Surface Observation Data Collection – 3.5 hrs of data collected for individual projects!

RIMS2010_Class_platformsWe woke to an odd sound … almost silence. The wind had died. The clouds were ever-present but not yet leaking. So, we conducted our first set of surface behavior observations of the four mother/calf pairs, and a few other dolphins.

Each student has to complete a small independent project with their literature review and so each is collecting data on a particular question.

Sarah: I am looking at individual differences in mother attentiveness to their calves during training sessions. I follow one mother/calf pair at a time for a given interval and record when the mom looks for her calf and then when she retrieves her calf. And, if the mom has to be requested to retrieve her calf by a trainer. We have noticed that there are individual differences in how moms watch or tend their calves.

Amanda: I watched whoever passed in front of me to see if they blew bubbles from their blowholes. I am curious to see whether calves bubble more than their adult counterparts. Gracie’s calf seemed to be experimenting with blowing bubbles all over the place.

Amber: I am looking at the frequency of vocalizations from adult females when they are with their calves versus when they are not with their calves. Some of the mothers were loud and vocal the entire observation session. Others were quiet when their calf was near and loud and vocal when the calf was not near.

Kristin: I am looking at who the youngest calves spend their time with. If not with their mother, then are they alone, or with another female or male and also how who they associate with relates to calf age. It seems opposite to what I’d expect because the youngest calf seems to be spending less time with mom than the other three calves!

Kathleen collected about 30 min of data after lunchtime and the current was REALLY STRONG: 30 min was enough to avoid exhaustion while still observing the dolphins. The underwater visibility was ABSOLUTELY GREAT!

The team got to witness the behavior of a different large mammal on land – animals with legs, hoofs and tails that swat. Yes, we went horseback riding! The horses each had unique behaviors and communicated with each other via ear movements and whinnying! Odd to watch and witness these behaviors from atop the horse’s back!

Tomorrow brings more data collection in the early morning.


Kathleen, Amanda, Amber, Kristin, Sarah

P.S. the photo shows the team during data collection observations this morning.