I support the research efforts of the Dolphin Communication Project by documenting their international scientific and educational field programs and producing the media associated with those study and education programs.
This study in Roatan Honduras, will provide extensive underwater observations on dolphin behaviors, association patterns, and social interactions in both wild and captive habitats, following a protocol of focal animal follows and an all-occurrence behavior sampling technique (Altmann, 1974; Martin & Bateson, 1986).
A twelve-year database currently exists on two study populations of free-ranging dolphins: Bahamas’ Atlantic spotted dolphins and bottlenose dolphins around Mikura Island, Japan. These data will be used for comparison purposes since we will follow the same protocol as for previous data collection. Observations on both wild dolphin groups will continue on a seasonal basis. Real-time behavioral observations will be enhanced with video and sound recordings to study dynamics of inter-animal relations, associations, and the social structure of dolphins.
Videography permits the documentation of subtle within-group signaling of dolphins underwater, where they spend the majority of their time. Observations on the captive bottlenose dolphins at RIMS will be conducted while swimming in the same pen as the dolphins and from surface platforms for above-water, simultaneous documentation of behavior and activity. Surface observations of the bottlenose dolphins at RIMS will follow both opportunistic and scan focal animal sampling protocols. Scan samples will be conducted when underwater observers are not in the water. Opportunistic focal sampling will be conducted when underwater observers are present with a focus on following individuals in close proximity to the underwater observer. General behaviors as well as those directed towards the observer will be documented in an attempt to control for the presence of the swimmer.