Thursday was our last day of data collection for our Innovative/Creativity study of the dolphins and sea lions at DE. It was another successful day of data collection! Here, you can see Stormy with O'Kelle during a morning session!
We had 12 sessions with the dolphins to bring all our numbers up to four trial sessions for all the females and three to four sessions each for the males. And, we were able to connect with another seven trainers to complete personality scores for the dolphins with whom they work the most.
Kathleen gave a lunchtime talk about DCP's research in The Bahamas and Dawn had a meet-greet with Nina and Zoe! This trip was Dawn's first time up-close with dolphins or sea lions. Dawn laughed quite a bit and though tentative at first, TeShalla showed her where and how to touch them on their melon, pectoral fins and fluke.
This has been a very successful field session! We are reviewing our data tomorrow before packing up gear for our return to the US.
Kathleen, Allison & Dawn!
Yes, it's true! We are collecting data on how creative and innovative the sea lions at DE are also! That is, we are not only looking at the dolphins. In this photo, Dawn and Allison are watching as Lorette asks Maggie to display new behaviors of her choosing!
Today was another good day for data collection with 12 sessions and several more personality surveys completed! The weather was good with more wind than yesterday and abundant sunshine! Can you tell what I love about the tropics!!
We spent a bit of time reviewing the data files and also chatting with several trainers about the creativity levels of the dolphins (male and female) and the sea lions ... we also watched a Brown Boobie bird fly circles above the gulls focused on the fish buckets!
All in all a great day!!
One more day on Thursday for data collection before we pack everything up in preparation for data processing and analyses.
Kathleen, Dawn & Allison!
Today was a wonderfully sunny and warm day! A welcome change from yesterday. And, we collected LOTS of data: we had 36 sessions for data collection with the dolphins and sea lions. We now have 3 repeat sessions with almost every animal who knows the cue for innovate/create. It is really exciting to see the individual differences now become apparent! For example, neither Aunty V nor Stormy are "morning dolphins." They are much better creatively in the afternoons!
We also coordinated with the trainers for completion of dolphin personality scale surveys. With this information, we will be able to compare how the trainers assess the dolphins and sea lions with how our collected data suggests their individuality will show with respect to their creativity.
Allison and Dawn also gave a lunchtime presentation about the creativity testing and how we will apply the results with dolphins to studies of toddlers (that's Dawn's area of expertise). The trainers were quite interested and are very supportive of our studies. The dolphins and sea lions are also engaged and get to present new behaviors and play around with complex behaviors.
Our ride back this afternoon was louder than usual as we were on a guest boat. Everyone (us and the guests) were pleased with our visit to Blue Lagoon Island today and our time with the dolphins, sea lions and sunshine!
Because we have two more days of research, we are heading back to the island tomorrow morning early to add to our sample size!
Kathleen, Allison & Dawn!
If I remember the song correctly, rainy days and Mondays get the singer down ... That was not the case at DE with innovative data collection today! Yes, it was rainy, with a bit of lightning and thunder thrown in for good measure. But, the dolphins did not let rain get in their way and neither did the trainers nor us researchers! And, after a few minutes, we were just as wet as the dolphins!
Here, you see Zoe and Javon finishing a research session with innovative behaviors. We were able to record 16 sessions today - 5 with the sea lions and 11 with the dolphins. The last few sessions were wet! But, we all had fun ... the dolphins especially seemed to delight in presenting new versions of some already-seen behaviors.
The weather truncated our day in half, but it was still really productive. We have more than 14 GB of GoPro data and another 38 minutes of videotape footage. We'll be back out there tomorrow ... and thankfully, the forecast is predicted to be drier. Fingers crossed!
Kathleen, Allison & Dawn!
Thank you DE!! Allison and I were able to observe and record 19 innovate sessions with the dolphins and 4 with the sea lions! We witnessed a variety of behaviors from leaps, spirals, spits, vocalizations and more! We were able to record three moms with their calves "in tow" watching and (we think) learning! Two of the younger male dolphins presented new behaviors they'd been learning ... practicing their new skill(s), it seemed!
Our tally in video data for the day was ~18 GB of video with a GoPro and 47 minutes of videotape on our second camera. Talk about lots to analyze!
We head back to DE today (leaving in about 45 minutes!) for another likely (hopefully) productive day. We'll share some of the research perspectives of the data collection from our team tonight. We'll have three observers (Dawn arrived - hurray!) collecting data today!
Kathleen, Allison & Dawn
Allison and I arrived today, albeit on different flights. We are settled in at our lodging and have groceries stocked. Our cameras are prepped - batteries charged, tapes loaded. I spoke with Mr. Johnson to coordinate our pick up transportation for tomorrow.
We are ready to collect data! And, I will introduce Allison to the DE team and the dolphins bright and early tomorrow morning! Dawn arrives tomorrow and we'll bring her up to speed.
We'll have an update on our first round of observations and data collection tomorrow.
Kathleen & Allison (& Dawn & Dee ... to arrive)
DCP's 2016 DE research team!
As the song says ... "all my bags are packed and I'm ready to go ..." Departure is Saturday morning from Fort Lauderdale (for me) to Nassau, The Bahamas. There is not much of a climate change for me with this trip, but I do believe the temps will be a bit warmer than currently in FL!
We arrive tomorrow and will get settled in and prepare the MVA2 and cameras for observations and data collection. We head out to DE on Sunday bright and early.
I'm looking forward to assisting on this trip. That is, our focus will be collecting data to understand how innovative dolphins might be, specifically the dolphins and DE. Many of these individuals have been trained to respond to the cue "innovate" or "create," which means "do something new to this session." We're looking to see how many "new" responses each dolphin might present.
Stay tuned for travel updates tomorrow with research and data and dolphin updates to follow throughout the coming week.
In two days, I depart for Nassau, The Bahamas, for a week of data collection at Dolphin Encounters at Blue Lagoon Island (DE). I'm looking forward to returning to DE to continue our research, meet the new dolphins and touch base with the training team! This research trip is a bit different for me/DCP. It will include three colleagues from two universities and focus on collecting data to better understand creativity in dolphins.
Drs. Deirdre Yeater and Dawn Melzer, both Assistant Professors from Sacred Heart University, and Dr. Allison Kaufman, a Research Scientist in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from The University of Connecticut, form the rest of our research team. (You might remember Dr. Yeater from the college field courses to Bimini in years previous.)
In brief, our research plan is to test the number of innovative behaviors dolphins will present in response to an “innovate” or “create” request. Personally, I wonder if individual dolphins have different levels of creativity! I'll provide some updates through the next week on this study and include some insight and comments from Dawn, Allison and Dee as the work progresses.
This research trip is a week long from January 30 to February 6. I'll post field reports regularly ... stay tuned! Now, I need to review the gear and get packing!
Associate Professor, Sacred Heart University, Connecticut
Dr. Melzer received her Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT. Her previous research projects focused on cognitive development in young children, specifically mental state understanding and executive function skills. Currently Dr. Melzer is collaborating with DCP and other researchers on a comparative study investigating the use of creativity assessments in marine mammals and young children.
Research scientist, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Connecticut
Allison B. Kaufman is research scientist with the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Connecticut, where she also teaches as a adjunct professor in the departments of Marine Biology and Psychology. Allison holds a doctorate in Neuroscience from the University of California, Riverside. She has published on language and cognition in several species of non-human animals, in addition to measurement techniques for observing animal behavior. Currently, her main interest is in the application of research on human constructs, such as creativity and intelligence, to animals. She is the co-editor of two books, Animal Creativity and Innovation, and Pseudoscience: The Conspiracy Against Science.