Today , I have returned from Perth to start another six-month field season off the Big Island of Hawaii. While I was away, Kim New, from Duke University, has been doing a great job in running the field work for me. Thanks Kim!
During the next six months (until January 2012), our field work will continue to focus on boat-based photo-identification and acoustic recordings of spinner dolphins in the four resting bays (Kauhako Bay, Honaunau Bay, Kealakekua Bay and Makako Bay) together with group focal follows.
In addition, we will now also be carrying out theodolite tracking of the movements and behaviour of spinner dolphins and boats in two of these bays. A theodolite is a surveyors instrument. It will be placed on local cliff tops overlooking the bays and be used to track dolphins by converting angles of declination into latitude and longitude coordinates using standard trigonometric functions.
Theodolite surveys provide detailed information on the habitat use of groups of resting and non-resting spinner dolphins, including geographic location, movement patterns and closest observed approaches in relation to human presence in the bays. Luckily, I have six research assistants to help me – there is lots to do!