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Dolphin Communication Project
DCP on PBS/NOVA
DCP News
Written by Dolphin Communication Project   
Thursday, 03 April 2014 17:37

DCP's Bimini research will make an appearance in the third episode of the new PBS/NOVA series Inside Animal Minds, which airs on April 23rd. Kel, Kathleen, and Justin should all make an appearance, as well as a number of our adopt-a-wild-dolphins and the MVA. If you live in the US, be sure to watch the episode, and/or check out the whole series - it looks like it's going to be awesome! Here's a link to the learn more about the series. Or watch the trailer below: 

 
The Dolphin Gazette 18.1
DCP News
Written by Kelly Melillo Sweeting   
Wednesday, 05 March 2014 15:11

Yippee! Another issue of The Dolphin Gazette is here!

What will your favorite article be?

 

We're always excited to share each new issue of The Dolphin Gazette and this issue is no different! As Kathleen welcomes readers on page 1, you can know that information on our next RIMS eco-tour, our Bimini research season prep, a field course opportunity and Justin's upcoming appearance at the Hay Festival are all waiting for you. So, happy reading!

Click here to read The Dolphin Gazette 18.1. Don't forget to share with your friends!

 
Now Accepting Applications
DCP News
Written by Kelly Melillo Sweeting   
Sunday, 12 January 2014 18:34

BIM10_T50_internsWe are pleased to begin accepting applications for our 2014 summer internship program! This summer, 1-2 interns will be accepted to join DCP both at our Connecticut, USA office and at our Bimini, Bahamas field site. Applications are due 21 February 2014.

All the details can be found by clicking here. Please read carefully before contacting us with questions.

 
Happy New Year & Seminar Announcement!
Newsflashes
Written by Kathleen Dudzinski   
Monday, 06 January 2014 13:43

Happy New Year!

I'm delighted to share with you details of an exciting seminar scheduled for March 10-12, 2014! Hosted in collaboration with Zoo Atlanta, the seminar is titled "Cognition, Enrichment and Collaboration."

This seminar will explore animal cognition and enrichment techniques. Special sessions include the value of research as enrichment and the importance of collaboration between researchers and animal caretakers. The seminar includes lectures and research demonstrations. There will be invited national and international speakers as well as limited slots for participant’s presentations.

For more details and to sign up, check out the seminar web site at this link: http://www.animalconcepts.eu/styled-4/styled-12/styled/index.html
You can also contact Dr. Rebecca Singer at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it with questions.


Cheers!
Kathleen


 
DCP RIMS 2013 video!!
Roatan 2013
Written by Kathleen Dudzinski   
Monday, 23 December 2013 16:24

Just in time for the holiday! DCP is proud to share the RIMS 2013 DCP research video.

RIMS Video 2013 from John Anderson on Vimeo.

Thank you to DCP's Fund-A-Geek sponsors and our trip participants!

Your support made our 2013 trip to Roatan to continue DCP's study of the social interactions of the bottlenose dolphins who call RIMS home possible.

Happy Holidays!!

Cheers

Kathleen & The DCP Team

 
Ecotour 2014: Join us in Roatan, Honduras
DCP News
Written by Kelly Melillo Sweeting   
Monday, 09 December 2013 16:36

 

RoatanSunsetDCP will return to RIMS in Roatan, Honduras in October 2014, to continue our studies of the bottlenose dolphins residing near Bailey's Key.
When: 25 October - 1 November, 2014
Cost: $1,765 per person

 

Sign up before 12/31/13 with a 25% deposit and receive a $100 discount!

Click here for more details on this exciting program!

 
Dolphin Gazette 17.4
DCP News
Written by Kelly Melillo Sweeting   
Tuesday, 26 November 2013 18:38

Gazette174_smThe end of 2013 is upon us, and DCP brings you the latest dolphin research roundup with our final Dolphin Gazette of the year. You'll read all about our "Tootie," our newest adopt-a-wild-dolphin addition; Kathleen's adventures at the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences; Kel's Bimini field side roundup (and very special announcement); the Top 5 Most Endangered Dolphin Species; and much much more! So grab your (PDF) copy and get reading!

