We had a very wet data collection session, which yielded data sheets that were soaked through. But, we could recognize several of the individual dolphins. We could chat among ourselves to confirm some of the markings and so learned a few new dolphins by their scars and marks.
After breakfast, we spent time reviewing the video from Sunday morning. Caitlyn did not think they made that much noise when underwater but there was a lot of noise from them on the video. And, watching the video of dolphins it seemed to require more mobility than when Julia tried the MVA in the pool yesterday.
We visited Maya Cay today. We got to learn about the Mayan culture and toured the replica ruins with the inclusion of a real Mayan ball court. This court is an arena for a ball game played by ancient Mayans. The leader of the losing team of the game was often sacrificed to the gods.
We also got to tour the rescue zoo of confiscated, rescued, rehabilitated exotic animals; for example, there was a jaguar, a few mountain lions, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, capuchins, American crocodiles, numerous birds and a few reptiles. After observing the animals, we entered the food chain by taking our first coastal snorkel. The water temp was 79°F but it felt a tad chilly. Edwin was our snorkel guide and he showed us many colorful fish: barracuda, lobster, peacock angelfish, blue tangs, disco fish, indigo hamlets, groupers, brain coral and sea fans. Of course, snorkeling allowed our appetites to grow and lunch was welcome and delicious! A short post-prandial relaxation period (a nice little nap) followed lunch before we returned to AKR. The excursion of the snorkel session required a relaxing afternoon.
A belated Happy Birthday to Matthew (Heather’s now 16-year-old son) and an early Happy Birthday to Nate (Dee’s husband) and to Dixie, the mini seabeagle (6 years old tomorrow).
Tomorrow is our dolphin swim adventure. Let’s hope it is not raining!
Lauren (#1), Kenna, Caitlyn, Lauren (#2), Casey, Julia, Serena, Delany, Cailey, Macy (like the store), and Chandra (the CSU crew) with supporting roles from Shane, Kathleen, Heather, Dee, & Maria
We each had varied travel experiences to get to Roatan from the USA. The CSU students with their intrepid professor (Dr. K) arrived without incident, which was good since they began travel at about 02:30 AM. Dee, Heather and Maria each had uneventful trips from Miami and Houston, respectively. I, on the other hand, had a never-before experience: my first flight was delayed because the pilots got locked out of the cockpit. (Not sure where they left their keys!) I received the last standby seat on the next flight to Atlanta and made my connecting flight to Roatan. My checked bag, however, decided to stay a night in Atlanta. I’ve never been so glad to have the MVA as a carry-on!
We had a great first afternoon with a RIMS/AKR orientation from Jennifer, a delicious dinner and then a wrap up chat about the research, the MVA and the plans for tomorrow. We did the evening chat with the ambiance of rain, which is still falling. We hope it will clear in the morning as we will start observations at 6:45 AM.
Tomorrow’s post will be from the student team! Stay tuned!
Kathleen with Heather, Dee, Marie and the CSU crew!
Tomorrow, January 6th, I will travel south to Roatan, specifically to Anthony’s Key Resort (AKR) for two weeks of data collection on the dolphins at the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences (RIMS). I’ll be joined by two groups of students for a week each. Our first week will also include a few colleagues for the continuation of the dolphin innovate/create study. (More on each of these topics in the next day or two.)
Personally, I’m very much looking forward to observing the dolphins and recording their social behavior and vocalizations. Each visit is like catching up with old friends (who also include the trainers and other folks at AKR/RIMS!). The added incentive for my strong desire to travel farther south today, in particular, is the REALLY cold weather we are having in Florida! It was 34°F (1°C) this morning!
For the next couple of weeks, stay tuned to regular (daily) updates on our research progress, the dolphins, and of course, the field course. Each group of students will help me write the field notes/blog update, beginning Sunday (Jan 7th) night. Here’s hoping we have warm, sunny weather, good underwater visibility, intricate social interactions (among the dolphins!), and lively, engaging discussion on a variety of topics with the students!
DCP Master’s student Nicole Danaher-Garcia shares her experience presenting to an awesome New Bedford, MA middle school. Enjoy!
On Tuesday, December 19th, I visited a local New Bedford, MA, middle school, having been invited by the Head of School to present to her students. The school, called Our Sisters’ School, is pretty unique. It is a not-for-profit private school with only four classes, one in each grade 5-8. The school only accepts low-income girls from the New Bedford area, and each student must be very motivated since the school-day is 11 hours long! The head of the school calls this having “the eye of the tiger.” And it was very noticeable that these girls are excited to learn. They were all smiles from the moment I stepped into the room, and became even more excited when I began talking about dolphins.
