Our Data Collection Volunteers arrive today!

Two morning sessions followed by an assist to Alson (aka Latta) & Ken

Most of this season’s volunteer researchers arrived in the afternoon, so I took the morning to get about an hour of data. There was MUCH social activity – especially pectoral fin rubbing between Gracie and Mrs. Beasley and between Paya and Ritchie. This is more evidence that dolphins will select their rubbing partners – both among the wild dolphins and those in human care. I was able to record a few lengthy sequences of this pectoral fin rubbing. Very neat.
Paya is the senior adult male in the group. He and Hector (next oldest male) have been jousting, sort of. That is, they are more into fighting with each other these days than rubbing pec fins. Ritchie seems to be getting along with both of them and sliding into and out of rubbing sessions with each of the more senior males.
After my last session of morning data collection, John and I were watching some of the training sequences. Alson asked me to assist him in habituating Ken, a 2-year old male, to participating in a dolphin beach encounter. I am always game to be a guinea pig for practice. Basically, when the dolphins are being introduced to coming near the beach (about 1 m depth), they work with a trainer first. Then, one or more people are brought into the mix so the dolphins get used to the fact that soon 5-10 people will be meeting them when at the beach. Ken did very well and only swam away a few times. I did not take it personally though!
Ten volunteer research assistants joined us this afternoon: Nancy, Quintin, Sandra and Mathias have joined us in previous years. Tomorrow you will meet the rest of our team.