Click here to download your copy!

 
RIMS 2013 Field Session Summary
Roatan 2013
Written by Kathleen Dudzinski   
Wednesday, 06 November 2013 17:20

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!).

alt
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.

Cheers

Kathleen

 
Last Day of Data Collection
Roatan 2013
Written by Kathleen Dudzinski   
Saturday, 02 November 2013 03:23

Our last early morning began well, but was cut short because Polly and Ronnie decided my fins were just too tempting! I did not want to stay in and reward their playful behavior since I’d prefer the dolphins to ignore me. I am focused on recording dolphin-dolphin interactions, not inquisitive actions toward me. But, the second session was awesome! The younger dolphins were very playful and allowed to play for about 15 minutes until they got a bit over-excited. That’s when the moms took charge and corralled their youngsters into infant position for a collective time out. Or at least that’s what they looked like they were doing since the mom/calf pairs were all visible for about 5 minutes. Then the play resumed but at a lower level.

There was much vocal activity – lots of whistles and buzzing and a few squawks audible too. Champ was whistling often and had a bubble stream almost constantly.

Our group had a dolphin encounter and swim at 10:30; they interacted with Alita, who was a bit distracted by Lenca coming over to visit a few times. Their swim was fun and one of the dolphins brought over a dead lionfish as a treasure from the sea!

We recovered the SM2M from its recording post – thankfully the PAM recorder is positively buoyant and it came right to the surface once we removed the weights. Getting the 28 lbs of weight to the surface took a bit more effort!

We head home tomorrow – it’s been a wonderful week and far too long (at 2.5 yrs) since my last visit. I’ll look at the data on the SM2M card early this coming week and will post another summary field report once I assess the amount of data collected this week. Thank you again to all of our Fund-A-Geek sponsors for your donations to make this research trip possible.

Cheers

Kathleen & the DCP RIMS 2013 team

 
Happy Halloween!
Roatan 2013
Written by Kathleen Dudzinski   
Friday, 01 November 2013 00:02

Today was another great day of dolphin observations. I was in the water before 6:45 AM and was able to collect a full 30 min session. Ronnie and Polly were not as inquisitive of my limbs or wetsuit today as on previous days … a good thing since I want them to ignore me!

I had two sessions – the early morning entry and then one just before lunchtime. All 19 dolphins were available for filming in the morning but the four adult males were engaged in other programs (e.g., diving off the reef) for the second session. Thus, I observed the adult females and their calves. There was much rambunctious play among Champ, Tilly, Polly, Elli and Mac. On a seeming break from the play, I witnessed Mac nursing from Carmella!

Gracie came by to check out the camera a few times and she and Tilly (her young daughter) jawed at each other and swam a few speed swims. There was much whistling and buzzing vocals, heard even above the cacophony of snapping shrimp sounds!

I was delighted to be treated today, not tricked. Tomorrow is our last day of data collection. I’m planning for two sessions and we will recover the SM2M at about noon. I’ve checked the LED on the hydrophone at each entry and am pleased to report that it continues to be on when scheduled and off when not!

Until tomorrow … I wish all readers a happy Halloween!

Cheers

Kathleen & the DCP RIMS 2013 team

 
Dolphins, dolphins and more dolphins!
Roatan 2013
Written by Kathleen Dudzinski   
Thursday, 31 October 2013 15:04

Another great day of data collection and the sun decided to grace us with her presence! Of course, this meant the sunblock was in copious distribution! I was able to conduct two observation sessions today – one in the early morning and one in the afternoon. I was pleasantly surprised by decent underwater visibility for the afternoon session. Usually the silt is in large supply but today it was not too bad … the changing tide might have helped on that front.

The dolphins were mostly interacting with each other, and not inquisitive of me. The morning session had Ronnie checking out my fins more than I’d have liked, but I was able to focus on the dolphins not watching Ronnie to get some good data of their exchanged behaviors. I also was able to glimpse Carmella with Ellie, Alita with Lenca and Gracie with Tilly. These calves are between 1 – 2 years old, but it was cool to see them with their moms, as opposed to just playing with each other.

