Summer season 2014: chronicles from the field (Episode 1)

Honestly, we didn’t remember the fieldwork to be so intense.

The first 10 days are gone and they have been so full of events, fun and adventures!

 

Facts and figures:

8 days in Samadai, 47 h observation, 8 sightings of spinners and 3 of Indopacific bottlenose dolphins, 3,500+ photos, a few presentations and educational activities, and Samadai mooring lines replaced by the HEPCA team in Marsa Alam.

๐Ÿ˜ฆ The down side: our vessel had a problem with the engine and we cannot use it anymore. Also, the wind has been pushing quite a lot lately, to an extent that trips were cancelled today.

๐Ÿ™‚ The bright side: this unanticipated day in the office gives us time to enter data, start some data processing and analysis, and write this post!

๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ The very bright side: we were awarded a second grant from the Rufford Small Grants Foundation! Our application was successful and we are infinitely grateful to all those who have worked on it with us, those who have advised and provided references. Roll up sleeves people, we have plenty of things to do!

 

But first let us show you the first days of the Red Sea Dolphin Project 2014.

Dolphins have been there every day. We recorded groups of 45-120 individuals, always mixed in age and gender classes.

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A juvenile comes close (Copyright HEPCA)

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Dolphin soup…jellyfish flavoured (Copyright HEPCA)

The newborn season has started: the first few little clumsy ones, a few day old, are already in Samadai and, seen the number of pregnant females, a few more will follow soon.

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Newborn in Samadai! (Copyright HEPCA)

We were happy to see some known fins, including โ€œSL0010โ€ and Incubo (โ€œnightmareโ€, one of our historical residents): they both fully recovered from bad injuries.

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Incubo’s recovery. Check out the video below (at 1:20-1:30) and see her before the injury (Copyright HEPCA)

We had a surreal day with absolute flat sea and dolphins moving in and out the reef.

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Spinner pod in Samadai in a very calm day (Copyright HEPCA)

We also had a very windy day with only three tourists in the site: an amazing chance for us to collect data on the behaviour of undisturbed dolphins!

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Spying on dolphins with our binoculars (Copyright HEPCA)

We really enjoyed talking about our projects to staff and students of the Anglia Ruskin University (Cambridge, UK) at the Red Sea Diving Safari in Marsa Shagra and to give a quick guided tour on the research vessel to the kids participating to the HEPCA FEEL Project.

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The FEEL project comes onboard to learn more about research methods and techniques (Copyright HEPCA)

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Amina explains field methodologies to a group of undergrads from the Anglia Ruskin University (Cambridge, UK) (Photo credit: Michaela Anselmini/Red Sea Diving Safari)

Then (bummer!) the research boat broke down and the study on human impacts had to be temporarily suspended. We would like to thank the daily boats that are hosting us in these days and allowing us to keep going to Samadai and collect information that Amina will use in her study of the population demography and social structure.

We are extremely grateful to Dr. Liz Slooten and Micol Montagna for helping with the data collection and for being amazing team members!!

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The dream team: Micol, Amina and Liz. (Copyright HEPCA)

 

The โ€œTo doโ€ list is rich and we truly believe in this project.

As you know, Boomerang for Earth Conservation launched a crowd funding campaign to help us cover our field expenses: please have a look at the page โ€œDonate now!โ€ and consider making a small donation. We have reached two thirds of the goal in the first month of the campaign, please help us share the link and the information, and keep following our web-series ๐Ÿ˜‰

Cheers,

Madda and Amina

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