Reports from the Field

Dolphin Project Day 2

Day 2

Tuesday the second day on the boat we left Casamacciola for Ventotene west of Ischia. Along the way we listened for whale and dolphin noise using the hydrophobic. Gaia explained to me how the sonar worked and how to tell which direction relative to the ship the sound was coming from. Along the way we had a whale sighting not far from the boat and changed direction to get closer. The whale surfaced a few times before diving and breaching the surface. The whale stayed near the surface for longer, doing shallow dives before coming back. After it left the pictures taken of the fins showed that it was a whale the team had seen frequently in the past.

The whole team is very knowledgeable about the topic and always willing to answer the questions we have. The project is going beyond my expectations so far, and is a very exciting experience.

Day 4

Day 4 of the project we left Ventotene to go back to Ischia. After a few hours with the hydrophone in the water, we heard the whistles of striped dolphins that were nearby.

The first group we came to were about 4 dolphins surfacing far infront of the boat. When we got close enough to see them without binoculars, the dolphins would swim under the bow of the boat and surface just off to the side. The longer we followed the dolphins the more we were able to see and hear. The dolphins stayed close to the front of the boat, diving and spinning underwater. We were able to hear the whistles through the water while listening at the bow. Barbara estimated that there would likely be 50 dolphins that were in the area at the time.

Seeing the striped dolphins so close and watching them interact was an incredible experience. The sounds recorded on the sonar were so dynamic and really showed the level of vocalizations among the group.

Final Day

The final day of navigation before my week with the project ends, we left Ischia in beautiful weather and calm water after the wind and big waves from yesterday. We stayed near the island, going just passed Forio. We sailed out for a while and then stopped the motor to listen for sounds better. While the water was calm we jumped off the boat into 1000m deep water which is the deepest I’ve been in My week with the project is finishing up and the experience has been absolutely incredible.

The project’s team are all passionate about the conservation of cetaceans in the area and very knowledgeable about all the observation strategies and programs to record data. I’m very glad Į was able to come volunteer for a program like this and it’s something that I would recommend to anyone interested in conservation and the Oceans.

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Brooklyn Foucault