The sun rose at ~5:30 AM. I was excited to head over to see the dolphins but had to make sure the camera focus was set and the O-rings properly lubed. We met at the water taxi at 6:45 and I was in the water by 7 AM. Several dolphins hung close to the platform as I donned by fins and mask and turned the camera on. I slipped into the water into the center of a dolphin tribunal! I made sure there were no leaks into the housing and when I looked up, I was face-to-face with Paya! Apparently, I have no personal space where Paya or the younger dolphins are concerned. After a minute or two, the dolphins all were off to their own interactions. At about 10 minutes into the session, Hector and Han decided my fins were the best thing ever! They mouthed them and pulled at them and were just right at my feet continually, it seemed. Gracie brought Tilly over to meet me and Mika had Polly and Mac and swam by me a few times. The “new” young animals range in age from 3 months to about 1.5 yrs old. They were quite inquisitive and swam circles around me and at me, though we had no games of “chicken” today. I did see much pec fin rubbing and nudging one another.
I recorded almost 30 minutes before 7:30 AM and then went back at 9:30 for a second session. Hector, Han, Paya and Ronnie were engaged in other activities outside of the main pool area. So, I had the second session with only 15 dolphins – mostly the adult females and their offspring. It was a blast! The youngsters were quite inquisitive and swam very close to the camera – putting their face next to the front plate, buzzing me and checking everything out. I saw all of the adult females a few times: Cedeña has a new notch in her dorsal fin, but all her other marks are the same. There were numerous whistles and clicks and buzzes.
Before coming to RIMS, John and I updated the MVA2 with a different set of hydrophones and repositioned a camera into the housing. The latter required a new control knob. Everything worked great! And, the audio sounds awesome!
We’ll have more data collection sessions tomorrow and will also deploy the SM2M passive acoustic recorder tomorrow (made by www.wildlifeacoustics.com). We’ll leave the SM2M deployed for 4-5 days and record audio day and night to see if there is a pattern to the dolphin vocal behavior.
Kathleen & the DCP RIMS 2013 team