Kathleen Dudzinski

Kathleen Dudzinski

URI group on beach
16 January 2018

Dolphins and Maya Cay!

We had a quick continental breakfast and then headed over to Bailey’s Cay to make dolphin observations. It was not raining, but the currents were still strong and the wind blowing and underwater visibility was not awesome. Kathleen did get in the water and collected about 5 minutes of video – before the current dictated that she exit … on the other side of the enclosure! We got to see quite a few bellies when the dolphins came over to say hi before Kathleen got in the water. Their curiosity was short-lived as they were into their own socializing.
After observations, we stayed on Bailey’s Cay having an informal discussion about personalities and contact behavior among dolphins. We also got a chance to briefly explore the cay before the trainers arrived and we participated in our first ever dolphin encounter. Seven of us (Hannah, Becky, Jess, Liz, Kianna, Chloe and Gabby) had an encounter with Maury. She was very boisterous and interactive. She fed off of our energy! The trainer let us ask her for a few vocalizations. We each received a hug and kiss and we did so in the strong current! We felt her weight in the hug! The remaining members of our group (Justin, Kendall, Erin, Danielle, Lauren and Sam) met Elli who was doing her own thing in a rather rebellious manner. She would periodically swim off and then return to us. She was fun when with us but we learned quite clearly that dolphins have their own mind!
Our dolphin swim was postponed because of the underwater current. So, we raced by taxi boat from Bailey’s Cay to the bus for a trek to Maya Cay on the south side of Roatan. Maya Cay is the third island in the trio of AKR.
We had a fantastic snorkel just off the cay and saw many of the fish presented in the Fish ID lecture last night. We saw disco fish, barracuda, a small school of squid, lionfish, and an eel. We saw sea fans, sponges and coral, too. The water was relatively warm and the wind was non-existent (we were on the leeward side of the island). After snorkeling, we were wet and chilly but lunch was great – the banana chips were beyond delicious. After lunch, we checked out the replica of the Mayan ruins. It was impressive and there were lots of steps.
We also enjoyed the rescued, rehabilitated animals offered forever homes on Maya Cay. They do a really good job offering enrichment and dynamic enclosures for the variety of animals – including a jaguar, puma, monkeys, etc. Jess, Becky and Kianna got the chance to meet a large male South American sea lion. His name was Ting. He gave great hugs and kisses.
We returned from Maya Cay for a much-needed shower to warm up and rinse off the salt water … and to take a power nap! After this respite, we met in the lobby and reviewed the footage collected this morning. It was interesting to see how the underwater visibility changed when Kathleen moved from one side of the enclosure to another. The audio on the MVA camera was decidedly better than the GoPro footage but both showed the dolphins interacting with each other and checking out Kathleen. With the array, you could hear the really good quality of the sounds. Our observations from the surface were augmented by the underwater footage – the latter gave us a much better understanding of how the dolphins were interacting with each other.
We wrapped up the evening (before dinner) with a presentation by Kathleen about DCP’s research at RIMS over the years as well as their other studies around the globe. Dinner was good, as always. The company was good and the local live band was very entertaining.
Until tomorrow,
Kathleen, Justin and the URI MMPB team

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URI group
16 January 2018

Our Sun Dance Worked … until evening!

