• They have a lot more to teach us.

    We've learned a lot with your help. But there's still so much we need to know to protect our wild dolphin neighbors.

    Give to dolphin research at the Cape Lookout Studies Program.

  • Sea Turtel sick and injured from fishing line

    You can stop this.

    Protecting marine wildlife is within your reach.

    When you give to put monofilament recycling bins within reach of conscientious boaters and anglers.

  • Harbor seal in need

    Save lives, reduce suffering, learn more.

    It's a win, win, win – when you support our Marine Mammal Stranding Network.

    Please give generously to the Cape Lookout Studies Program.

  • Cetacean Studies

    Inspire curiosity.

    What does it take to get students interested in science and conservation? Your help.

    Please give generously to support Cetacean Studies and the Bonehenge rearticulation project.

Author Archive

Bonehenge. Marine Mammalogy Conference. Fun Dolphin Pictures.

Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in Uncategorized

It is busy here in many ways. Keith is going to Quebec City, Canada in early October to present a poster session on creating a skeletal display from a stranded sperm whale at the biennial Biology of Marine Mammals Conference. This is the poster.

To see a legible version of the Bonehenge Poster go to bonehenge.org and click on ‘Bonehenge Updates’ on the front page and then on ‘bonehenge Poster’.

We’ve been out on the boat doing Photo ID often in the last weeks. As is pretty typical of September we have seen some larger groups of dolphins in the estuary and in the ocean, primarily adults but a few calves. They have often been in shallow water and have seemed very energetic. We too have felt more energetic as the intense heat and humidity have lessened. These are photos from these sightings.

The dolphins were swimming under the boat, around the boat, away from the boat and toward the boat, with each other and
separately. They would zoom around and then slow down and stop. They didn’t seem to be feeding. Since they are so fast,
some of the pictures are just after the ‘perfect moment’.

photos by Keith Rittmaster

August 2009 Stats

Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in Uncategorized

Bottlenose Dolphin Photo-ID. Our sightings of dolphins continue to be low for this time of year. We did see ‘Oprah’ with a nursery group and ‘Caitlin’ with her calf.
We were out on the water 8 days in August
We had 3 separate sightings and
We have photos of 13 distinct, and therefore identifiable, dorsal fins.

http://capelookoutstudies.org/ web site received 312 hits this month.
http://www./bonehenge.org/BONEHENGE/(S(3jfax35541rmmj45ywd5lff4))/Default.aspx web site received 9,804 hits this month
http://www.spyhoplog.blogspot.com/ blog received 101 hits this month.

NC Monofilament Recovery and Recycling Program. We sent off 2 boxes, approximately 40 miles. of recovered monofilament to the recyclers. Terry Greene delivered a new bin to the Estuarium in Washington, (little Washington) NC.
Received a $100 donation from Linda Boyer in little Washington, for this program NCMRRP.

No known Marine Mammal strandings.

More on Cutty and her Neonate in 2009

Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in Uncategorized

Back in May we reported seeing ‘Cutty’ and her neonate in the Newport River estuary here in Beaufort, NC. Here is a little more information about her:
Cutty is one of our most photographed dolphins. She is an experienced mother now with the seventh calf we have seen her with since we started photographing her in July of 1985. (There may have been some we missed) She is an example of one of our summer dolphins, seen in our waters from late April through early October. When Cutty and her calves are not in Beaufort waters, we know they go south to the area around Wilmington, NC. This is confirmed by comparing our dolphin dorsal fin photos with those of researchers from the University of North Carolina in Wilmington, NC.
and excitedly finding matches.

photos by Keith Rittmaster

Surprise Donation to Help Wild Dolphins

Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in Donate, Education, Thank You / Volunteer

Marissa McCabe, an elementary school girl from Wake Forest, NC learned about our program of Monofilament Recycling and Recovery . On her own she created a very catchy ‘save the dolphins’ campaign. This is the info that she circulated.And, to add to the appeal she made small change purses for people collecting their ‘Change for Change’. When they donated their money, they could keep the purses. Here are pictures of both sides of the purse.

Her card reads: “Change for Change”. Bottlenose dolphins are getting entangled in discarded fishing line. This is killing and harming these beautiful dolphins off the NC Coast. Please consider donating the change you collect to protect this precious marine wildlife.

