The day was bright but very windy with rain squalls throughout the morning. Actually, it poured all night and we woke to a sort of tapering off of the rain. The underwater visibility did not look half bad when we took a reconnaissance trek to Bailey’s Key. (Hard to tell in this view since the rain is rather hard!) The morning had some very choppy water on the way to Bailey’s, though the afternoon showed a lessening of the wave height. That all said, the underwater current was quite strong and thus I did not get in to collect any underwater data today. We had a very productive week with more than 6 hours of video data collected! (double that amount actually with use of our GoPro and the AX100 in the MVA2).
We did go watch the dolphins from the surface several times today. And, we got a chance to chat with Eldon and Teri about our research and other projects. Everyone in our group was able to do some souvenir shopping, pack up gear and relax during the afternoon. We all got together for our last supper together, though trying to get everyone together for a group photo proved too much for the group! We only missed 3 folks in one image … but I was able to get several subgroup pictures to make a collage (eventually) of the whole group. I guess you could say we were mirroring dolphin society tonight with our “fission-fusion” activity! Thank you to everyone who joined me this week!
This was a great group and a very productive week! Thank you all for your enthusiasm and support! Tomorrow is our travel day home. Have a great weekend!
Though the weather has thrown another Hurricane in our path, we had a lovely day with some sunshine and lots of data collection – two sessions, one in the early morning (06:15 AM) and one in the late morning (10:00 AM). (Can you tell my brain is focused on data collection, not the weather!?) We were supposed to have more than a few rain showers but it seems that storm “Nate” will be sending some wind and rain by us tonight suggesting that Friday will be weather-full.
We had really good underwater visibility for both morning sessions and for the dolphin swim session sandwiched between them. Several of our DCP eco-tourists (Dee, Heather, Brittany, Erin, Riley and Regina) elected to do a second dolphin swim. Polly and Callie were waiting for me to enter on the second data session! Stan and Shawn played with Heather and Dee and Calli circle swam around everyone. Erin played with a seashell with Shawn – he kept bringing it back to her! There was lots of mother/calf swimming around the swimmers. Calli was very interested in Regina’s fins, which might contain a few rake marks! Gracie regularly checked on Shawn but she did not want to play. The dolphins were very playful and a grand time was had by all involved!
We also got a bit of time to meet with the training team to share some video with them and talk about our developing research program to study creativity in these dolphins. And, our afternoon was spent transcribing the half-dozen slates that were full of data to support the video collected. A good day indeed!
Tomorrow is our last full day here … and let’s hope we have good weather!
We have a diehard group of eco-tour participants dedicated to our research and data collection at 6:30 every morning but today was their day to enjoy an encounter and swim with the dolphins (after, of course, data collection was complete!). The encounter had members of our group sharing time with Gracie and Alita, two adult females. After a meet and greet, everyone spent ~30 min swimming with the dolphin group. The smiles on their human faces on water exit were a testament to the fun had by all. Games of seagrass toss and chase were engaged in. Everyone was still talking about their swim experience at Fiesta night, which also included delicious food (the mac & cheese did not disappoint!) as well as entertainment and prizes! We were a lucky group tonight – Butch won a 30-min massage from a grab bag. Regina’s hermit crab won the crab race. And Dee was crowned Limbo Queen!
Our day, as with each this week, began at 6:15 at the water taxi followed by a 50-min data collection session. The one-year-old calves were feisty and full of speed today. We watched Gracie wrestle with her calf, Shawn. Dory and Alita were together most of the observation session, except when Alita decided to use the seagrass bed as a loofa pad! She rubbed her entire belly in the bottom and then her face! You can see her here in a screen grab from the video record.
All in all, it was another great day of diving, camaraderie, and dolphin data collection! Several folks said the weather is predicted to shift to rain and wind tomorrow, and I am hoping it holds off a couple of days.
We met at the water taxi stand at 6 AM for the short ride to Bailey’s Key. I was in the water by 6:15 AM and observing dolphins very soon thereafter! The underwater visibility was less than the previous days but the dolphins were just as social. Erin took this photo during her observations – it makes me wonder who is watching whom?! Calli, Polly and Elli decided that my fins were a delightful toy! How often have you pulled on someone’s feet or fins when they are swimming? :-)
At about 35 min into my observations, it got very quiet – noticeably quiet because the dolphins had been whistling and buzzing and were just plain loud. I learned from our surface observation team that there were at least 2 wild dolphins that swam into the channel just east of Bailey’s Key. They swam in, circled for a couple minutes and then swam back outside the reef. Ron said he thought there was a larger group out there. Calli, and two other dolphins were focused at the net listening.
Our morning session yielded about 40 min of video and included several minutes of Mrs. Beasley and Carmella! They have been on camera more this week than in the last few years. I think for Carmella it might be related to her two youngest offspring – Stan and Elli who are very social and inquisitive.
Our late morning was spent transcribing notes and copying footage to our hard drives. I was able to get back in for another 30 min observation session at noon. They underwater visibility had dropped off a bit, but that did not deter us from returning at 3 PM to film a couple of training sessions to confirm camera angles – both above and below the water surface – for a future study on dolphin innovation. John’s suggestion for top and bottom GoPros worked out very nicely!
