Kathleen Dudzinski

Kathleen Dudzinski

19 March 2018

DCP Field Course Wrap-Up for January 2018 at RIMS, AKR

I spent two weeks on Roatan with two engaged, energetic and enthusiastic groups of students. One from Colorado State University and one from the University of Rhode Island (URI). Collectively, we were able to record a bit more than four hours of video data in nine early morning sessions. Mother Nature threw quite a bit of rain, wind and waves at us during both weeks but kicked it up a notch during our second week at Anthony's Key Resort and the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences.
Each group had safe and uneventful travels home, though my trek was a tad delayed this past weekend. All inbound flights on Saturday were delayed, and one was even cancelled! The group from URI was able to depart relatively on time and my flight was two hours delayed with an unplanned stop in Tampa to change pilots. So, I had the opportunity to spend an extra night in Atlanta on my way home. While not raining, the temps were decidedly lower than on Roatan!
When all is said and done, we had a very productive two weeks. I'll be processing video logs for several months. I also learned about a software for processing behavior from video. I'll need practice on it but I think it will be a useful tool!
Thank you all for paying attention and sharing our Roatan Adventures with us!

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Dory Leaping
19 March 2018

Mother Nature Saved the Best for Last!

It was the most beautiful day so far this week because the sun greeted us as we took the taxi boat to Bailey’s Cay! We did a full 30 min observation session despite the very strong current and the cheeky, rambunctious dolphins. The dolphins were very active today; they were very social at the surface also. We did pretty well recognizing the dolphins who swam by our observation posts.

After dolphin observations, we had a scrumptious breakfast followed by a data analysis session where we taught Kathleen how to use “BORIS,” a behavioral coding software. It was relatively straightforward and user-friendly for documenting both state and point event samples. Justin and Kathleen took pity on the fact that we’d not had much sun all week. So, they gave us an hour before lunch to soak up the sun!

We had a great lunch (cheese pizza, cheeseburgers, and sea bass). After lunch, we went back to Bailey’s Cay to observe training sessions. We divvied up into four groups of 3 and each group had a different trainer and dolphin. Kianna, Hannah and Gabby hung out with Gracie and her trainer. Gracie gave them hugs and kisses and was showing off to Alita by doing behaviors that Alita was learning … so a case of observational learning. Sam, Becky, and Erin sat with Eldon who was training Stan and Dory. Dory was a bit pushy and swam around while Stan was trying to do the behaviors Eldon asked. Stan and Dory are classic toddlers with huge amounts of energy. Chloe, Kendall, and Lauren observed Elyork as he spent time with Bailey and her calf and also Mrs. Beasley and Carmella. Elyork was letting the calf know that fish from him was ok and was introducing him to targeting. Mrs. Beasley and Carmella had light sessions and mostly hung out. Jess, Liz, and Danielle got to watch Zachary, Cain and Nick work with Calli and Elli. Calli was practicing husbandry procedures and we got to see her remora up close! We also noticed new rake marks on Calli’s right side near her pec fin.

We had the afternoon to ourselves (all 2.5 hrs!) to explore Bailey’s and Anthony’s Cay. A few of us rode horses while a few others showered, read, visited the beach and contemplated the paddle boards. Our evening has wrapped up with a rowdy discussion on animal welfare and the issues around captivity. We are writing our blog before dinner so we can have a leisurely meal and enjoy our last evening on Roatan at AKR!

Tomorrow, we head home. It’s been a radical, unforgettable week.

Kathleen, Justin and the URI MMPB team

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19 March 2018

Stormy Skies Supplied Squid, Snorkeling, and Sea turtles

Due to inclement weather, we were unable to venture over to Bailey’s Cay this morning for observations. We slept in and then enjoyed breakfast. After breakfast, we went to the other side of the island for a snorkel trip. The boat ride to the snorkel was bumpy but it was extremely fun because we were given the opportunity to drive the boat. The snorkel was incredible and the biodiversity was incredible which included lion fish, queen angel, trigger fish file fish and more. (Thank you, Danielle, for today’s blog photo!) The drift snorkel was also a different experience from the snorkel at Maya Cay because it dropped us off at one location and picked us up at another.
Two snorkels were initially planned but due to turbidity the guides decided to call off the second snorkel. After a refreshing shower, we sat down at lunch and discussed our thoughts about the snorkel. We enjoyed a much-needed nap and then had a discussion in maternal styles in bottlenose dolphins. Our discussion revealed that dolphin and human mothers are similar in that individuals have different parenting styles. We were able to connect the findings of the paper to anecdotes from the trainers and Kathleen. We headed over to RIMS for a presentation by Jennifer, Education Director. She gave a great talk about sea turtles and their conservation needs. Anatomy diversity evolution and conservation efforts were addressed. We all thought these topics and talk were enlightening. Sea turtles truly are living fossils.
We enjoyed a delicious and filling dinner. Gabby enjoyed hearty portions of pasta!! We finished the night by playing a rousing game of charades, while we waited for Kathleen to return from her talk to the local Rotary Club.
Hopefully the weather changes for our last full day on Roatan.
Until tomorrow,
Kathleen, Justin and the URI MMPB team

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Mac and Cheese
19 March 2018

Wind, Rain, Strong Currents, Waves … Mother Nature seems to be cranky!