We met the dolphins this morning – all were very nice and we felt right at home! We could not tell if the squeaks and whistles were from the dolphins or us! Kathleen was not able to collect observations because the current was very strong as was the wind. But, she introduced us to the individual dolphins. We met Tilly, Dory, Bailey and her calf, Champ, Ronnie and Callie and Elli. Polly brought us seaweed to play with. Dory was swimming upside down waving her flippers at us! Unfortunately, we had to leave the dolphins and head up to breakfast, which was equally as exciting! (thanks CSU for the food head’s up!!) We were pleasantly informed about how good the meals would be.
Our next event was in the classroom where we observed video footage Kathleen filmed last week. It was interesting to see how much effort goes into every minute of video – from collection to analysis. We started learning how to recognize and identify the individual dolphins.
Lunch was followed by a pool session with the MVA. It was very light weight in the water as opposed to what it felt like on land. It was surprisingly difficult to view the subject being filmed and move the MVA around in the water. There was a lot more bumping into other students than we expected. Kianna thought it was really cool to try to orient ourselves in the water with the array as Kathleen would do when recording dolphins. Lauren was pleased to be entrusted with an expensive piece of equipment. Hannah thought it was interesting to learn what Kathleen does with the MVA – by practicing with the MVA, we got to be in her “fins” to see and feel and experience how she handles the MVA. Gabby appreciated practicing with the MVA after reading the paper last night.
After drying off, we practiced photo-ID from the video and began drawing the 2018 sketches for the dolphins. It’s a lot more involved than we originally thought and the 1.5 hours went by in the blink of an eye. The subtle nature of some of the rake marks and scars was surprising. It definitely got easier as the session moved on … we look forward to improving as the week goes by!
We attended the fish ID lecture and were very very impressed by Peter and his enthusiasm for recognizing fish. We enjoyed hearing the life history facts and stories about the fish we’ll see while snorkeling this week. We learned that fish have really cool behaviors too … not just terrestrial animals. In fact, after hearing this chat several of us even considered taking a fish biology class! We gained an appreciation for little fish and tiny invertebrates on the reef!
As we sit here, it is pouring – still, spirits are high despite the rain. It helps that dinner was delicious and was accompanied by a lively game of telephone and fun facts!
We hope the weather improves for our dolphin encounter and swim tomorrow morning, as well as our visit to Maya Cay.
Until tomorrow,
Kathleen, Justin and the URI MMPB team*

*The URI MMPB team includes: Becky, Jess, Liz, Kianna, Erin, Gabby, Danielle, Hannah, Lauren, Kendall, Chloe, Sam

P.S. we will finish the night with a sun dance … hoping to bring about sunshine and good weather tomorrow!

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Bailey
16 January 2018

Transitions and Wind from a Northern Storm Front

At about 4:30 AM, it sounded like a freight train was speeding by our room(s)! The predicted northern storm front had arrived with a vengeance. Luckily (so far) this is a “dry” front … meaning lots and lots of strong wind but no rain. The last CSU data collection session this morning was cancelled because the winds would have made collecting surface observations very difficult and because the water current would likely have swept Kathleen away (almost)!
Still, the CSU group had a delicious, hearty breakfast followed by a chat about gender roles in science. Then, it was last minute packing and prep for departure.
During the first week with CSU, we collected about 3.5 hours of underwater video data with the dolphins, 14 sessions of fluke stroke per breath for the student project with Bill and Ritchie, and 6 test sessions of the innovate/create sessions with Han, Ritchie, Bill, French, Ronnie, Maury and Poli. We had a very productive week.
About 1.5 hours after the CSU team departed, the URI Animal and Vet. Science group arrived! They’d started the day REALLY early (~01:30 AM) to get to Roatan. Everyone arrived safely and all their bags did, too! These students are enrolled in Dr. R’s Marine Mammal Physiology and Behavior “J-term” (January term) course that includes the weeklong lab with DCP/me at AKR/RIMS on Roatan. They’ve spent the last two weeks with course work and will now apply what they learned to data collection and observations with on the dolphins here.
We had a good start (and these URI students concur with the CSU students’ view of the meals at AKR – Delicious!) and hope the wind dies a bit more so we can conduct our first morning session observing the dolphins tomorrow.
Until then, cheers!
Kathleen, Justin and the URI MMPB team!

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Go Rams!
16 January 2018

Last Day in Paradise … with dolphins!

