When we are not having a day off, nor collecting data on the whale-watching boat or on a survey on the zodiac, we have office hours!
Office days start at 9.30 in the morning which gives us some time in the morning to sleep in, take walks or do groceries. Usually, the first part of the day consists of a presentation of some kind. We’ve had presentations about common species of cetaceans and birds in the Mediterranean, photo-ID techniques as well as anatomy and physiology of cetaceans. It’s very interesting to hear more about the animals we both are looking for and seeing.
After presentations, we are put into different works, either photo-ID, data transcription, marine birds or skin lesions. In photo-ID we look at all the photos from a sighting, discard the blurry and not useful images. In the rest of the photos, we search for differences in dorsal fins and separate them into individuals. At the end, we match the different individuals with a catalogue and identify them. It’s quite fun to do the photo-ID since you get to see a lot of dolphins (even though they are on the computer) but usually, there are a lot of photos and details to go through, you don’t do it in one sitting.
Photo-ID is a great way to keep track of the different individuals: how often they are sighted, with whom they are usually seen if they have calves, interactions with fishing gear in terms of new scars etc. By sharing the photo catalogue with other research groups in other regions or even other countries the movements of dolphins can be documented. Even though it might be tiring sometimes it’s a great way to contribute to the research and better understanding of the Mediterranean dolphins.