I make an effort to enter and exit the water from the same platform for each session. I turn the cameras on before I enter the water and turn them off just before I hand the camera up to someone on the platform, or slide it up there myself. The picture I am sharing is from the entry of a session today. The dolphins are sometimes not nearby and sometimes all over me and so I have to slip in between them!

alt

I’m hoping that tomorrow brings me more treats than tricks!

Cheers

Kathleen and the DCP RIMS 2013 team

 
Two sessions and a training assist!
Roatan 2013
Written by Kathleen Dudzinski   
Tuesday, 29 October 2013 23:36


My Tuesday morning data collection session was cut short because Ronnie decided it’d be fun to be pushy and swim circles around me. So, rather than reward such rambunctious actions, I removed myself and waited for a second session later in the morning! During the first entry and the second, I did check on the SM2M. It was right where we left it (hurray!) and while in the water I confirmed that the red LED light on the hydrophone tip went on when the recording was supposed to be happening. Phew!alt

The second session was preceded by Nicole and me being asked by Dante to act as guests for a training session with Champ – a 1.5 yr old dolphin. Dante needed to have a few people near him while he worked with Champ so Champ could get used to us. He was a champ (I could not resist!) and seemed quite at ease with Nicole and me near Dante.

The observation session went smoothly – no rough-housing toward me. A few juveniles thought it would be fun to swim tight circles around me a couple of times (causing me to get dizzy!) but they also played with each other. The youngsters include Calli, Tilly, Polly, Elli, Champ, Lenca and Mac. Nicole and I think we have finally committed their few scratches and scars to memory such that we can regularly recognize each of the individuals. They were quite vocal during the session – whistles, buzzes and clicks were recorded along with some twisty turns and fast swims. All in all, an hour of data was collected with the MVA2. John mounted a GoPro to the top the MVA2 so each entry has two video logs. The GoPro provides a wider frame of view but both allow documentation of the behavioral interactions among the dolphins.  alt

Tomorrow is another day that will begin with me in the water at 6:45 AM!

Cheers

Kathleen & the DCP RIMS 2013 team

 
SM2M Deployed!
Roatan 2013
Written by Kathleen Dudzinski   
Tuesday, 29 October 2013 02:10

This morning brought another early session. I collected about 30 minutes of data before 7:30 AM when our team was preparing to head out for an early morning dive. Hector and Han decided my fins were the best thing since sliced bread and nibbled on them. It’s a bit disconcerting to have to stop and elevate my feet into the air to get the dolphins to ignore me.

The afternoon brought a chance to deploy the Song Meter SM2M Marine, from Wildlife Acoustics (see photo). John, Nicole and Nate helped me with the deployment. John filmed from below while Nate and Nicole handed me the SM2M with the 24 pounds of weight for placement.

The SM2M will let us record dolphin sounds over each 24 hr period from today to Friday. We attached the passive acoustic recorder to a piling in the dolphin pool and watched as several of the younger animals and their moms swam by to check out the yellow tube! I think they were more interested in John’s bubbles from SCUBA, but a least one individual supervised my tightening of one strap to secure the recorder to the piling! We got quite a bit of data today and both Nicole and I (at least) are getting to know the scratches and other ID marks on the younger dolphins, as well as remembering the marks on the older individuals.

Tomorrow brings more data collection!

Cheers

Kathleen

 
Re-formatted MVA2 meets new Faces
Roatan 2013
Written by Kathleen Dudzinski   
Sunday, 27 October 2013 07:49

The sun rose at ~5:30 AM. I was excited to head over to see the dolphins but had to make sure the camera focus was set and the O-rings properly lubed. We met at the water taxi at 6:45 and I was in the water by 7 AM. Several dolphins hung close to the platform as I donned by fins and mask and turned the camera on. I slipped into the water into the center of a dolphin tribunal! I made sure there were no leaks into the housing and when I looked up, I was face-to-face with Paya! Apparently, I have no personal space where Paya or the younger dolphins are concerned. After a minute or two, the dolphins all were off to their own interactions. At about 10 minutes into the session, Hector and Han decided my fins were the best thing ever! They mouthed them and pulled at them and were just right at my feet continually, it seemed. Gracie brought Tilly over to meet me and Mika had Polly and Mac and swam by me a few times. The “new” young animals range in age from 3 months to about 1.5 yrs old. They were quite inquisitive and swam circles around me and at me, though we had no games of “chicken” today. I did see much pec fin rubbing and nudging one another.

