We've had a few big changes in the last few days! Monica left the field to travel back to Scotland, where she graduated from St. Andrews with her graduate degree today. Congrats, Monica, and thank you for all of your help!!!
4Yesterday, we had a great fund-raising event at World of Beer in Gainesville-Tioga. We had a busy few days leading up to the event to prep everything. Our biggest endeavor was making a dolphin fish-toss game by hand. Some of the team dedicated themselves to painting a dolphin board, while others hand-made beanie fish. Who knew that dolphin research required arts and crafts skills?! We also created a dolphin trivia game that was a huge hit with the patrons at the bar! We want to say a HUGE thank you to World of Beer for being great hosts and providing trivia/raffle prizes, and Funky Buddha for also providing prizes for our games! We had a lot of fun telling people about our work at this event and raised over $400 to support the project field-work efforts. Thank you so much to everyone who came out to support us and generously donated to the project!
Every day when we launch from Waccasassa, we travel down the river then have the option once we reach the mouth to travel north towards Cedar Key, or south towards Crystal River. The last few days out have been beautiful, with glassy-calm conditions in the morning, so either direction has been an option. This has meant that finding dolphins is up to our guess-work and luck; we choose the right direction and hit a jackpot some days with lots of dolphin sightings, while we strike out other days and drive for hours without a single sighting. We call the former “dolphin soup” and the latter a “dolphin desert”! The bright-side of less dolphins is that we have the opportunity to appreciate the other residents of the Waccasassa River/Bay. So far, our encounters have included gators, fresh-water turtles, manatees, juvenile sea turtles, sharks, southern stingrays, cownose rays, tarpon, sturgeon, pelicans, and osprey. And we’ve seen plenty of jumping mullet during DB foraging, of course! We’ve even had a cheeky pelican try to steal fish during DB bouts (bottom-right picture)! While we have been excited to meet all the neighbors, here’s hoping we have more jackpot days and have many more sightings and DB bouts in the near future! Stay tuned for more!
Today we had a full day out with beautiful weather... and we saw Driver-Barrier behavior for the first time on the water!!
It was very exciting seeing Prop, an animal also seen driving last year, complete almost 10 bouts of driver behavior in an hour! For one bout, a buddy helped him by performing the role of barrier to make it proper DB. After an hour of video and audio recording, Prop was full and decided to move on, while we came home very satisfied with how the day transpired! You can see Prop with a fish at the end of a driver bout in the picture below. We're excited to get out and see more, but for now, we are all very exhausted from the excitement of today and need to catch some sleep so we can do it all again tomorrow!