The Sea of Abaco: Day 2

Jasmine Lees
Sunday 26 February 2023

Boat group one had a bright and early start this morning as we set off to meet Charlotte and Diane at the marina at 8am. We applied plentiful amounts of sunscreen, loaded the boat, and headed north to try and find dolphins. Unfortunately, the resident dolphin population members illuded us again and our search was unsuccessful. We did, however, have a lovely, sunny morning on the water. We didn’t let the lack of dolphins deter us though, and set off to retrieve three passive acoustic recorders.   

Bahamas Marine Mammal Research Organisation (BMMRO) has been monitoring three sites around Marsh Harbour since 2019 using passive acoustic recorders. While deployed, the recorders collect data on the ambient noise in the surrounding area which can be used to answer a variety of questions that BMMRO aims to answer (see soundscape blog entry). At each site, a few eager members of our group would jump in the water with snorkel gear to aid Diane in searching for the recorder. Looking for the recorder is a bit like hide and seek as it can blend in with the ocean floor remarkably well. While retrieving the third and final recorder, we spotted what could possibly be the world’s largest sea cucumber. It was so large, in fact, that we almost didn’t notice the small green turtle sleeping next to it.  

After admiring the ginormous sea cucumber, we headed back to shore to rendezvous with group two. During the changing of crews, we also learned how to replace the SD card and batteries for the recorders as well as how to set them to an appropriate recording cycle and scrubbed them clean so that they could be redeployed by group two later that afternoon. As group two left the harbor for their afternoon dolphin search and passive recorder deployment, group one returned to our accommodation where we had a relaxed afternoon working on our various assignments and projects. Group two had spent their morning preparing for the outreach program on Tuesday and went on another food shop.  

Unfortunately, group two was also unsuccessful in their afternoon dolphin search. However, they did have an exciting run-in with a tiger shark (everyone was safe on the boat during the encounter). After the search for dolphins, it was time for group two to redeploy the passive acoustic recorders. During redeployment, the group of young and budding bioacousticians got their hopes up for dolphins when they mistook the sounds of the closing zip ties underwater for dolphin whistles (which is a very common mistake if they are to be believed).  

They returned from their afternoon on the water in the early evening. Some went to shower, others did some work, and a few of us started to prep for dinner. On tonight’s menu were taco bowls. Cooking was accompanied by Tristan’s eclectic but fitting Taco Tuesday playlist. While dinner was cooking, we were treated to a presentation by Diane about supporting Abaco’s dolphin population through the effects of climate change. After the presentation, we made our taco bowls and ended the day with a delicious feast among good company.  

Written by India Haber (University of St Andrews)

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