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

Our heads are spinning from all the dolphins!

Sunday was another beautiful day on Bimini. Kel and Nicole had planned to have a morning meeting but it was rescheduled so instead, they took care of some other island business (we can’t resist trying to help The Stray Dogs of Bimini!). By 1500 Nicole was ready to head out with the Hunter/Manhattan College group once again. Only 15 minutes into the trip, Dr. Kaplan's wish was granted--we spotted three bottlenose dolphins, including one older calf, and they were crater feeding! We observed this group from the boat for a bit, collecting surface photos of their dorsal fins. Then the student teams were able to take turns doing underwater observations as Dr. K and Dr. M recorded video and acoustics.…

A bottlenose, some spotteds and a beautiful sunset!

Saturday morning found DCP researchers in the office and most of the students exploring the mangroves. At 1500, Nicole and the university group set off on their dolphin search. The ocean was as calm and flat as a lake! It was so flat that it made it much easier to spot the lone bottlenose dolphin that crossed our path less than 20 minutes into our ride. We observed this dolphin from the boat for a few minutes before continuing on our way. For this trip, Dr. Kaplan brought along the coordinates for a spot she had visited 6 years ago. What's so special about this spot? Well, it's over 3 miles from land but there were 2 golf carts on…

Third Time's the Charm

Thursday was a day off the boat for DCP. We used the day to catch up on some data processing and to prepare for some upcoming projects. Friday began with more office work. At 1500 both of us got to join Bimini Adventures' Hunter/Manhattan Colleges group again! It was clear from the beginning that our ride would be much easier--the wind was almost nonexistent! With this in mind, we had high hopes for our dolphin sightings. Sure enough, within the first hour of searching we came across a group of 6 bottlenose dolphins, including one calf and at least one known individual. From the boat we could tell these dolphins were not feeding, which is usually the behavior that indicates…

Déjà vu

Well, on Wednesday Nicole and Kel were both able to join Bimini Adventures’ boat trip, and everyone was hopeful we there would calmer seas and more dolphins. The day started out strong, with a large school of spotted eagle rays not far from the harbor entrance. Everyone got a good look at these graceful critters from the boat. We then continued on and the students were able to snorkel at “3 Sisters,” with the biggest sister nicely tucked in the lee of the Bimini. With optimism we then headed beyond the island, but the seas continued to be rough. The good thing is that the students are all getting used to the wavy conditions! The bad news is that although…

Better luck next time!

Tuesday was a rather uneventful day for us on Bimini. We started the day with the usual office work--writing Monday's field report, photo ID and other such tasks. By 1500 we were ready to climb aboard the boat to head out with Dr. Kaplan, Dr. M and their students once more. Unfortunately, the wind still had not let up and as we got further into our usual route the ride became rougher and rougher. This being the group's third day on the water the students seemed to have gotten used to the bumping and jostling. But we simply couldn’t find any dolphins amongst the waves. Despite hours and hours of searching, broken up by a nice swim break, we did…

The wind can't keep us from finding dolphins!

Monday morning began with a visit to the students for a class on photo identification. Kel presented an in-depth lecture about the methods and uses of photo ID in marine mammal research. This was followed up by hands-on practice so the students could develop their skills using images of some of the Bimini spotted dolphins they will be encountering this week. It was great to watch how quickly they caught on to the intricacies of the task. With the hopes that the day would be less windy than Sunday, we left the dock just after 1500. It soon became clear that, though calmer than yesterday, it would still be a rough ride. So we began our search. And we searched.…

Wind + dolphins makes for a good day!

We are happy to welcome Dr. Daisy Kaplan back to Bimini! This time, she is accompanied by Dr. M and students from Hunter College and Manhattan College. Just after lunch, Kel visiting the group and gave a crash course in still photograph for photo-ID. The students seemed eager to collect useful photographs for DCP! With a warning that the conditions would be windy, we departed the Sea Crest shortly after 1500. We didn’t wait long to give the students their “gear check” swim – the chance to practice getting on and off the boat and to test their masks, fins and snorkels. The group did a great job, especially considering the challenging conditions. We then resumed the search for dolphins,…

Let me tell you something…

Wednesday and Thursday were land-based days for me, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t all about dolphins. On Wednesday I had the pleasure of meeting with the Bimini Adventures group for a casual discussion on DCP, dolphins and my specific observations here off Bimini. The group had fantastic questions; chatting with tourists always re-energizes me for more data collection and analysis! Plus, the group was immensely supportive of DCP – thank you! Thursday began with a younger crowd: the first group of students from Chicago City Day School was aboard the Shedd Aquarium’s Coral Reef II. I have the honor of meeting with CCDS students every summer and as usual, the group impressed me with their knowledge, interest and thoughtful…

Rain. Or, not.

