Whales and dolphins of the Moray Firth, Day 4, 3 June 2008
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3 June 2008 - If the rain comes, they run and hide their heads - Day 4

Today turned out to be kind of a day off but in a way it was more exhausting than the other days. It wasn't nice out and it wasn't pouring down rain. We kept waiting for it to clear up or get worse, so we didn't really end up doing much at all while we waited. And then by the time we decided it was too bad, well, there wasn't much day left.

Interior of #2.

The scary slippery steps.

I get up early. It is nice having a bit of time alone when it is quiet and nobody is around. I sit and read and write for a bit, having a cup of tea on a comfy chair and look at the harbor. It doesn't seem so bad looking out, but when I go out to take bottle to the recycling bin, I get a bit wet. Also, as we discover, the weather in our bay is a bit misleading. It can be perfectly calm but just outside the bay, the sea conditions can be horrible.

Bit of a rainy day out.

We sort of show up at 10 or so, but there doesn't seem to be a hurry. I write some more, organize some pictures (they are quickly growing out of control) and so some personal email and other things that sort of got pushed out of the way in the last few days since there wasn't much time for that. We learn about the database, how to enter in survey trips, how to query it for information, how the dolphins are kept track of, their photos and various bits of information about them and how they are updated. Some of the group help Kevin go over yesterday's photos to see who they were and see what can be discovered from them.

And we wait, and eat lunch. Andreas gives a presentation on diving physiology and how different mammals react to water pressure and oxygen deprivation and different adaptations around these. Some are geared toward short dives and some can reach hundreds of meters for incredible amounts of time. Apparently Korean divers are the champions of humans, along with a few others who compete in depth diving or length of time. And we learn how his tagging hopes for the minkes are supposed to work. He has tracking tags on suction cups which he hopes to stick on to a whale for maybe 20 hours and record how they dive, length and all that. If they can get good data on that, it might have a big impact on commercial whaling since that is all geared around how many they think are around and how many they can kill before they disappear. We also see his penguin research on a French island colony and see why he had problems with their techniques and why he moved on before his contract ended.

CRRU office.

View out of the office.

Dale and Andreas break out the radio tags and receivers and I accompany them on a walk around the harbor to test distance and location tracking and how that might work. Just from this initial test, it looks challenging. The difference in volume when we move the antenna around seems very slight and even triangulating with a few receivers, it might still be difficult to get a good location for the whale (which hopefully still has a transmitter suction cupped to it).

Dale is just a lovely fellow. Over the week, we all try to duplicate his Yorkshire accent and start coming up with our own versions of his stories. Usually starting with "there was this time I was in (exotic location) and I was doing (something dangerous)" and by the end of it he has sustained some sort of horrible injury and spends a few weeks in a hospital. All the woman think he is just adorable and cuddly. And he is just a really nice guy and somebody who you know you can trust out at sea.

We break for dinner. There is some talk about possibly doing a whale stranding (plastic whale filled with 2 tons of water on the beach) but running around in the cold and water doesn't seem to be the best thing for everybody's colds. We head off to the pub, but discover that it is closed on Tuesdays. Bitterly disappointed, we head back to #2 and empty out the honesty bar and play consequences (boy name, girl name, meet somewhere, he says, she says, and there is a consequence). Most of it has a high sexual content and a lot relates to dolphin and whale research and things from the week. It is a good laugh and a nice night. Late night again, sleep, where have you gone? And again, for a day where nothing happens, I go to bed, late, and totally exhausted.