We made it! Our field work season has started!
Like in a puzzle where eventually all the pieces fall together to form the picture, so after a long waiting, for the boat, the marina, the fuel, we are finally starting the field work. Patience and determination always pays off.
And what a start!
First time out and within 20 minutes from the exit of the marina on our first transect we had a sighting! Over 20 Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins including one calf and one juvenile and surprisingly among them one individual, named Paso, that had been already sighted in April by a group of canoeist (Dubai Outriggers Canoe Club) that kindly reported the sighting with a video. So thanks to them we have our first mark recapture data!
Paso is a dolphin clearly recognisable because his dorsal fin has been somehow been cut.
The interesting thing is that also other adult individuals sighted were clearly marked. This means that if re-encountered we will be able to recognise them.
Far too much to process in one shot! We hope that this won’t be the “beginner’s luck” but that will only be the first of many sightings to come.
The field work implies the conduction of a transect survey. This means navigating on predetermined routes over a define area of sea at a constant speed, with calm sea and with at least two skilled observers on board. The routes are designed to ensure that the surface will be homogeneously scanned by eye.
Once dolphins are sighted the transect is interrupted and the sighting starts.
During the sighting we identify the species, we collect information about number of individuals, group composition, and we take photos of the fins of each individual.
After the sighting is terminated we return to our transect route and proceed forward.
The data collected in the field allow us to understand the occurrence, estimate the abundance and the seasonality of the dolphins in this area. The photo-identification data allow us to track the dolphins across the area and understand whether these dolphins migrate or are resident in these waters.
As you have seen with the case of Paso… everyone can contribute to this target! Please keep posting your sighting and make an effort to take pictures and post them to us! You soon may recognise some known faces… or better fins!