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Lunch break

Summer 2008 Earthwatch Season Begins.

Earthwatch Team

The summer Earthwatch season has started sucessfully, with a fantastic team staying at the research centre. We got out on the water every day, a total of 9 days, covering 381.9 nautical miles.

The team experienced 12 encounters with Atlantic Bottlenose dolphins of the inshore type (Tursiops truncatus), and a single sighting of a Dwarf Sperm Whale (Kogia sima).

Looking for dolphins. Matching photographs in the office. Resting between encounters.

The groups of dolphins that were documented ranged in group size from 1 to 17, with a mean group size of 7.2 animals. There were 14 sightings of calves. Lots of social behaviours were observed: a mother-calf pair surfing with the calf in echelon position, a calf repeatedly swimming upside down at the surface, aggressive mating and fighting, and both known foraging behaviours for our population, crater feeding for razor fish, and corraling jacks onto shallow banks.

Due to less than perfect weather conditions, that is a Beaufort sea state of 3 or more, for the majority of the teams' stay, only 1 random line transect was completed. On the 5th leg of the transect that comprised a total of 6 legs, Bottlenose dolphins were spotted at Rocky Point, an area of preferred habitat for these animals.

Sperm whales were heard acoustically with a handheld hydrophone from the boat, and using a simple directional hydrophone, an approximate position was estimated. The whales were never found however.

Special thanks to one of our summer volunteer staff members, Natalie Ashford-Hodges, for putting this story together.

News archives:
December 2008 - Staff Update
November 2008 - SPEC Update
October 2008 - Dolphins
Aug and Sep 2008 - Field work
July 2008 - Spotted Dolphins
June 2008 - Earthwatch Season
May 2008 - SURVEY
Apr 2008 - Stranding Workshop
March 2008 - Acoustic Project
February 2008 - Bryde's stranding
Dec 2007 / Jan 2008 - Conferences

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