The last session was not in the cards – even though the day presented no wind and clear visibility to the bottom from above the water! Our departure for the airport was in the morning.

This was a very successful trip with 7 hours of MVA data collected. There are 24 dolphins – 13 males and 11 females ranging in age from 1 to 30+ years. Carmella, Gracie and Mika are pregnant and due sometime in the summer. There was much play and many rake marks, which means we’ll have some really good sketches to use when processing our video ID logs for these data.

John will be creating a summary video from our trip and I’ll post the link to that video in a field report later this month on the DCP web site. He was able to capture some really cool video of the underwater world and the critters who call it home.

The DCP 2011 summer interns and I will be processing these data during the coming months. Stay tuned to the Dolphin Gazette for updates as we log the tapes and process details for our research. Also, Bill and I are arranging the dates for DCP’s visit to RIMS & AKR in 2012. We have a couple of new plans for our next season to Roatan … stay tuned and we’ll keep you informed in the coming months.

As with each visit, DCP extends a big thank you to the Galindo family and the staff at AKR and RIMS for making our stay so successful.

Cheers

Kathleen

Friday began with overcast skies but spectacular underwater visibility, again. The divers on our team (Bill, Ron, Madison & John) took the early trip to Mary’s Place for a morning of diving. Lisa helped me with data collection in the morning. I was able to collect 40 min of observations before Ronnie’s interest in my fins and Marg’s interest in my arms and shoulders meant it was time to get out. It seems I was a bit of a toy this morning!

I planned for a second observation session and was able to get 20 min in with all but Hector, Paya, Ritchie and Bill before a downpour greeted us. Lisa and I waited another 20 min to see if I could get back in but it was not to be. Still, the second session brought a lack of interest in me and the MVA and more socializing among the dolphins. They were quite vocal – lots of whistles and clicks.

Our team had their second dolphin swim at noon and the dolphins were just as playful with them as earlier in the week. Bill (DCP team member, not the dolphin) played the sea grass game with the dolphins. Ron said it seemed as though Bill was conducting an orchestra – moving the sea grass blade back and forth with dolphin heads diligently following his hand!

The afternoon was filled with dolphin discussions – behavior and sound meanings and also with rinsing and packing gear for our flights tomorrow. I’ll check flight times to see if I might be able to squeeze in a last session …

Cheers

Kathleen & the DCP RIMS 2011 team

 

The mantra for this morning’s session in the observation notes related to the indecipherable mumbling I made through my snorkel. The session was lively and the weather the best of the week with spectacular underwater visibility! But, it was also characterized by Hector’s intensive interest in my fins! He would not leave them alone. I found myself inadvertently telling him to stop through my snorkel. Dolphins, like humans, seem unable to translate snorkel mumbles because he never did lose interest in my fins. I focused on other dolphins and their socializing – much buzzing, whistles, and social activity. I was able to record ~45 min beginning at 6:30 AM.

Our team had a dolphin dive to join at 8:00 AM. They were joining four other guests, a dive master, a trainer and Hector and Paya for a dive to 45 ft (~15 m). Hector paid no attention to their fins … maybe his favorite color is green!

I was able to collect another hour of video in two sessions: a short 15 min swim with Ken, Anthony and French and a 40 min session with all but the adult males. During the former, Maury buzzed and bubbled at the three young males and then sped away. They responded in kind. Very exciting happenings!

The afternoon was spent with data transcription (slates to pages) and review of a bit of video. Ron, Madison and Lisa joined the zip-line trip and slid through the trees at high speed. John took “crab-cam” (aka “tide-pool cam”) over to video the mangroves and tide-pool critters. He received a bit more sun … but then we all have today!

Tomorrow is our last day of data collection, unless I can sneak in a session at 6:30 AM Sat.

Cheers

Kathleen & the DCP RIMS 2011 team

 

 

Our evening was punctuated by rain squalls that did not really lessen in number or scope until about 7 AM. So, we did not have a data collection session at 6:30 AM but rather waited until mid-morning to catch a few sessions with dolphins in the back area pools while programs were ongoing in the lagoon. I was able to record 8 minutes with Han and Hector and get some really clear views of their sides. Hector does not present his right side to me, though.