We had another sunny beautiful morning that was all quiet on the surface during our observation session. It could be said that it was “all quiet on the western front!” More often than not we were able to recognize the dolphins that swam by our observation stations. And, Bailey’s calf was being a dolphin and was swimming between several different other dolphins. Several of the dolphins had new rake marks, so they must have had fun last night! Several of the dolphins were throwing seaweed above the surface, almost like playing catch with each other.
After our early morning session, we had a delightful breakfast. And following our morning meal, the last two of us, Chandra and Macy, helped with the innovate/create study. The rest of us entered data, transcribed notes, enjoyed the hammocks and took a brief nap – the first fleeting “free hours” of our week. Our rest prepared us for our physiology lecture in a chilled classroom (who would have thought at the start of the week that we would welcome an air-conditioned room!).
During the physiology lecture, we learned it all comes down to energy and water. The importance of the shape of the dolphins was discussed such that we realized how it is advantageous to their success as fully aquatic mammals. Dolphins have 1/3 more blood than we do, also. Lunch followed our talk and we enjoyed pasta and burgers and yummy salads.
After lunch, we returned to Bailey’s Cay for our last session of data collection on fluke strokes per breath for Ritchie and Bill. The underwater visibility was back to excellent, which was good for counting fluke strokes. Ritchie was a bit distracted by what might have been going on in the main enclosure as he kept looking that way. We were able to collect 4 sessions with Ritchie and 3 with Bill. This brings our total sessions to 14: 7 per animal. The average strokes per minute over all sessions was fairly stable and also breaths per minute were quite consistent. We will look at the data more after back at CSU for our projects.
We wrapped up our day at Bailey’s Cay with a photo of us and the CSU study abroad flag and French and Ronnie! Denry helped us get the image (Thank you!).
We finished our day with some souvenir shopping and paddle-boarding and kayaking! Macy did yoga (cobra and down-dog) on the paddle-board while Lauren N. and Delaney finally made it to a standing position (with only 1 or 2 flops!).
We finished the day with a final delicious supper. Tomorrow, sadly, we return to Colorado taking many new memories, lessons learned, and new friends made with us.
Until next time,
Lauren (#1), Kenna, Caitlyn, Lauren (#2), Casey, Julia, Serena, Delaney, Cailey, Macy (like the store), and Chandra (the CSU crew) with supporting roles from Shane, Kathleen, Heather, Dee, & Maria

P.S. Have fun University of Rhode Island group – enjoy the food! We did!

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night snorkel
16 January 2018

Not a Cloud in the Sky!

We were greeted by the sun this morning on our way to data observations. Our notebooks stayed dry during observations and we had to apply and reapply sunscreen, though we are not complaining. The surface observations were much less – the animals seemed to be less active at the surface and more interactive underwater. Some of the dolphins were a bit playful with seaweed to us. Kathleen was able to get a longer session as the dolphins were social and the underwater visibility was good. The calf kept getting corralled by other dolphins who seemed to want him around.
We also started our own research project and confirmed our methods. We had 5 sessions in the morning: 3 with Bill and 2 with Ritchie. We had 6 sessions in the afternoon (3 each with Bill and Ritchie). The afternoon underwater visibility decreased significantly … and it was also harder to see Bill or Ritchie because of the glare off the water surface.
After our delicious lunch, Teri B. gave us a really cool lecture about Dolphin Training. Her enthusiasm was contagious. We learned the importance of eye contact and timing when training, and that not everyone can be a trainer. We learned about operant conditioning versus classical conditioning. We learned about the relationships that can be and should be built with the dolphins. And, that if you work with them for a long time, you can read their behavior.
Jennifer spoke to us about Nighttime Adaptations on the Reef – before we did our first night snorkel. We learned that some fish change colors at night as compared to during the day. The best part was we could use what we learned right away during our night snorkel. We started the snorkel from a floating platform behind the dolphin area at Bailey’s Cay. We saw an eel, baby squid, an octopus, squirrel fish, blue tang, puffer fish, and parrot fish (lying on the sand for the night!). It was a little scary at first snorkeling at night but it was also super cool because of all the life we saw. The coral polyps were neat because they made the coral seem more alive as opposed to a rock-like item. We saw a brittle star and nudibranchs and crabs, too. On our way back from Bailey’s Cay on the taxi boat, Macy saw a shooting star in the bright and clear sky.
Dinner was after our snorkel and included a tasty tomato/basil soup.
Until tomorrow,
Lauren (#1), Kenna, Caitlyn, Lauren (#2), Casey, Julia, Serena, Delaney, Cailey, Macy (like the store), and Chandra (the CSU crew) with supporting roles from Shane, Kathleen, Heather, Dee, & Maria

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Project Chat
16 January 2018