What a wonderful, thoughtful and caring act of contributing Marissa did. Thanks, Marissa, maybe you will inspire others.


Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in Uncategorized

We do a lot with bones here. The biggest project is the sperm whale skeleton re-articulation –http://www.bonehenge.org/
But, I am particularly moved by the beauty of many types of bones.From time to time I will post some pictures of
various bones. Still deciding if it would be more fun for you to guess whose they were or tell you….hmmmm….
With bone pictures, please don’t copy them – email us and we can get a copy to you. http://www.spyhoplog@gmail.com/


photos by Brooks

And just a few more,

Fox Kits

Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in Uncategorized

On the Gallants Channel property in Beaufort, NC. near our office and the water are fox dens. Last year they were dug in the bottom of a 3-4 foot rise in the sand, well disguised. This year they are much more right out in the middle of an open area. No idea why. Keith swept the sand smooth in front of the den to confirm that they were currently in use. Fresh footprints appeared. He took some pictures – these are from last year but the kits look pretty much the same this year. The way Keith took the pictures was neat. Early one morning -they are more active dawn and dusk-he set up a digital camera on a tripod set to take a frame every 2 seconds. He went to the office and returned in 2 hours and found these pictures.

On this first picture you can see one of the den entrances
behind the kit. He or she is looking at the camera – something new in his familiar environment.

photos by Keith Rittmaster

July Public Interaction

Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in monofilament recycling

This writer has been traveling and nursing the flu, so after no posts for a month, there is a lot to post.
July Public Interaction

George Olson of NPR/PRE aired an interview with Keith about the Bonehenge Sperm Whale Skeleton project. It was good and here is the link

Keith was interviewed and quoted in the July ’09 Outside magazine in their featured article on Dolphin 56 – the ‘Beggar’.

Keith gave three presentations at the NC Maritime Museum about Bonehenge.org. and three about NC Dolphins. He also gave six tours of the Bonehenge Barn where we keep and work on the the Sperm Whale bones.

The portable monofilament recycling container spent two days at a fishing tournament on Atlanta Beach, NC in the main tent where everyone gathered. This shot was taken
just before they gathered.
photos by Brooks

Dolphin Photo-ID Update

Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in Uncategorized

June 2009 Dolphin Photo-ID Statistics
~8 days on the water
~7 days of sightings
~55 dolphins counted and photographed

We don’t know yet how many of the dolphins are ones we know. That process takes time in that the best pictures have to be selected; then the fin photo cropped and printed; then compared with every picture we have of dolphin fins by hand and then if a match is not found we search for a match on the computer with the ‘fin scan’ program. Possible fin matches are overlaid and assessed in a graphics program. Finally, the resulting data is recorded. There are four people who work on this.

Dolphin FB 438 seen furtherest south April 2009

Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in Uncategorized

This April, exactly the kind of coastal Dolphin Photo ID coordination we hope for unfolded with Dolphin FB438 – FB indicates he/she has a freeze brand and that the number is 438. Here is his history that we know so far:
Sept. 14, 2003 – he was tagged and freeze branded in New Jersey waters.

March 4, 200
4 – he was sighted off Ocracoke, south of Hatteras Inlet in North Carolina.
April 12, 2004
– Duke University staff or students saw him/her in Frisco, North Carolina.
Feb 20, 2005 – Duke University saw him by Hatteras Inlet, North Carolina. and then
April 28, 2009 – We saw him off Shackleford Banks, about mid-way, off Beaufort, North Carolina, with 12 other dolphins. This is the farthest south he has been sighted that we know of.
Most of us are not able to be out on the water
‘Photo ID ing’ every day, so he may have around much more often and/or even further south or north. If we are able to ID some of the other dolphins in the group of 12, in the future we will want to see if s/he is with any of the same dolphins again.
If the dolphins have smooth fins with no nicks, indentations or marks that are permanent we can not ID them. They will often have scrape marks or superficial scars but these come and go and can not be used for long term ID.
The holes you can see in dorsal fin are the result of a satellite tag that was placed on the dolphin at the same time it was freeze branded.When the tag came off, it left the holes. My understanding is that the area is anesthetized locally before the tag is attached. The people who have watched the procedure, report that there seems to be no reaction from the dolphin from any part of the process.
photos by Keith Rittmaster