The second session was with Maury, Fiona (pictured checking us out before entry), Margarita and Bailey. John got in at the same time and we both recorded for 30 min! Thankfully, he was their toy during this session and my fins remained mostly unscathed.

We also recorded another tandem create training session with Teri. It was very neat to watch (record) Marg and Bailey work together to create new behaviors.

Our afternoon was spent on data analysis – reviewing the videotapes from today and Monday. I also started the sketches for ID purposes.

The divers on our DCP RIMS 2011 team did the morning dive to visit the wreck “Odyssey”. Apparently, in the last couple of years it was tweaked on its sides by a few storms. This vessel lies in 110 feet (~32 m) of water, so you can imagine the strength of the storm! Bill was our diehard diver and did three dives today – the second two to different reefs.

Our evening finished off with a BBQ and a display of crab races and a fire dance.

Tomorrow will bring us another early morning data collection session … assuming the rains hold off and the visibility is good. We’ve lucked out so far and I hope it holds!

Cheers

Kathleen & the DCP RIMS 2011 team

 

Today, my fingers and toes were wrinkled after much time in the water! The morning session was 30 min long but with EXCEPTIONALLY good underwater visibility! It was 5-6 m but very clear. And, there were dolphins greeting me as I entered the water. In fact, they almost barred my entry because they were so close. French loved my fins today and spent ~20 min with one or both fin tips in his mouth! Even after I put my feet in the air, he was back to my fins as soon as they were back into the water. I did my best to ignore him and document other dolphins’ behavior.

 

A few times it seemed like every other dolphin (24 in total) was watching French and me. Otherwise, the dolphins were all social with each other: Ronnie, Dixon and Vin were rolling all over each other. Mrs. Beasley (Vin’s mom) watched the game and intervened only once or twice.

 

After breakfast, the DCP team went on the two morning dives while John and I returned to Bailey’s Key to film record some training sessions with Teri. From under water, we recorded Han & Ritchie and Marge & Bailey as they practiced “together-create”. In short, they had to do the same behavior together and it had to be “new”. Very neat stuff … and it was cool to watch them communicate and decide what to do and who would lead.

 

The afternoon was spent reviewing the video shot in the morning and chatting about dolphin communication. We had a great day!

Tomorrow begins again early … a good thing when the sun rises at about 5:15 AM!

 

Cheers

Kathleen

We had a great Monday with two data collection sessions and several dives for our team! The morning session brought much better underwater visibility with me entering the water at about 6:45 AM. The dolphins were very vocal and very social. Ken and Anthony thought my fins were the best toy in the world! They mouthed my fins and poked at my feet. Not something I encouraged but I did my best to ignore them.

The second session had slightly less visibility under water but no less social activity. The males were in smaller subgroups and very tactile and much rubbing and noise ensued during my observation session. Ritchie was with Han and Bill most often and was also making pop sounds while the others sort of squawked. Whistles were everywhere it seemed. Luckily, my fins were less interesting and so I was able to watch the activity a bit more out of range of the prying playful nature of the dolphins.

During each session the 1 and 2 yr old dolphins took several passes and looked into the front port. Paya, the oldest male, even positioned himself directly in front of my lens once and then pressed his body against my left side ...

Our DCP team joined most of the other guests at AKR and visited Maya Key for a picnic from about 10 am to 3:30 pm. They took the dive boat over and did several dives there and back. The winds picked up, as they have been doing each afternoon, and so their ride was a bit bumpy, but still enjoyable.

Tomorrow, we have another early morning session and an afternoon of data review and dolphin sketch drawings.

Until then, cheers

Kathleen and the DCP 2011 RIMS team

Our day began EARLY (5 AM) but because it was warm and light, it was ok! The sun makes its daily appearance at about 4:45 AM. Ron, Bill, John and I all sat on the porch and chatted over a strong morning coffee. We also showed each other our new camera toys (ok, mine is still the MVA, but they had new toys).

