Today was our first boat day since my arrival. Our day started around 800 to get ready for our trip and orientation. Jack went through briefly what some of the equipment we will be using throughout our stay here. The other intern’s name is Jurique from Cat Island. Found out he knows my father. Some of the benefits of being a preacher’s child: you can always find out if someone knows your family by finding out what religion/church they go to and if they know your dad.
Jack showed us the office where the data is compiled after each day and what we need to prepare. I found that I caught on the data sheets faster than inputting it into the computer. We then went out to the garage and more equipment was there including snorkel gear. My favorite, and I use that word loosely, piece would have to be the poop container. That’s right, poop container. Because if you have to collect samples, you don’t want that with the rest of your food.
Once we gathered everything, we headed out around 1051 to our first site. At this location, Diane said that they often would see dolphins. Didn’t have any luck. We then headed out to the sea to roughly 1000m of water. The instrument we used was a hydrophone. It is a tool used to listen underwater for echo location. For sperm whales, we can hear about 6 miles from the original point. Unfortunately, we did not see or hear any. After 5 minutes or so, again we headed out and every five miles repeated the hydrophone until we reached Gordon’s Cay.
Upon reaching Gordon’s Cay, we coasted along the shoreline looking for Randy, the manatee that hangs around that area. We didn’t see him, but I did see my very first turtle and several sting rays. We headed further out a little ways to the banks to the side of the cay and found two subadult dolphins. This means that they are above juveniles who still need their mother but still smaller than the full adults.
We followed them around a but trying to ID them. It is very common in animals for researches to ID them based on certain features. For example, if you study a sea turtle, you would remember/identify them based on the nicks in their body or shell coloration. For whales and other cetaceans, its on the fin.
One of the dolphins was playing ‘tag’ with a barracuda. That looked like something I would see on finding Nemo. Throughout the whole day we were having great conversations from the path to getting a PhD to video games and how they may or may not play a role in violence to talking about Finding Dory coming out next year.
On our back we were able to locate Randy. He had went the harbour where boats were docked for fresh water. There is a hose that runs from the dock to the sea and the manatee uses its lips to ‘finger’ it into its mouth. It’s so weird. The upper lips remind me of crab claws the way they pinch together to try and grab a hold of something. I even held the hose for him! Those things are strong. Don’t let their large, slow looking size deceive you. If they get startle or afraid they can swim away quickly or even almost pull you in if you are not careful with the hose.
After gazing at Randy for a while and talking with the locals on the cay, we headed back towards Sandy Point. During the journey back we hydrophoned for sperm whales and checked for dolphins at Rocky Point. Both unsuccessful.
Once we hit shore (roughly 1700), we cleaned up the equipment, did house chores and did office work again. In total 6.3 hours. Jack had said that that is a short day compared to his 10+hr days.
Tomorrow, I’m told, is our office day so we will be doing ID photos, cataloging, etc. As the days get longer while I am here, My blogs may be every other day depending on what we do or what stands out to me the most.