This morning was a lesson in flexibility. We had an interesting morning – we got onto the taxi boat, headed for Bailey’s Cay with high hopes for another dolphin observation session. The current had other ideas and refused our landing request. It was the first time ever that Kathleen saw the taxi boat not able to smoothly land against the dock at Bailey’s Cay.
So, we came back and had a pre-breakfast nap and then enjoyed a warm leisurely breakfast before we spent the morning analyzing video data to confirm dolphin IDs in the footage from yesterday. We have improved significantly and we’ve gained confidence in recognizing and confirming individual dolphins from the video footage. It took an hour to code for just 10 minutes of video, which seemed to go by in the blink of an eye. We realize it should take longer to review and code a video but the practice of it was a realization of what it takes.
Lunch preceded a session for each of us to work on our portfolio projects. The portfolios are the students’ opportunity to demonstrate their ability to connect the research we read about with their in-the-field experiences and activities.
Our afternoon included a discussion about self-rubbing versus pectoral fin social rubbing contact among dolphins. We learned a bit about what went into collecting and reviewing the data for that DCP paper. Then, we had a dolphin training lecture from Teri Bolton, Assistant Director of RIMS. It was an inspiring and really amazing lecture. We liked how passionate she is about what she does, her work with the dolphins and the other trainers.
We had a group office hours session to discuss our portfolios. We decided to wrap up our field report now because we are about to embark on the AKR Fiesta night and we are anticipating the mac and cheese … Kathleen has really set our expectations high for that portion of the meal!
We hope tomorrow’s weather will improve and we are doing a sun dance before dinner, as Kathleen write’s this blog for us!
Until tomorrow,
Kathleen, Justin and the URI MMPB team
P.S. As evidenced by today’s blog photo, the mac and cheese was delicious!

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19 March 2018

A Dolphin-filled Day!

We finally did a full observation session! It was crazy to be able to do a full session. The dolphins were surprisingly quiet – not a lot of surface action in general and very uninterested in us on the docks. The water and the weather were pleasantly calmer this morning compared to the previous days! The 30 min observation session went by really fast! It was cool to go around the docks for this session and see the dolphins in other areas of the enclosure. It was interesting that we saw dolphins that Kathleen did not get on camera because they were in other areas of the enclosure.
Breakfast was wonderful as always and the pancakes are highly recommended by Kianna!
The rest of our morning was in the classroom where we watched today’s footage and had a discussion about the pec fin papers. It was clear that the dolphins were very quiet underwater – they mirrored their underwater quietness and low activity at the surface. It seemed from our view that dolphins were always around Kathleen but there were bits of time on the footage where there were no dolphins in view, which was surprising. It was also neat to see the pec fin behaviors and postures that we had only talked about or read about. It is starting to come clear the relationships that these dolphins have with each other.
During our class discussion, we learned that we’d have our dolphin swim at 1:30 today – woohoo!
So, after a joyful tasty lunch, we put on our bathing suits, grabbed our snorkel gear and headed down to RIMS. We got another short encounter with Alita and then donned our gear for the swim. Below are our brief impressions of our swims.
Justin: I was impressed by their ability to glide through the water while I struggled against the current!
Chloe: it was exciting to see the animals we’d been fawning over up close and personal in their own element as well as explore different areas of the enclosure.
Gabby: I really liked seeing the dolphin calf up close and personal because we usually don’t get to see a calf so close. Let’s just say my goggles were filling with water and it was not the ocean.
Lauren: I appreciated the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be able to see and swim with these animals in a natural lagoon.
Becky: I thought it was really incredible that the dolphins are comfortable including us in their natural habitat. At one point, there were 7 dolphins that swam all around me and were touching me on my sides.
Danielle: It was eye-opening how fast these animals could swim just at ease … without effort while I was kicking really hard through the water.
Jess: It was very exhilarating when the dolphins chose to swim directly to me and interact with me.
Liz: I was thankful that the dolphins came near us because they could have chosen to not interact with us.
Erin: I like how the calf was eager to interact with us but then Bailey or one of the younger females would swoop in and swim between him and us.
Kianna: I thought that it was really amazing that we got the experience to put the footage we’ve been analyzing into real-life and see the dolphins and their behavior with our own eyes.
Kendall: It was pretty breathtaking and interesting to feel like I was part of the dolphin pod.
Hannah: I thought it was unbelievable to witness their speed underwater. Being right next to them when they swam swiftly was amazing.
Sam: I thought it was exhaustingly magical.
Our afternoon was complete with a rejuvenating break that offered the option of a hot shower, and time to work on our reading or just ponder our dolphin swims. Of course, the afternoon’s rain, wind and wave action could not keep our spirits down!
Tomorrow begins with another data collection session, but before then we get to enjoy another yummy dinner!
Until tomorrow,
Kathleen, Justin and the URI MMPB team

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URI group on beach
19 March 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
19 March 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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19 March 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!
19 March 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
19 March 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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