Our team had a dolphin encounter/swim at 9 AM and got to know Bailey, a 5.5 yr old female. Cedena is Bailey's and Pigeon's mom. For the first time since I've been visiting here, Cedena was covered in rake marks - her head/melon had them from Alita. And her peduncle was covered from rakes by Hector and Ritchie. Not that I can identify the maker of a rake mark, but the trainers saw the scuffles the dolphins got in that resulted in these rakes. She is really easy to ID from a distance now.

After the swim, Bill, Ron, John and Madison went SCUBA diving - they dove a wall and saw a turtle and lots of fish. Lisa and I got the MVA ready for use after the noon program. The underwater visibility was not great but I spent about 27 min recording the dolphins and seeing them up close. VERY close in some cases. I think almost every one of them (except Carmella and Mrs B) came close for a look to confirm that yes ... it was that human with the green tube! Paya appeared out of the haze and just stopped to examine his eyeball in the front plate. Hector was more interested in Maury than me but Ritche and Han made several close inspections. And the 1-2 yr olds were VERY inquisitive and zoomed circles around me.

I look forward to better visibility under water tomorrow for more clear views. While our team was having their encounter, I sketched each dolphin during the training sessions. Mostly I was documenting the detailed rake marks that were new. This way I would increase my underwater recognition of them. Worked pretty well. I still have to make better more complete sketches from the video, but this was a good start.

We'll collect data before 8 AM tomorrow and then maybe do a dolphin dive. I'll keep you posted.

Cheers from Roatan!

Kathleen and the 2011 RIMS DCP team

 

Our day began at 01:30 (AM), with a drive to the airport followed by a wait for TSA to open and then check in. Luckily, we slept on the plane. We had a stop in Houston and then a direct flight to Roatan. The flight to Roatan was shorter and we were excited to get to the island. Both flights were full! We cleared immigration and customs and got our bags to the fellow we thought was from Anthony's Key Resort. Turns out he was just an airport representative. So, our bags stayed at the airport for about 3 extra hours! They arrived and both John and I were able to get our housings unpacked and set up.

 

It was also nice to see Bill, Ron, and Madison again. Lisa, Madison's mom, joined the group, too. Bill had two extra days on island while the other three arrived on the earlier flight from us. This trip has been like "coming home" so far. Participants who've been DCP supporters since the mid-1990s and a location (Roatan) where I've been studying dolphins for 9 years!

 

I did not get to Bailey's Key today but plan to head over tomorrow to see the dolphins. There are 24 now! I'll confirm the new rake scars and interactions tomorrow and fill you in on the group. I must admit that I LOVE the warmer temps and weather. John said this winter that there are three things that do not mix for dealing with morning, especially in winter ... cold, dark and early. I doubt we'll have to deal with them tomorrow!

 

Cheers

Kathleen, John, Bill, Ron, Madison & Lisa - the DCP RIMS 2011 team

 

Well, not all of DCP is returning to Roatan in 2 days, but I will be traveling to the island and visiting RIMS and AKR to continue DCP's studies of the group of bottlelnose dolphins that call Bailey's Key home. If you remember from the fall field reports, our planned trip to Roatan in September 2010 was postponed because of Hurricane Matthew! The resort and most of the island was closed because of the weather and DCP had to reschedule our eco-tour for that last week of September. We were able to coordinate and reschedule for the first week of May!

So, I will spend the rest of this afternoon packing the MVA and associated cables, camera and other gear as well as my mask, fins, snorkel and bathing suit. John from Terramar Productions will join this week of data collection. Additionally, Bill, Ron and he two nieces will meet us at Anthony's Key Resort. I am very much looking forward to a return to Roatan and to observing the dolphins. From chatting with Stan and other colleagues who have visited since my last trip (in January 2010), Alita had a calf and there are a few pregnant females.

I'll keep you posted about our week of data collection and observations. So, this coming week, you can read about DCP's research at two locations - Bimini and Roatan! Being busy ... must mean the summer is upon us!

Cheers

Kathleen

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