Our day wrapped up with a quick swim in the swimming pool where several of our group shared details of their day to Maya Key and scuba dives. Everyone seemed to have a great day … and we did not turn into pumpkins when “Roatan Midnight” arrived – also known as 8 PM!
Tomorrow is another early start but hopefully will bring more neat behaviors to observe and discuss!
Another really good morning of visibility and socializing dolphins! The three one-year-old calves were quite rambunctious today. During the early morning session, Stan was zipping around sometimes with Shawn and others with his older sister, Elli. Calli and Elli were also quite enamored of my fins and crowded me often while I watched the others in the group. Maury was in infant position first with Gracie and then with Mrs. B. Shawn was non-phased by Maury usurping his spot with Gracie and just pushed her away a bit to nurse. Alita played a bit with her calf, Dory – with a leaf and then a stick! You can see them in this image here.
After our morning data collection session, we reviewed the video and chatted about our planned innovative research study. We were able to film a brief regular training session with Alita and Gracie to confirm camera angles from the water and on-dock perspectives. I was also able to get another 15 minutes of video in the afternoon. Hard to believe but the underwater visibility was still quite good, even in the afternoon! And, there was lots of whistling from Alita, Gracie and Carmella in the afternoon.
We’ve been using the AX100 in the MVA2 and a GoPro on top. So, we’ve obtained some really neat wide angle images of the dolphins. And been able to document the social interactions between the moms and calves, as well as the older individuals. We wrapped up the day with a talk I gave to our group and a few other guests of the resort. It is always fun to chat about dolphins and our research results!
Tomorrow will bring us over the Bailey’s at 6:00 AM to take advantage of the morning high tide and make it easier for the divers in our group to access the early morning boat dive. Sleep well!
A rainy night dawned to cloudy, overcast skies that suggested the water visibility would be … murky, to be nice! But, the underwater visibility turned out to be not too bad! The adult males were outside the main pool area. So, our early AM (6:30 AM!) data collection session was focused on the adult females and juveniles and calves. It was a delight to watch Dory, Stan and Shawn, the one-year olds, zip around each other in a sort of tag while their moms stayed close by. It was fun to review the dolphin behavior we witnessed with Heather and Dee and our students as well as Regina, Marsha, Corrine, Donna and Brittany.
Calli and Polly took up the typical role that Ronnie, French, Lenca and Champ held. That is, they ushered me around the pool as cetacean escorts and played with my fins. It was a nice welcome to have Calli, Polly, Elli and the calves circle around and whistle with delight.
While a few of our group were helping me collect data on the dolphins at Bailey’s Key, our divers observed a wild group of dolphins just outside the reef. Their dives were good overall. Those that snorkeled also had a good time and saw squirrel fish, a few squid, needlefish, and many more critters.
Our afternoon wrapped up with some photo-ID video confirmation of the dolphin rake marks and watching the video to see the dolphins again!
A good day!!
Tomorrow begins at 6:15!
P.S. the photo was taken by Heather of me after a successful session!
We all arrived Saturday afternoon after relatively short flights and a REALLY long line through immigration. But, we arrived to Anthony’s Key Resort and all settled in nicely! Our group is the biggest one DCP has ever had! Our team includes diehard DCP supporters Bill, Ron, John; DCP fellow researchers Heather and Dee; DCP student collaborators Riley and Erin; past DCP student Brittany; and new DCP participant supporters Butch, Corrine, Debbie, Donna, Frank, Marjorie, Marsha, Regina, Ron, Russell, and Sonia.
We all look forward to a great week of dolphin observations and scuba diving and snorkeling, as well as maybe some interesting discussions and fun times!
P.S. this photo shows the dock walk toward dolphin observations – hurray!
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It is true – my bags seem smaller than in years past! Maybe I’m following technology’s pattern in having my gear get smaller and smaller with more years accumulated! As with our January 2017 field course, I’ve been able to streamline the MVA2 packing such that it fits into a carry-on! I still need a checked bag for my bathing suits, shorty wetsuit, and fins (etc.) but it’s nice to “travel light!” And yes, 1 checked bag and two carry-ons is “traveling light” for me when going into the field! :-)
Tomorrow, we will be on Roatan, at Anthony’s Key Resort! The weather is forecasted to be cloudy every day … but we shall see what happens. I’m hoping the weather-forecasters are incorrect! Either way, here’s to hoping for good underwater visibility and lots of observations and data collection.
Before we can start those activities … we need to get there! Our day will begin very early tomorrow, but the rainbow of the afternoon will be Roatan and the dolphins!
Cheers and stay tuned …
In a couple of days, 20 of us will be traveling from the USA to Roatan to join DCP’s next eco-tour research session at Anthony’s Key Resort in association with the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences (RIMS). I am really looking forward to this week of observations and data collection of the dolphins at RIMS! It’s been 9.5 months since we were at AKR and we have a slightly modified MVA2 system to use. A few weeks ago, John and I (mostly John) retrofitted the MVA2 with a new, tapeless camera. The camera fits into the housing but the screen will be quite difficult to see. We have a mirror in there to help me see the timecode. But, I’ll also be relying on my watch to track each 30- or 60-minute underwater observation session! You can see in this image John is checking to be sure the housing has no leaks and that the manual controls on the housing match up to the buttons on the camera. All was good!
I have to finish packing the gear and then will be ready to travel south! Stay tuned to the DCP home page for updated from the field during this autumn data collection session to Roatan.