It's my last day here in Kaikoura. I'm packing up all of the gear and getting our field house, Atawhai, back in order. Adrian, Kristin, and Heidi B. left on Friday. Kristin and Heidi are already back in the States, and Adrian is staying in New Zealand for another couple of weeks to travel around with a friend. It is cool and the snow is low on the Kaikouras.
In the end, the weather didn't cooperate to try another tag deployment. I also was not able to resolve the problem with the Dolphin Cam. I had many conversations with Peter and Gabriel in Sydney via Skype and email to troubleshoot the problem. It seems the problem is something with the internal wiring to the camera board and nothing to do with the batteries after all. I fly to Sydney tomorrow and will spend a couple of days with them at the University of Sydney. I look forward to working with them in person. Through this process, I certainly learned a lot about batteries and electrical wiring, so it was a good experience overall.
At the end of each field season, I always like to reflect on what we learned. Here are the highlights:
1) We learned how to efficiently and systematically conduct behavioral observations and photo-id of the large, mixed dusky pods. My previous work has been based on smaller pods averaging 7 individuals, so learning to collect data with pods containing 200+ individuals was a real success!
2) Based on our successful deployment of the dummy Dolphin Cam, it will be possible to obtain footage from the "eye of the dolphin".
3) Working in Kaikoura during the winter ideally requires a longer field season to ensure enough days on the water amidst the winter storms.
I hope to return next austral summer with a new and improved Dolphin Cam and tag. During the summer, the weather is generally better, the days are longer, and the duskies are closer. Stay tuned for the next episode from the Dusky Dolphin Research Team!
Below are some photos of the research team and our beloved boat, Rangi. Also, here is a link to a podcast created by Heidi B. that walks you through a day in the field with the duskies. Thanks for sharing, Heidi! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=360YSB8CRbE