Check out the latest news from DCP, including field reports filed by our researchers busy doing science at one of our many research sites.

Close Encounters of the Dolphin Kind!
07 Jan 2017

Close Encounters of the Dolphin Kind!

Surface observations – our final day – it was pretty busy at the surface but much less aerial activity by the dolphins. Lots of pectoral fin slapping (a new action seen) and tail slaps and white water were observed. And the other new behavior was “head stands” – the dolphins sticking their tail straight up at the surface. There were several subgroups that were larger in number of dolphins than previously seen. The calves were there also in the middle of these groups! There are also what we called “science kitties” on Bailey’s Key. The cats on the island were very inquisitive of the MVA2 after it was rinsed this morning. They licked the port and the hydrophones! Breakfast was…

Come to Bimini!!

Looking for an exciting, hands-on spring course? The Dolphin Communication Project (DCP) is pleased to offer a FIELD COURSE IN COASTAL MARINE SPECIES in Bimini, The Bahamas. DCP, a non-profit research and education group, has been studying the wild Atlantic spotted and bottlenose dolphins off Bimini since 2001. Dates: April 24 – May 4, 2017 (10 nights) With instruction from DCP’s Kelly Melillo Sweeting, and Dr. Stephen Turnbull, of University of New Brunswick Saint John, students will be introduced to the study of animal biology and behavior using a combination of lectures, readings, discussion, and observational research within the natural ecosystem of Bimini. Content will focus on a foundation of species’ biology as it relates to understanding animal behavior and…
Sun, Sand, and Marine Debris …
06 Jan 2017

Sun, Sand, and Marine Debris …

We started our day the usual way … with data collection and observations of the dolphins at Bailey’s Key! There was LOTS of aerial activity and much social surface behavior (lots of white water and splashing and dolphin body bits at the surface). It was fun to see so much different behavior above the water surface. That is, today was day 5 of our observations but we had so much activity and it was great to have so many observers to be sure we recorded as much as possible of all the activity, including porpoising, leaping, breaching, tail slaps (side ways), and some very long horizontal leaps. Gracie did a side breach near the side of the dock. There was…
Finding Dory … Shawn and Stan, too
05 Jan 2017

Finding Dory … Shawn and Stan, too

Again, the underwater visibility sucked … more, much more than yesterday. In fact, it was less than 2 m and very silty. So Kathleen’s observations with the MVA2 were limited to about 7 or 8 minutes. It’s quite difficult to conduct behavioral observation when you can’t really see all of each dolphin’s body in the viewfinder. We also started our personal interviews with John today about this field course. And, we had a morning snorkel session from the boat at West End beach and point and also finished at Blue Channel. The underwater visibility was much better just outside the inner reef! We saw a small shoal of squid, some parrotfish, blue tang and a disco fish. We had to…
Daytime is the array time, Night time is the right time!
04 Jan 2017

Daytime is the array time, Night time is the right time!

The underwater visibility sucked mostly – dolphin observations because of silty waters. It’s hard to study behavior when you can’t really see it. So, Kathleen retrieved the SM2M, which was still recording! Yeah!! The red light was on and the unit was not too caked with sea crud. We thought it would have more sea life growth on it. The SM2M seemed more non-descript and was bigger and heavier than we imagined (see photo of us with the SM2M after recovery). Our morning discussion was on behavioral observations and sampling protocols. We learned that a research question must have appropriate methods in order to yield results that are interpretable and also to facilitate appropriate statistical analyses. Our discussion also will…
Just Another Day in Paradise!
03 Jan 2017

Just Another Day in Paradise!

Our day began with two cups of coffee and a boat taxi ride to Bailey’s Key. And, once again, the dolphins were right there! We began the day with more dolphin behavior observations, noting a bit more detail than yesterday. It was a bit easier to ID some of the dolphins – Polly, Hector, Han, Paya, and Gracie were all readily visible to us this AM! The dolphins were frisky this morning – there was lots of splashing and socializing ongoing this AM providing lots for us to document and note. After our delicious breakfast, we had an informative physiology talk/discussion. We learned that respiration rates don’t cut it to estimate metabolic rates and that you cannot take inaccurate measurements…
The Beginning – our first full day in the course
02 Jan 2017

The Beginning – our first full day in the course

We had our first introduction to the dolphins after our boat taxi ride to Bailey’s Cay. The ride was full of anticipation and culminated with Kelly’s reaction, “oh! They’re right there!” They were so close and within reach, not behind 6 inches of glass! There did not seem like there could be 23 dolphins in the enclosure … maybe 12, but then we got to see the different dorsal fins. They swam close to our positions and checked us out. It was definitely hard not to interact with them more. We spent a few hours after data collection on photo-ID learning about their different scars and marks. We also discussed the different behaviors we saw on the first research dive…
Wrapping Up 2016 and Ringing In 2017!!
31 Dec 2016

Wrapping Up 2016 and Ringing In 2017!!