I recorded almost 30 minutes before 7:30 AM and then went back at 9:30 for a second session. Hector, Han, Paya and Ronnie were engaged in other activities outside of the main pool area. So, I had the second session with only 15 dolphins – mostly the adult females and their offspring. It was a blast! The youngsters were quite inquisitive and swam very close to the camera – putting their face next to the front plate, buzzing me and checking everything out. I saw all of the adult females a few times: Cedeña has a new notch in her dorsal fin, but all her other marks are the same. There were numerous whistles and clicks and buzzes.

Before coming to RIMS, John and I updated the MVA2 with a different set of hydrophones and repositioned a camera into the housing. The latter required a new control knob. Everything worked great! And, the audio sounds awesome!

We’ll have more data collection sessions tomorrow and will also deploy the SM2M passive acoustic recorder tomorrow (made by www.wildlifeacoustics.com). We’ll leave the SM2M deployed for 4-5 days and record audio day and night to see if there is a pattern to the dolphin vocal behavior.

More tomorrow!

Cheers

Kathleen & the DCP RIMS 2013 team

 
We have arrived!!
Roatan 2013
Written by Kathleen Dudzinski   
Saturday, 26 October 2013 07:48

It felt like Nicole, Nate and I opened JFK airport having arrived at 03:45 to check in for our flight through Atlanta to Roatan. The time sped by, however, and we landed on Roatan at 11:15 AM (we’re on mountain time on Roatan) to weather warmth that has departed New England for the season. It turns out that Ron, Madison, Bill and Dana were on our flight also … the only late arrivals of our group were John and Bill S.  We are all settled on the NW corner of Anthony’s Key with a peripheral view of Bailey’s Key, and the dolphins, and a regular ocean concert of crashing waves.

Getting to Anthony’s Key Resort felt like coming home, especially since I’d not been able to visit last year for data collection. And, we were greeted with the news that there are 7 new dolphins to the group – new since my last visit 2.5 years ago (WOW!). Residing around Bailey’s Key are Hector, Han, Paya, Ronnie, Alita, Beasley, Carmella, Cedeña, Gracie, Maury, Mika, Bailey, Polly, Elli, Calli, Tilly (Yes, now we have a Tilly at RIMS and around Bimini!), Lenca, Champ and Mac. Later in the week I’ll identify who’s related to whom for the dolphins. We learned that French, Ritchie, Anthony and Bill are at a facility on the other side of Roatan. We spent an hour or so at Bailey’s Key watching the dolphins frolic at the surface, chasing one another and playing keep away with sea grass blades.  

I spoke with Eldon and will begin data collection early tomorrow morning – I plan two separate half-hour sessions to get the dolphins reacquainted with my gear (and me). Until tomorrow …

Cheers

Kathleen & the DCP RIMS 2013 team

 
Packed and ready to Go!
Roatan 2013
Written by Kathleen Dudzinski   
Thursday, 24 October 2013 19:53

The sprawl of gear and personal stuff is now orderly and neatly packed into three checked bags. The SM2M is safely inside a nice secure case on wheels. The MVA2 is in the orange “giant” case that either John or I use regularly and is fully padded for transit from CT to Roatan (I hope!). And, my fins, wetsuit, mask, snorkel and assorted clothing are all tucked into a small soft bag. Yes! I am more than ready to go, especially so since we had our first frost of the season last night. I woke to just above freezing temps! Burr!!!

I’ll share a bit about DCP’s history of study on the RIMS dolphins tomorrow, before beginning official travel south. And, then the fun begins with arrival to Roatan on Saturday late morning (cross your fingers for uneventful flights!).

