15 January 2018

Our Sun Dance Worked … until evening!

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URI group URI group J Richard

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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