A short session – really low visibility and agitated dolphins

RIMS2010_WuJungA cloudless day greeted us Friday as we took the taxi boat to Bailey’s Key. We were set for another hour session, but the dolphins had other plans. They were into their own social games with the males chasing each other around. There was lots of leaping above the surface and buzzes heard below. French, Ken and Ronnie were all quite pushy and mouthy on my fins. There are days (like today) when I believe the dolphins have absolutely no concept of personal space! It is really hard to conduct a behavioral analysis of the side of a dolphin’s body or a single eyeball in the lens.  

The underwater visibility also contributed to our shortened session because it was very silty and the light was low. So, I ended the session at about 16 minutes. No need to push the observation session if the dolphins are either too far to be seen in low visibility conditions, or are too close to confirm ID because their body fills the frame! We were able to record with the DTag for those 16 minutes and Wu-Jung has more data to analyze during the chilly winter months.  

Wu-Jung was also able to record data for about an hour of the ambient sounds and dolphin clicks with two omni-directional hydrophones from the dock area. The hydrophone was outside the netting so the dolphins could not play tug-of-war with it. The click calls are quite interesting and the ambient noise is very low here; hardly any snapping shrimp were heard, much less recorded. In the above photo, while recording echolocation, Wu-Jung confers with dolphin as Casey watches.

Tomorrow is our last day with Wu-Jung and Penn. We’ll have a last ~40 min data collection session and then begin to dry and pack gear for the end of this year’s data collection session.