Happy New Year’s Eve!DCP/Kathleen is finishing out 2016 in and welcoming 2017 in research style … with a week of data collection and a college field course on Roatan at Anthony’s Key Resort! And, thanks to John, the MVA2 has new hydrophone arms that allow for the MVA2 to be in carry-on luggage (small black bag on left)! The arms are back to the original design and made of PVC - the green my added touch! I’ll be sure to post a photo of the MVA2 all assembled in a day or two so you can see the full effect of the new arms. Today is travel day! I’m writing this post as I sit in the airport waiting for…

IRSC Semi-Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium

On Friday, Kathleen was back on the Indian River State College campus, this time to attend the IRSC Semi-Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium. Kathleen was supporting Ashley Locher, who participated in the Service Learning program between IRSC and DCP in May and June 2016, and continued through the summer and early fall to develop a presentation from her experience for the program at IRSC. Ashley’s poster presentation title was: Comparative studies on pectoral fin contact behaviors between wild and captive dolphin species. Ashley stood by her poster during the three-hour program and skillfully answered questions from members of the audience about the research and results. Ashley graduates this fall with her degree from ISRC. Congratulations to Ashley for a well-done presentation…

Join SHU in Bimini this June!!

We are eager to once again welcome Dr. Deirdre Yeater to our Bimini, The Bahamas field site for our collaborative course in dolphin behavior and research. Applications are now being accepted on a rolling basis. That means first come, first serve!! With an additional online component, students will participate in field research from 4 June - 10 June, 2017. All participants must register through SHU. Click here for more details and apply today!

The Dolphin Gazette 20.4

Field updates, holiday specials & more! The latest issue of the Dolphin Gazette is now available! The fall issue of The Dolphin Gazette is always a fun one to write. Kathleen has returned from Roatan, holiday specials are in the air and collaborators share news! This issue is no exception. We hope you enjoy reading about upcoming field opportunities, our t-shirt fundraiser, holiday bundles, new papers....and, we hope you'll pass the Gazette on to a friend! Click here to download a PDF of the gazette!
DCP RIMS October 2016 Field Reports – Summary
31 Oct 2016

DCP RIMS October 2016 Field Reports – Summary

Before I wrap up the week, I thought I'd share a photo of the SM2M deployment ... though this image is from 2-3 years ago! When I deployed the SM2M yesterday, the underwater visibility was such that at 24 ft deep, I could not see details of the surface, and vice versa. So, no photos were taken during yesterday's deployment! We had a good week this year! Our group got in lots of dives and much bottom time. And, I was able to collect 3 hours of data with the MVA2 and a similar amount on the front-facing GoPro. The GoPro gives us a wider field of view such that we can confirm IDs and some of the behavioral exchanges.…
TGIF? Last Day for Data Collection!
31 Oct 2016

TGIF? Last Day for Data Collection!

The rainy season seems to have arrived to Roatan! Another rain-filled evening dawned to overcast skies and elevated wind speeds! The current was also quite strong! We made the trek over to Bailey's Key with the hope of collecting data with the MVA2. The dolphins were social and seemingly game! I was game, my crew was certainly willing to make surface observations. Mother Nature (or is it Father Neptune?!) had other ideas! The underwater visibility, even viewed from above water, was not good! The current was again strong and a squall was on the horizon. So, we decided to wait an hour or two ... maybe the visibility would improve? It did not. But, our group had a dolphin encounter…
Dodging Rain Drops ... at least for the research!
27 Oct 2016

Dodging Rain Drops ... at least for the research!

Rain greeted us just before sunrise ... leading to a delayed research data collection session. I entered the water at about 7:40 this AM and had a good 30 min session observing the dolphins. The calves were receiving much attention from almost all of the dolphins. Of course, Mac, Lenca and Champ still thought my fins were the best toy available! I was able to record Gracie and Alita on several occasions and we confirmed which calf went with each mom on viewing the video this afternoon. The dolphins were quite vocal and very social with one another. The underwater visibility was so-so but there was decent light and a visitation by the sun when I was in the water.…
Let the Sun Shine In!
27 Oct 2016

Let the Sun Shine In!

We finally had a break in the rain! It poured all last night! There was some thunder and wind thrown in and we woke to a gloomy looking sky and drizzles. But, the morning dried a bit and some blue sky showed through … enough so that we could collect data at about 12:30 for about 30 – 35 minutes! The visibility was ok in some spots and “silty” in others. Still, we saw several dolphins interacting, as you can see in this image from today of several dolphins circling in front of me and the MVA2! At late morning, I and several of our crew (John, Chris K, GiGi, Chris R, Dave, Erin, Aly) met with the training staff…

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Dolphin Communication Project
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