Squid Beaks and Sperm Poo!!

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Several pods of the Pan Tropical Spotted dolphin made its way towards us once we saw them heading back to shore. They decided to take us on an adventure and ride our bow.

For the past 3 days, we have had land days. Sunday was our day of rest and boy, did I rest. I spent the whole day out being a tourist on the beach. Sitting in a hammock with a good book (I finished it that night), and enjoying the sun creep over the sky to its setting. Beautiful.

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Taking down information such as location, species spotted, etc.

Monday and Tuesday were both office days. If I am not a professional at scanning by now then I don’t know what. Many researchers, including myself for my Masters, take both hard copy data and electronic. That is, once we take the immediate information on our papers we transfer them to the computer and back that information up two to three times. It saves a lot of work in the long run because we can look up that information quickly by typing in the search field what we are looking for or the time frame. It also helps to secure all the data so if there is a storm or fire (Lord forbid) then the hard drives can be taken and all the years of information is safe. They can always be reprinted and filed as before.

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Scooping up nearby faeces with a thin net.

We launched the boat from the nearby dock that was surrounded by mangroves. Interestingly enough, it was near where my parents had stayed while they were here in Abaco. I have to say, the weirdest and crappiest job we have is collecting, well, crap. The proper term would be faeces.

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After a sperm whale flukes, there are fluke prints [small eddies] in its wake. This si the best time to look for samples. Searching for faeces that we spotted after the sperm whale fluked. We even got a skin sample that floated up top!

So when the sperm whale defecates (poops), there are either smalls clouds, chunks, or good size chunks. The larger chunks are what we want. Jack jumps/slides into the water with his snorkel and goes swimming around looking for chunks of faeces surrounding the boat. The other on the boat keep an eye on him and other floating bits. Sometimes they sink so he dives down to them. He does this ‘unique’ fapping motion with his hands where he beats the surface of the water if there is a chunk after he collects enough sample pots. This motion cause the chunk to dissolve and separate. If there are any squid beaks or interesting solids, they are scooped up.

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Net full of squid beaks that was seived through the net.

There was one sperm whale that we found today. We were actually looking for Blainville Beaked Whales and this guy popped in the corner of our eyes at this site. Found some squid beaks that looked pretty cool.

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Calf [baby dolphin] jumping out of water to greet us.

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Needed this picture!! Proof that I was there.

As we were driving around near Gorda’s Cay, we came across several pods of dolphins. They are called Pan Tropical Spotted dolphins. They were jumping around, blowing bubbles, riding our bow and…and…getting a little frisky with each other.

All in the day of a scientist: sperm whale poop, squid beaks, and dolphins having a go at each other.

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