee and Calli circle swam around everyone. Erin played with a seashell with Shawn – he kept bringing it back to her! There was lots of mother/calf swimming around the swimmers. Calli was very interested in Regina’s fins, which might contain a few rake marks! Gracie regularly checked on Shawn but she did not want to play. The dolphins were very playful and a grand time was had by all involved!

We also got a bit of time to meet with the training team to share some video with them and talk about our developing research program to study creativity in these dolphins. And, our afternoon was spent transcribing the half-dozen slates that were full of data to support the video collected. A good day indeed!

Tomorrow is our last full day here … and let’s hope we have good weather!

Cheers

Kathleen

Tagged under
Our Dolphin Encounter and Swim, Fiesta Night, and, of course, more data collected!
24 July 2019

Our Dolphin Encounter and Swim, Fiesta Night, and, of course, more data collected!

We have a diehard group of eco-tour participants dedicated to our research and data collection at 6:30 every morning but today was their day to enjoy an encounter and swim with the dolphins (after, of course, data collection was complete!). The encounter had members of our group sharing time with Gracie and Alita, two adult females. After a meet and greet, everyone spent ~30 min swimming with the dolphin group. The smiles on their human faces on water exit were a testament to the fun had by all. Games of seagrass toss and chase were engaged in. Everyone was still talking about their swim experience at Fiesta night, which also included delicious food (the mac & cheese did not disappoint!) as well as entertainment and prizes! We were a lucky group tonight – Butch won a 30-min massage from a grab bag. Regina’s hermit crab won the crab race. And Dee was crowned Limbo Queen!

Our day, as with each this week, began at 6:15 at the water taxi followed by a 50-min data collection session. The one-year-old calves were feisty and full of speed today. We watched Gracie wrestle with her calf, Shawn. Dory and Alita were together most of the observation session, except when Alita decided to use the seagrass bed as a loofa pad! She rubbed her entire belly in the bottom and then her face! You can see her here in a screen grab from the video record.

All in all, it was another great day of diving, camaraderie, and dolphin data collection! Several folks said the weather is predicted to shift to rain and wind tomorrow, and I am hoping it holds off a couple of days.

Until tomorrow,

Cheers

Kathleen

Tagged under
Data Collection and a Trip to Maya Key for our group
24 July 2019

Data Collection and a Trip to Maya Key for our group

We met at the water taxi stand at 6 AM for the short ride to Bailey’s Key. I was in the water by 6:15 AM and observing dolphins very soon thereafter! The underwater visibility was less than the previous days but the dolphins were just as social. Erin took this photo during her observations – it makes me wonder who is watching whom?! Calli, Polly and Elli decided that my fins were a delightful toy! How often have you pulled on someone’s feet or fins when they are swimming? :-)

At about 35 min into my observations, it got very quiet – noticeably quiet because the dolphins had been whistling and buzzing and were just plain loud. I learned from our surface observation team that there were at least 2 wild dolphins that swam into the channel just east of Bailey’s Key. They swam in, circled for a couple minutes and then swam back outside the reef. Ron said he thought there was a larger group out there. Calli, and two other dolphins were focused at the net listening.

Our morning session yielded about 40 min of video and included several minutes of Mrs. Beasley and Carmella! They have been on camera more this week than in the last few years. I think for Carmella it might be related to her two youngest offspring – Stan and Elli who are very social and inquisitive.

Our late morning was spent transcribing notes and copying footage to our hard drives. I was able to get back in for another 30 min observation session at noon. They underwater visibility had dropped off a bit, but that did not deter us from returning at 3 PM to film a couple of training sessions to confirm camera angles – both above and below the water surface – for a future study on dolphin innovation. John’s suggestion for top and bottom GoPros worked out very nicely!

Our day wrapped up with a quick swim in the swimming pool where several of our group shared details of their day to Maya Key and scuba dives. Everyone seemed to have a great day … and we did not turn into pumpkins when “Roatan Midnight” arrived – also known as 8 PM!

Tomorrow is another early start but hopefully will bring more neat behaviors to observe and discuss!

Cheers

Kathleen

Tagged under

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.

Join us on Facebook