Interview with Judy Evans

Student: Why did you be come an Ocean Life explorer?

Judy: I became an explorer because the project sounded really exciting. I always enjoy learning about animals and their lives and this seemed a great way to do this by getting involved in real research. I learned heaps about dolphins

Student: How many species of dolphins are there?

Judy: There are approx. 38 species of dolphin. We can't say exactly as new species are often being discovered.

Student: How do dolphins communicate?

Judy: Dolphins communicate by making series of clicking sounds: some make squeaks and other sounds. They also touch each other when socializing.

Student: Where did dolphins get there sonars from?

Judy: The dolphins have a fatty deposit in the front of their head called a melon. This is used in echolocation - the system of sounds they use to locate items in the water. The sounds are sent out and the sound waves come back and are identified in the melon and the messages are sent to the brain. This is what the scientists think at the moment.

Student: Have you seen any dolphins bringing their newborns to the surface of the water? Do the female dolphins share care of the young dolphins with the male dolphins?

Judy: No. I didn't see any newborn calves, but I did see some dolphins who were several months old. I understand that the mothers share the care with other females or aunties at times.

Student: What did you find the most exciting about your trip?

Judy: The most exciting part was actually getting out in the boat and getting so close to so many of the dolphins every time we went out (and a real plus for me was not being seasick too!)
It was also really great to meet Dr. Bernd Wursig who knows SO much about the dolphins and then actually seeing them behave in the way he described and understanding a little about why they behaved like that. It was great to see the other animals too like the seabirds, seals and even a fleeting glance of a lone little blue penguin way out at sea.

Student: Was it hard to see the dolphins when they are swimming? They seem to be moving so fast!

Judy: Yes it was hard to concentrate on one dolphin I don’t know how Amy and Cindy were so good at taking fin photos! But the dolphins came very close to the boat and swam under and around us a lot - even splashing us at times. We would always slow right down to avoid injury from the propeller.
They swim very close to the surface and as the water was so clear we could easily see their markings and could see the difference between the Dusky Dolphins and the common ones. Amy told us we would get really good at spotting fin markings We did pointing out 1,2,3,or 4 notches around the boat!

Student: Why is it important to understand dolphin behaviors?

Judy: It is important to understand dolphin behaviors so that we understand why and how they use their habitat and to try to minimize the way that humans affect the way dolphins live. If we can avoid damaging the feeding and breeding grounds by pollution of lots of boat traffic we can help the dolphins survive.
In Kaikoura in New Zealand the dolphin boats carrying tourists have a voluntary time off of 2 hours for the dolphins when no boats go out to them This gives the dolphins a break

Student: I want to know what dolphins eat.

Judy: Dolphins are carnivorous that means that they eat fish and squid. Some like the orca eat smaller sea mammals such as smaller dolphins and seals too.

Student: What advice would you give to students who want to study dolphins?

Judy: Try to read good, well written books and articles and there are some excellent videos too. You could contact the closest college or university to you that has a Marine Biology faculty and ask for their advice.

Student: Did you get to know any dolphins and were able to recognize them when they were swimming?

Judy: It was really difficult to get to see, or recognize the same dolphins as they move so fast. We did manage to spot the same ones swimming under and around the boat for a few minutes especially if they had a clearly notched fin.