Settling in on Mikura

Unpacking Gear and Assembling my Array

Yesterday was a long day. The ferry ride between Miyake and Mikura was about 50 minutes with about two-meter swells and wind and rain. It was raining harder at Mikura when we arrived. It is chilly – I have been wearing sweats and a sweatshirt – about 19°C. I am sharing work space (and cooking facilities) with Kogi-san (nicknamed Manpu). He is a student of my host (Yoshioka-sensei) here in Japan. Manpu will be studying the interaction between boats and the dolphins around Mikura Island for his Ph.D., but he is also interested in dolphin behavior in general. Yesterday afternoon, we discussed the possibility of role playing in these dolphins. That is, it seems that certain dolphins have a particular job during social interactions. It is possible that some young males may act as sentries to keep outsiders away from a socializing group. We have both observed a single or two dolphin(s) swim in a zigzag fashion between us and the rest of the dolphin group before joining them. Could they be indicating that we not follow? Could they play this role with other animal species (like sharks or other dolphins)? We need more observations, more data to begin to understand that this behavior has a specific function and is not simply a subadult lagging behind the others to play a bit longer with the split-finned, funny looking 'fish'. The weather will keep us in port today. So, I have time to finish assembling my array and sort out my gear for a possible trip tomorrow. 'dewa mata' (see you later in Japanese) Kathleen