RIMS 2013 Field Session Summary

My research trip to RIMS last week was very successful!
I was able to collect 6 hours of video – roughly one hour per day, collected in two sessions per day. There are 19 dolphins at Bailey’s Key for RIMS. On this trip, I met 7 new individuals born between summer 2011 and 2013. These 7 youngsters were very rambunctious and playful and quite curious about my MVA camera and me. Most juveniles are more inquisitive than older individuals of a social species, dolphins are no exception. It took a few sessions before these juvenile dolphins mostly would not continuously check me out; however, Polly (a 2 yr old female) decided I was her best buddy! She tried regularly to get me to interact with her. But, after a few sessions, her persistence waned (a bit) and I was able to become less interesting (at least I hope so!).

Nicole and I worked a bit on the sketches for all the dolphins to inform our processing of the video data for confirmation of ID and time on screen per dolphin. We’ll complete these sketches as we log the first tape of data early next week. Cedena, an older adult female, had the most change to her permanent marks with a new smaller notch in her dorsal fin. The calves have plenty of rake marks to make recognition available.
We also deployed the SM2M+ on Monday (10/28) and recovered it on Friday (11/1). With each entry for MVA data collection, I confirmed that the SM2M+ was recording data; i.e., the LED light at the tip of the hydrophone is red when recording and off (no color) when not. It was a relief to see the light was on and the cycle working. We recorded 10 minutes of every hour for a total of 4 hours of data collected during this deployment. I’ve uncompressed the audio files and will begin examining those sound files via spectrogram analysis later this week and next week. I quickly listened to a few tracks and know we collected data! From these data, we’ll get a glimpse at how vocal the dolphins are at night in comparison to daytime hours. Very exciting observations!
Once of the goals of this trip was also to collect some new video to update DCP’s research video. Our tentative plan is to have a short video ready and available for posting on the DCP web site by early December. I’ll be sure to make a blog entry here when the video is ready for folks who might want to see our research on the dolphins at RIMS. And, I’ll include a more detailed summary of the data in the next issue of the Dolphin Gazette, DCP’s quarterly newsletter, set to be published during the last week of November.

Thank you all for reading along with my entries and supporting DCP! I look forward to a return field research session to RIMS in 2014.