The Basics in Mermaids/Mermen

Our first data collection session was this morning and we got to participate in the first drone flight to ground truth the space use panoramic shots taken over the last few years with DCP field courses and ecotours. Before moving out to the platforms/palapa spots, we learned a bit about dolphin anatomy, seemingly from Primo, one of the cats of Bailey’s Key. (He’s a good, thoughtful lecturer … as long as he’s provided with treats!) We positioned ourselves around the platforms while John set up the drone and Kathleen prepared to enter for the first session. You can see from this photo that the some of the dolphins were surrounding Kathleen while others were social around the lagoon. And, you can see us taking panoramic photos near Platforms 1 and 2.

After a yummy breakfast, we had a classroom session to learn more about DCP, photo-identification generally, and then about these RIMS dolphins more specifically. Learning about dolphin activity levels followed lunch which was then followed by a snorkel session near Bailey’s Key where we practiced our mermaid/mermen aquatic skills. The fish ID lecture was preceded by some free time where we enjoyed a fresh water rinse in the pool and tested out the kayaks and paddleboards.

While waiting for the fish ID lecture to finish, Bill, Manon, John, Kathleen, and Shane took in a glimpse of the passing International Space Station over Anthony’s Key. Our day’s thoughts are below.

Sara – Collecting data this morning and attending lecture reminded me of why I’m truly on this trip instead of just being on an awesome vacation.

Paige – I liked playing mermaids when snorkeling.

Maeley – I had a fun time snorkeling and seeing all the different kinds of fish.

Olivia – I’m exciting to look at the pictures I took from snorkeling today.

Bella – Ronnie is my favorite dolphin.

Lauren – It was really fascinating to see how colorful the corals were and all different designs. One looked like a cactus to me and was pretty interesting.

Gabby – I really liked the fish ID lecture and learning about the fish we snorkeled with.

Daniel – It was exciting being able to wake up and see the dolphins right away in the morning.

Eli – I had fun meeting one of the workers whose team was promoted from third division to second division in soccer.

Madi – I learned a lot during morning data collection and got to ask a bunch cool questions.

Holly – I enjoyed kayaking and getting to know everyone better.

Nick – Lotta of fun, really cool collecting morning dolphin data with the team.

Traci – Although I didn’t see a yellowtail damsel fish, snorkeling and exploring the keys was a magical experience.

Manon – Awesome drone footage from this morning. Thank you, John and DCP Board members.

John – Made it through the first research flight of the pilot study without turning the drone into a submarine.

Bill – Four-minute international space station sighting before dinner!

Shane – Still no giant parrotfish but seeing the eagle ray made up for it.

While the students were enjoying the pool and paddle boards, Kathleen and Manon set up the second GoPro on the MVA4 so that it will look at who might be behind Kathleen. Thanks Diver MoJo Foundation … we’ll share pics from the first uses tomorrow.

Tomorrow will bring a full set of new perspectives when we use three underwater cameras and the drone images to observe the dolphins. Stay tuned!


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