Dolphins, Sea Turtles, Sea Jellies, Fish and more …

Many of us woke to find that we slept through an earthquake last night, or did not feel it. After letting our families know we were alive and well, we headed to collect dolphin behavior observations. It was our first set of observations without rain. The dolphins were splashing and noisy at the surface. We had more success also in recognizing individual dolphins. We saw Ronnie, Lenca, Tilly, Carmella, French, Ritchie, Dory and Polly. Calli and the calf were also easy to ID this morning.
We did a brief break for breakfast (since food is a motivating factor this week), then went back to Bailey’s Cay to test out and decide on the methods for our project that focuses on respirations that might be associated with tail strokes. It was a struggle but every idea we had got us closer to what we might actually be able to do for collecting data on the last two days here. We’re excited to try our hand at data collection for our project tomorrow.
A few of us participated in data collection on the innovate/create study. Then, before lunch, we spent some time learning a bit more about confirming dolphin IDs from video and the video log process. Confirming the IDs is a lot harder than we all thought it would be – recognizing the individual dolphins is straightforward but confirming all their marks is not that easy.
After a hearty lunch, we listened to Jennifer in a lecture about sea turtles and their conservation. We learned about the Arribada for the 10 million eggs that are laid seasonally by between 75,000 and 100,000 sea turtles in Costa Rica. Then we went on our group’s first boat and drift snorkel on Butcher’s Reef. We saw a puffer fish, sea jellies, and a good-sized nurse shark. Serena saw a moray eel. Cailey saw a lion fish, too! Though there were no whitecaps, there was a 3 ft swell that felt a bit like a roller coaster.
Tonight’s dinner was a fiesta night on the cay – a BBQ picnic with delicious ribs and cheesy mac ‘n cheese! Oh yes, brownies for dessert! There was a hermit crab race and a limbo contest (woohoo Delaney!) and we also learned a bit about the culture of the islands with a presentation by Garifuna dancers.
This is our first clear night with a vivid view of the stars! We look forward to tomorrow and the potential for the sun to greet us on Bailey’s Cay!
Until tomorrow,
Lauren (#1), Kenna, Caitlyn, Lauren (#2), Casey, Julia, Serena, Delaney, Cailey, Macy (like the store), and Chandra (the CSU crew) with supporting roles from Shane, Kathleen, Heather, Dee, & Maria

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Gracie
16 January 2018

Dolphin Swim – Where Did They Go?

We shifted the morning schedule having a continental breakfast before collecting data at Bailey’s Cay. This was because we had our dolphin swim this morning! We got to swim with the dolphins after meeting them during a beach encounter. Shane tried to let Kenna know she had 6 dolphins right next to her but she was just swimming forward looking for dolphins!
Baby dolphin! Baby dolphin! Bailey’s calf was all around us swimming but mom was none too pleased that he was curious about the split-fin humans! Cailey completely forgot to try to recognize or ID any of the dolphins when seeing them under water!
It was true that if they did not want to be seen, they were not. We heard their clicks plenty and their whistles but we’d turn around and not see any dolphin. Then at other times, they just appeared right next to one of us or below one of us.
In the gazebo, after data collection and before our encounter, we chatted about physiology and metabolism.
Of course, the highlight of our mid-day was lunch! We thoroughly enjoyed a hearty lunch after swimming against a current when observing the dolphins during our encounter and swims.
Our afternoon had Kenna, Julia and Serena helping with data collection for the innovate/create study and the rest of us observed the male dolphin subgroups in the back areas as comparison to the early morning surface observations.
The afternoon wrapped up with a classroom discussion on behavioral observations. We learned how behavioral observations should be conducted – for data collection, analyses and then internal and external validation applications.
All in all, it was a great day … punctuated by much rain, again. Supposedly the sun is planning to visit us tomorrow. Let’s hope so!
Until tomorrow,
Lauren (#1), Kenna, Caitlyn, Lauren (#2), Casey, Julia, Serena, Delaney, Cailey, Macy (like the store), and Chandra (the CSU crew) with supporting roles from Shane, Kathleen, Heather, Dee, & Maria

P.S. my apologies to Delaney’s mom for misspelling your daughter’s name on the first few entries.
P.S.S. we were not impacted by the earthquake earlier tonight. Thank you for your thoughts and concerns.

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CSU group on snorkel boat to Maya Cay
16 January 2018

Don’t Touch the Reef!

