Another day inside, but some serious data analysis today!
IMAGE An enchanting photograph depicting the glory of data processing
Yet another day without a boat trip – it is becoming a bad habit at this point. So I took it upon myself to do some serious data processing. There is a side to dolphin research that is far from glamorous. In fact, it is so distinctly unglamorous as to make you think that studying dolphins is tedious. *Gasp* Tedious you say? In case anyone reading these little reports of mine is under the illusion that being in the field is all about standing on the deck of a boat in glorious sunshine bellowing “Dolphin Ho!” every now and then between verses of Cheeseburger in Paradise being sung by the crew, please allow me to burst your bubble. For every minute of video footage collected underwater, I spend at least 10 times that going frame by frame through the video IDing dolphins, describing behavior etc. for the video log. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. Analyzing the data for a specific research questions requires an even more detailed look at the data. Combine this with the hours of time spent writing up the data, writing research grants, reading background literature, etc. and you are rapidly descending into the bowels of “Hard Work”. There is of course the inescapable fact that part of my job is swimming with dolphins – an absolutely fantastic thing to be doing, but that is really only a small part of what I do. The rest I am afraid to say is not nearly as much fun, but it can be very satisfying in its own right. The chance that we might discover something previously unknown about dolphin communication and dolphin behavior is what drives us to spend 8 hours a day staring at a video screen with a spreadsheet in hand.