Monique, Cindy, Judy, Romy, Bridge, and Amy on final morning of the project
What I learned about Dolphin Behaviors

The two weeks were an amazing learning experience in many ways.

From now on, whenever I will read about animal behavior, I will know how much work and research has to happen before any conclusions can be made. And I also will know that for every good photo of an animal, there were so many photos taken that were blurry and not very good.

I've also realized how patient researchers need to be because so much information needs to be collected before anything can concluded. It was so frustrating for me to collect some of this data especially when the weather was bad.

Any animal, but especially marine animals like dolphins, is hard to observe in all aspects of their lives. For example, dusky dolphins feed at night. Since our observations were during the day, I never saw dolphins engaging in this behavior even though they do catch the occasional fish near the surface during the day. We can only find out what some marine mammals eat by examining the stomach contents of dead ones, rather than watching them eat.

When the dolphins are TRAVELLING they can move quite fast for short distances "porpoising" over the water going in the same direction as each other but not performing leaps and splashes. In a photo the dolphins would all be traveling in the same direction often doing the same movement at the same time and you would see lots of dorsal fins.

When the dolphins are RESTING they seem to swim gently and lazily just surfacing enough to breathe then going under again. They may be swimming close to the surface making little splash when breathing. They often seem to rest in a milling group.

The dolphins seem to play at times. They loop pieces of kelp seaweed around their dorsal fins, drop it off then gather up again.

It is probably too early to say exactly how the dolphins behave at all times in the Kaikoura area but the data being collected by Amy and Cindy will add to this knowledge. The effects of eco- tourism that doesn't—hopefully—interfere with the animals natural behavior and habitat) on the dolphins is being closely monitored but, at present, the boats and swimmers don't seem to cause any major stress on the dolphins. With limits on the number of boats allowed near them and the two-hour time when no boats should be near the dolphins should help to reduce the human impact.

The project monitoring dolphin behavior will probably continue for several years yet before any conclusions on dolphin behaviors and the influence of humans on them can be reached.

Now you have read the field reports, your next step is Meet an Explorer