Tuesday was my second chance to join this week’s Bimini Adventures group. Our departure was delayed due to a strange squall that was developing immediately to the east. The rain was forming before our very eyes, yet the squall wasn’t actually moving! Eventually we decided we needed to risk the wet weather and get away from the dock. Though we had a late start, the dolphins appeared very early in the trip, yet again! The first dolphin group we sighted was somewhere between six and ten individuals; they were so scattered it was hard to get a firm group count. But, in the mix were Paul (#99), two other juveniles, an older calf/young juvenile and several adults. With a frigate…

Familiar Faces (and Spots!)

On Monday, I was able to get back on the water in search of dolphins, after a few weeks on land. It had rained on and off all morning, but despite the still overcast skies, the seas were very calm. Immediately out of the harbor we saw a turtle swimming just below the surface and everyone was optimistic it would be a great first day. Because it was the first day, a “gear check” was planned for about 30 minutes into the trip. This gives Bimini Adventures’ guests a chance to test their snorkel gear, practice getting on and off the boat, and get a feel for open ocean swimming. Today, however, the dolphins had other plans! Before the crew…

Back aboard the Coral Reef II

This is a (very!) belated post from late July. Apologies for the delay! --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- It’s been a land-based week or so here in Bimini. Nicole wrapped up her first 2016 session and headed back up north, while I remain in Bimini to hold down the figurative research fort. In between day-to-day DCP responsibilities, I’m working to incorporate Nicole’s photo-ID efforts into our Bimini catalog so we have a more up-to-date catalog to reference going forward. And today (Thursday) I was able to join the second session of Shedd Aquarium’s High School Marine Biology program aboard the Coral Reef II. This group has been handling weather challenges like champs and I was thrilled to make it to and from the vessel…
Peru Update July 29, 2016
02 Aug 2016

Peru Update July 29, 2016

I spent the week of July 16-23 on board the riverboat, La Estrella. This ship is operated by International Expeditions, an eco-tour travel agency. During this week, I had the opportunity to spend a morning recording dolphins in the Pacaya-Samiria Reserve. The conditions in the Ucayali River are optimal for recording dolphins. To record the dolphins, we navigate a small motor boat about 200 meters past the animals, up-stream. We turn the motor off and drift with the current past the dolphins while recording. The Ucayali River is generally 7 meters or less in depth, and not more than 50 meters wide. The current is slow and the dolphins seem to favor this area. After doing one to two passes…

A Magical Adventure

Sunday morning was less eventful for DCP than Saturday had been. Kel and Nicole spent the day in the office working on photo ID and other data processing. At 1500, Nicole set off on the boat with Captain Al and his two guests. This time, the pair wanted to stop at "Bimini Road", or the road to Atlantis, for some snorkeling. They loved the spot as much as they did "Three Sisters" on Saturday. After enjoying the sights for a bit, they climbed back on the boat. Given the amazing and unbeatable dolphin encounter we had the day before, Captain Al decided that we should head towards another, less-visited snorkeling spot instead of spending the entire day searching for dolphins.…
Marie’s early July update from along the Amazon!
11 Jul 2016

Marie’s early July update from along the Amazon!

Marie’s letter below is in the first person. We include some of her photos, too. Happy Reading! ********** I did a presentation at the Instituto de Investigaciones de la Amazonía Peruana (http://www.iiap.org.pe/). The lead photo shows me after my presentation with team members. I submitted an international grant with groups from Peru, Chile, and France to increase the exchange of technology. Our team has offered to ground truth our acoustic data with drone robotics! Also, we may employ some infra-red cameras to explore cavitation, record individual fish in tanks in an attempt to identify fish species in the river, and automatic data uploads to a server! Rain is HUGE hazard to electronic recording equipment here (and indeed anywhere!). But, the…

Dolphins, dolphins and MORE dolphins!

Saturday was an extremely exciting and event-filled day for DCP on Bimini. It started bright and early, and already hot and humid, when we headed over to the Coral Reef II to join the Shedd Aquarium’s High School Marine Biology students. Onboard, Kel gave the students an informal lecture to teach them a bit about DCP itself, provide some information about the dolphin species they might encounter around Bimini, and brief them on how we perform photo ID. The class was an interactive audience, always engaged and ready to ask thoughtful questions. We are grateful to the students, the Coral Reef II crew and Shedd Aquarium for allowing us this chance to share our knowledge with them. Hope you guys…

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Dolphin Communication Project
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