We had a very wet data collection session, which yielded data sheets that were soaked through. But, we could recognize several of the individual dolphins. We could chat among ourselves to confirm some of the markings and so learned a few new dolphins by their scars and marks.
After breakfast, we spent time reviewing the video from Sunday morning. Caitlyn did not think they made that much noise when underwater but there was a lot of noise from them on the video. And, watching the video of dolphins it seemed to require more mobility than when Julia tried the MVA in the pool yesterday.
We visited Maya Cay today. We got to learn about the Mayan culture and toured the replica ruins with the inclusion of a real Mayan ball court. This court is an arena for a ball game played by ancient Mayans. The leader of the losing team of the game was often sacrificed to the gods.
We also got to tour the rescue zoo of confiscated, rescued, rehabilitated exotic animals; for example, there was a jaguar, a few mountain lions, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, capuchins, American crocodiles, numerous birds and a few reptiles. After observing the animals, we entered the food chain by taking our first coastal snorkel. The water temp was 79°F but it felt a tad chilly. Edwin was our snorkel guide and he showed us many colorful fish: barracuda, lobster, peacock angelfish, blue tangs, disco fish, indigo hamlets, groupers, brain coral and sea fans. Of course, snorkeling allowed our appetites to grow and lunch was welcome and delicious! A short post-prandial relaxation period (a nice little nap) followed lunch before we returned to AKR. The excursion of the snorkel session required a relaxing afternoon.
A belated Happy Birthday to Matthew (Heather’s now 16-year-old son) and an early Happy Birthday to Nate (Dee’s husband) and to Dixie, the mini seabeagle (6 years old tomorrow).
Tomorrow is our dolphin swim adventure. Let’s hope it is not raining!
Until then,
Lauren (#1), Kenna, Caitlyn, Lauren (#2), Casey, Julia, Serena, Delany, Cailey, Macy (like the store), and Chandra (the CSU crew) with supporting roles from Shane, Kathleen, Heather, Dee, & Maria

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observing dolphins
16 January 2018

Dolphins and SUN!

The nighttime deluge of rain was with us through the first part of our morning observations. But, our wishes last night were eventually granted with the sun eventually peaking from behind the clouds. Of course, Initial introductions were overwhelming and crazy with the dolphins! There were a lot of dolphins with names and faces to learn at the same time. We sort of struggled with IDs on our first morning but we were really excited about trying our hand at recognizing each individual dolphin. Many of us were very focused on trying to keep our balance while walking on the dock around the enclosure to our watching spots. The Honduran breakfast was savory, salty, delicious and filling. After waiting 30 minutes, we ensured our snorkeling skills were proficient with a practice session in the pool. We each got to use the MVA to practice being a dolphin researcher. It was easy to swim with but not necessarily to record our fellow students underwater. Lunch was just as good as breakfast. We had our first lecture, shared with students from the University of MN, from Kathleen. We learned about the dolphins here at RIMS and a bit more about DCP’s dolphin studies overall. We then went back to Bailey’s Cay to watch a couple of training sessions with the dolphins and to get closer to several of the dolphins to see their markings up close. We could refer to this part of our day as “Dolphin Kisses and Lost Sunglasses!” Casey had tried to gift her sunglasses to King Neptune as an offering for sunshine tomorrow but the awesome trainers retrieved them for her. (Thanks!) We thought the dolphin “lips” (rostrum) would be softer and their stuck-out tongues were more mocking than anything else! The fish ID talk was informative and engaging. Dinner was scrumptious! We’ll dream of sunny, warm skies for tomorrow! Lauren (#1), Kenna, Caitlyn, Lauren (#2), Casey, Julia, Serena, Delany, Cailey, Macy (like the store), and Chandra (the CSU crew) with supporting roles from Shane, Kathleen, Heather, Dee, & Maria
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wind and rain view
16 January 2018

Travel Challenges followed by Rain, Rain, Rain

We each had varied travel experiences to get to Roatan from the USA. The CSU students with their intrepid professor (Dr. K) arrived without incident, which was good since they began travel at about 02:30 AM. Dee, Heather and Maria each had uneventful trips from Miami and Houston, respectively. I, on the other hand, had a never-before experience: my first flight was delayed because the pilots got locked out of the cockpit. (Not sure where they left their keys!) I received the last standby seat on the next flight to Atlanta and made my connecting flight to Roatan. My checked bag, however, decided to stay a night in Atlanta. I’ve never been so glad to have the MVA as a carry-on!
We had a great first afternoon with a RIMS/AKR orientation from Jennifer, a delicious dinner and then a wrap up chat about the research, the MVA and the plans for tomorrow. We did the evening chat with the ambiance of rain, which is still falling. We hope it will clear in the morning as we will start observations at 6:45 AM.
Tomorrow’s post will be from the student team! Stay tuned!
Cheers
Kathleen with Heather, Dee, Marie and the CSU crew!

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Write to us via snail-mail at:

Dolphin Communication Project
P.O. Box 7485
Port St. Lucie, FL, 34985
USA

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