Wednesday’s morning session brought 30 minutes of video of socially active dolphins. Maury and Bill were observed together often with Mika’s calf hanging close to Maury and sometimes positioning himself between Maury and Bill. It was the least active I have seen Maury in several mornings – she just seemed content to swim next to Bill. Hector, Han and Anthony, on the other hand, were a bit more rambunctious and were rolling all over each other. Mrs. B and Cedena kept their calves close as usual. It was a good session.
The afternoon brought us a short boat ride out to the area where the dolphins dive with scuba divers. Eldon and Teri and Kenly were working with Paya and Ronnie on their open water work. Ronnie is easily enticed by passing boats and the lure of the bow wave, but he avoided temptation today and the jaunt was fun … except for the birds dive bombing them for fish! The data collection session right after this boat ride was special in that the MVA had an extra set of ears attached.
Wu-Jung is a doctoral student with the MIT/WHOI joint program and is here this week to begin preliminary work into studying how dolphins use their echolocation for prey (or target) discrimination behavior. The DTag was developed by the WHOI team and has been used quite extensively to study foraging beaked and sperm whales. The tag has not been used in a more controlled situation with captive bottlenose dolphins. Wu-Jung joined DCP’s program this week to coordinate with RIMS about conducting a study with these dolphins to collect data with a DTag. Over several months, several dolphins will be habituated to wearing the DTag and then be ready to answer questions while wearing the tag that records their echolocation and the resulting target echoes.
We decided to attach the DTag to the MVA housing to record dolphin clicks while also recording their behavior with the MVA. These data will give Wu-Jung information about the intensity level of the clicks so that she can calibrate the recording equipment when we return for extensive data collection with the DTag that the dolphins will wear. We decided that some photos would do a better job than a lot of prose in telling the story about our DTag/MVA romance (so to speak) this afternoon. The first photo shows the MVA with the DTag as invited remora! The second is Kathleen preparing for entry while the dolphins and gear wait patiently. The third photo is just after Kathleen slipped into the water and the dolphins examined her … silently! During the session, the dolphins all investigated the MVA and Kathleen (fourth picture)…and much echolocation data were collected.
We plan to collect more data with both tomorrow morning.
Kathleen, Wu-Jung & Penn