Before diving into the more scientific part of my presentation, I told the girls about how I got to where I am. I really wanted to impress upon them that there are tons of people out there who are willing to help and provide opportunities; all it takes is a simple email to get the ball rolling. That’s how it was for me—after discovering DCP, it was a single email to Kathleen Dudzinski that opened the door for me to become a volunteer, then an intern, then a field assistant, and now a student with her own project. I hope that my story really inspired the girls to keep their eyes open for opportunities and to jump at them when they appear.
After my brief personal history, I taught the girls a Word of the Day (a requirement of Morning Speaker presentations). My word was “cetaceans,” the term that encompasses whales, dolphins and porpoises. I then briefly described my focal species (the Atlantic spotted dolphin), how to determine dolphin sex and age, some of the threats that dolphins face in the wild, as well as how behavioral research can help humans mitigate those threats. The students were so engaged, asking so many questions and offering comments. I felt as if I could have talked with them all day, so much so that I ran over my time-allotment!
I’m so happy I was presented with the opportunity to engage with local students, and especially grateful to have had the chance to motivate them about dolphins and scientific research. I hope to have similar opportunities in the future, and I plan to tell my UMass Dartmouth peers about my presentation in the hopes that they will be interested in sharing their stories with these girls (and maybe other local students).
Until next time,
Fulfilling the Honor’s component to her Honor’s Biology class at Indian River State College, DCP volunteer and intern, Tori Meyer, presented her project on Dolphin Communication to fellow Honors students and faculty. Part review of Kathleen Dudzinski and Christine Ribic’s 2017 publication, “Pectoral Fin Contact as a Mechanism for Social Bonding among Dolphins,” and part general discussion around past and present DCP research efforts, Tori’s presentation covered the subject of dolphin communication methods, focusing on tactile contacts between bottlenose dolphins in the RIMS facility, as well as tactile contacts among the wild population of Atlantic Spotted dolphins around Bimini, the Bahamas. Eager to continue her contribution to DCP’s ongoing research efforts in any way she’s able to, Tori is a passionate advocate for the Dolphin Communication Project, and was grateful for this opportunity to share her passion and experience in an academic setting.
This quarter's issue is pretty packed: holiday specials, an update from Master's student Nicole, introduction of "Vee," updates from SMM conference, a fun coloring page and more! Which entry will be your favorite?
Thanks for reading - and sharing! Click here to download your copy now.
Become a Dolphin Communication Project member this holiday season and receive TWO free gifts!
Membership Bonus - Gift #1
Give the gift of DCP membership - and receive “Fancy Goat!” Your generosity is the lifeblood of our organization, and we could not operate without it. You can become a member of the Dolphin Communication Project by making a one-time donation or becoming a Sustaining Member via a monthly contribution (sign-up links below). It is a great way to honor someone else this holiday season! The first 12 memberships* received will receive a copy of the children's picture book Fancy Goat by Jeremy Holmes and DCP’s own, Justin Gregg. Outside the Lines Press has donated these books to DCP - thank you! In this fantastic children’s book, a young girl laments her pet’s “need” for an extravagant lifestyle. From wearing cravats, top hats, and pearls to doing ballet, flying planes, and having his own masseuse, the hapless run-of-the-mill goat embarks on lavish adventures in the finest of wardrobes. While supplies last. Learn more about Fancy Goat at this link. *Offer applies to one-time memberships at the individual level and above, and sustaining memberships at all levels.
Membership Bonus - Gift #2
Marine Life Notecards for ALL Sustaining Memberships! When DCP can count on small donations, every month, throughout the year, we can work with confidence that we’ll stay afloat. Become a Sustaining Member today and receive a bonus back of marine life notecards.
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Free PDF book with all adoptions! Choose from over 20 different Atlantic spotted dolphins. Receive a personalized adoption certificate, photos, videos and more. $30 (e-kit) or $35 (hard copy) All adoption orders received between now and 31 December 2017, will receive a special “Reflections from DCP” PDF book (electronic only) filled with shared memories from the DCP team and long-time supporters. Follow this link to adopt your dolphin: www.adoptawilddolphin.com
Holiday Campaign Donate
#GivingTuesday donations really add up - in 2016, PayPal users donated a record-setting $48 million on this global day of giving.
To help maximize the benefits to the Dolphin Communication Project, head to our special PayPal Holiday Page www.paypal.com/fundraiser/charity/179108 so that 101% of your donation - made through 31 December - will be delivered to DCP!
One of my favorite events of the year is our field course with Sacred Heart University (SHU). Taught by Dr. Deirdre Yeater and held at our Bimini, The Bahamas field site, this course brings SHU and non-SHU students to study wild Atlantic spotted and bottlenose dolphins. Mornings are filled with class lectures and discussions and afternoons are spent at sea, searching for and observing dolphins. It's exciting for me; most students have never seen a wild dolphin, certainly not under water. And watching students go from sitting and listening to scientists talk about dolphins to being the ones collecting data - real data that DCP will use - is so rewarding. The application period for this field class closes 15 December so get your application in! Learn more at this link and this link.