Monday, July 26, 2010
Shark Chronicles 071 - Skeleton Coast Marine Lab
Hello! My name is Caroline and I am currently an intern at the Namibia Dolphin Project. I arrived here on the 1st of July from the UK. The view as I flew from Johannesburg to Walvis Baywas beautiful and consisted of miles of desert as far as the eye could see. I was met at the airport by Simon and after meeting the other interns and staff, I was soon feeling settled in and started learning how to grade dolphin photographs. This is important as only high quality photos are used to identify individual dolphins. The next day, on land survey duty, I caught a glimpse of my first bottlenose dolphin, which surfaced about 10m from shore. After teasing us with two short appearances, it then promptly disappeared. On my next land survey a few days later, we came across a whole group of bottlenose dolphins close to shore. We watched them wave riding, took as many photographs as we could and spent the next few hours tracking them from the beach to monitor their social interactions and general behaviour. This proved to be more difficult than it sounds - you don’t realize just how fast they can swim unless you are running alongside, trying to keep up with them!
On our day off, myself and the other interns went kayaking with wild seals at Pelican Point. The seals were adorable and were very intrigued by us and our brightly coloured kayaks. They were constantly swimming over to take a closer look and there were even a few attempts to steal our paddles! We saw a number of jackals as we drove through the desert and were amazed to witness a stand-off between a jackal and a fully grown seal. The jackal won the fish prize in the end but the seal didn’t give up easily!
While out on the research boat we encountered a whole group of Heaviside dolphins, inccluding two mothers with calves. I will never forget the sight of a baby calf swimming alongside the boat right beside me. However, the highlight of my first week here has to be the sight of a humpback whale surfacing about 5m away from the back of our boat. The noise of it blowing out as it surfaced made everyone on board jump with shock, especially as we were all expecting it to come up about 500m away in a completely different direction. I have had so many incredible experiences here in just a week and I am eagerly looking forward to the next few weeks!