Cheers

Kathleen

 
Only 4 days to go before Departure!
Roatan 2013
Written by Kathleen Dudzinski   
Tuesday, 22 October 2013 21:21

Only four days remain before I begin the trek to JFK and then to Roatan. I seem to have a knack for identifying flights that leave before the sun rises! I’ve reviewed the data sheets and made copies for the field work. We have surface logs for notating animals within various distances of the MVA from the surface viewpoint. We have blank sketch sheets for drawing the marks of the dolphins. We need to update our sketches annually to match with our video logs. This helps confirming the different IDs on the screen when we are back in the office reviewing and processing the video data. There are 20 plus dolphins to remember … easier than our wild groups, but still subtle with respect to marks.


My gear is lain out and being reviewed prior to being packed. I have the MVA2, the camera, the SM2M, my mask, fins, snorkel, wet suit, batteries, tapes, personal gear …

alt


Let’s see if I can get everything into two checked bags and 1-2 carry-ons!


Cheers

Kathleen

 
MVA2 Upgrades and Prep for RIMS trip!
Roatan 2013
Written by Kathleen Dudzinski   
Monday, 21 October 2013 19:22

Any free time last week and this week are dedicated to preparing for the last week of October to RIMS. My week at RIMS comes after a two-year hiatus! I am very much looking forward to visiting RIMS and seeing the dolphins again. To see how much the calves have grown and see who’s hanging out with whom.

Last week was filled with re-formatting the MVA2 for a tape-camera that John and I found on eBay. I was having issues with a tape-less camera. We found an HDR camera and it just barely fit into MVA2. John spent a bit of time and set a new control into the back plate that will turn the camera on and off and connect with the record/standby button. So, we are set with camera control. The hydrophones needed to be replaced as the older pair (15 years old) had grounding problems that added quite a bit of noise to the recordings. We had a past-pair that work well, even though they require power. And, John found a neat option for the hydrophone arms – “locline” links. These replace the aluminum set arms that I love but are extremely difficult to travel with … if the locline arms work, then they will shift from a temporary fix to a permanent fix for the hydrophone displacement. I.e., to keep the hydrophone boxes at their minimum scaled distance apart (4.5 times the distance between my ears!).

I include a few photos so you can see some of these upgrades to MVA2.

MVA2 near done MVA2 new wiring MVA2 arms

This week includes review of the data sheets to make sure I have enough copies. I’ll also print out some of the papers we’ve had published since my last trip. And, the gear is being laid out in my library so I can make sure I do not forget anything. I’m shooting for two checked bags … I’ll let you know on Thursday if I meet my goal!

Thank you to our Fund-A-Geek sponsors for helping to make this trip possible!

Cheers

Kathleen

 
Now Accepting Applications!
DCP News
Written by Kelly Melillo Sweeting   
Wednesday, 11 September 2013 15:19

Join Sacred Heart University (SHU) in Bimini, The Bahamas for a 12-night field course in cetacean ecology!SHU2014Flyer

This course was a huge success last year and we look forward to another success in 2014. The course begins with an online component, with Professor Deirdre Yeater, on 19 May 2014. By 27 May all students will arrive in Bimini, for classroom time and fieldwork! With 8 boat trips in search of Bimini’s wild dolphins, students will experience many facets of wild dolphin research.

All participants must take this course for credit through SHU, however visiting students are encouraged to apply. For more information click here, then contact us for more details!

 
The Dolphin Gazette, 17.3
DCP News
Written by Kelly Melillo Sweeting   
Tuesday, 27 August 2013 14:00

dolphingazettte_v17no3We're proud to announce the latest overflowing issue of our quarterly newsletter, The Dolphin Gazette. In this issue, Kathleen shares updates from her recent trip to Europe and we continue our push to achieve our FundAGeek goal. Justin is busy preparing for the second installment in his collaborative Apes and Dolphins Seminar Series. For those of you interested in our Bimini, Bahamas field site, we hope you enjoy updates not only from Kel, but also from our summer interns. All that isn't enough for you? Fear not - there are even more updates, and a fun crossword puzzle, inside! Thanks for reading and passing this issue along to your friends!

Click here for a PDF of The Dolphin Gazette Issue 17.3

 
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