• 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.

Fin whale, and “Onion” returns, Nov.16, 2015

Written by Tursiops. Posted in bottlenose dolphin photo ID, Cape Lookout Studies Program, Cetacean Studies, Marine Mammal Stranding Network, Sighting Report

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Today was an amazing day for the crew of Spyhop. The day started out with 2015’s first sighting of “Onion” here in Beaufort. While out for our regular bottlenose dolphin photo ID survey we encountered him  in the estuary near Phillips Island. He appears to be in good condition, and seems to be in the company of a new companion.

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We continued out to the ocean, as weather conditions were perfect. No other groups of bottlenose dolphins were seen off Shackleford banks. However, several blows from whales were visible in the distance. Heading back into Beaufort inlet we spotted a very unusual sight…A Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) just off of Atlantic Beach! This encounter is highly unusual as Fin whales are rarely sighted south of Hatteras in NC or near the beach in shallow water. While photographing this animal for documentation and possible photo identification we sighted a humpback whale, also very near the beach and a short distance away near the AB circle. Unfortunately we did not have the opportunity to photograph this animal. However, on our way back to the dock we encountered yet another humpback whale only slightly farther offshore of Ft Macon!

fin whalefin whale


Fin whale top left and right, Humpback whale below:
humpback whale

Nov. 11, 2015 Dolphin Photo ID

Written by Tursiops. Posted in bottlenose dolphin photo ID, Cape Lookout Studies Program

 

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Beautiful weather allowed us to go out today on our cape lookout studies program boat “Spyhop” and do our usual bottlenose dolphin survey and photo ID.  Just a few minutes after leaving the Gallant’s channel dock we encountered our first group of approx. 15 animals in the estuary. We recognized a few of our winter “regulars”, among them at least 3-4 mother/calf pairs. The next group was spotted in the ocean off the west end of Shackleford, including freeze brand (FB) #402. Freeze brand animals have been previously captured and marked with numbers to help with dolphin research and identification. A lot can be learned from the sightings of these animals. The third group we saw was fairly large, but due to deteriorating weather conditions we decided not to attempt photos. Inside Cape Lookout Bight we saw a single bottlenose dolphin and surprisingly (for this time of year) several sea turtles, one identified as a large Loggerhead. We had hoped for another sighting of the humpback whale repeatedly seen in the area over the last few weeks, and last photographed by us on Nov. 5, 2015.

Here are today’s “best of” bottlenose dolphin dorsal fin photos:

bottlenose dolphin fin photos

Keith Rittmaster’s Fabulous Presentations

Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in Bonehenge; Cetacean rearticulation, Cape Lookout Studies Program, Education

GO-Science
The first one on, Monday evening, September 26, was sponsored by Go-Science’s Science Cafe at McCurdy’s  Restaurant on the Atlantic Beach Causeway.What a great crowd !!! His presentation was about Bonehenge (our sperm whale skeleton re-articulation project) and even though  some of us had heard a presentation about Bonehenge several times, it was still fascinating. He always adds  new pictures and information to each presentation, so I go as often as I can. It was an over flow crowd. The excitement  of moving towards the final 6 months before the display moves to the NC Maritime Museum is amazing when we look back at the whole process.For great information about the sperm whale from the stranding at Cape Lookout January 2004 to its skeleton now hanging in a beautifully dynamic dive in the bonehenge barn click here.bonehenge

 
The second presentation was Friday evening September 30 at the NC Maritime Museum. It was about his NOAA marine mammal survey cruise this past summer. (There is lots of info about this in  previous posts on this blog). It was so mesmerizing that no one got up to leave when it was over, we just asked questions and kept Keith talking. We learned what ship board life was like; how incredibly good the food was; the science of deep water acoustics; how different data was collected; how funny they looked in their safety suits; the differences inside and outside the under water canyon and much more.What a gift Keith is to our Beaufort community  !!

Where Is Cape Lookout Studies Office ?

Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in Cape Lookout Studies Program

The black arrow points to our office. There is the small Beaufort airport behind us and Town Creek marina next to us.

Below is another view. We are in the white trailer with the tiny white arrow that is closest to the Marina. The dock just to the left in the picture is where we keep our boat. Further to the left are the Gallants Channel Docks and land that are, like us, an extension of the NC Maritime Museum in Beaufort. Since this picture was taken, more floating docks have been added and the historical Ward-Hancock house has been moved here.

Here is a picture shot from the other side that was taken before the Gallants Channel docks were built.
Our office is all the way to the left. Across the water is the Beaufort draw bridge with work boats to the right of the bridge.
And finally, here we are at the end of the small white arrow. Across the water and marsh from us is part of the Morehead City Port and just out of view is the Morehead City high rise bridge. We feel lucky to be in such a beautiful and convenient location. From our dock, we have easy access to either the ocean or estuary for our Dolphin Photo ID work.

Please help us replace the Blazer at the field station

Written by Tursiops. Posted in Cape Lookout Studies Program, Donate

Please Help us Replace the Blazer

**NOTE: This is an older post, the blazer was replaced forever ago, but the needs of the program go on, click here to see how you can help.***

After 7 years on the Cape our Chevy Blazer from the NCMM field station is dead. We are giving you an opportunity to help us replace it. Ideally we’re looking for a donation of a good 8-cylinder 4WD vehicle with big tires and a trailer hitch. If you have any contacts that might help us get one please let me know. Also, Haywood Holderness is leading a fundraiser to help us purchase one if necessary. We have $6,950 so far and our goal is $10,000 by September 10th to help us purchase a used vehicle. If you could contribute to this or know anyone who can, please pass this message along and send checks payable to Friends of the Museum with the donation form before
September 10th, 2004 to:Haywood Holderness
Westminster Presbyterian Church
3639 Old Chapel Hill Road
Durham, NC 27707Download and print Donation Form in
Microsoft Word format (19KB)
Download & print Donation Form in
PDF format (71k)

I will acknowledge and update all contributors. All contributions are tax-deductible. And just to make it fun, we’ve come up with contribution categories:

$ 1000+ – Dolphin
$ 500+ – Sea Turtle
$ 200 – Pelican
$ 100 – Flounder
$ 50+ – Fiddler Crab
$ 25+ – Mosquito

View Current Donor List

Please forward this page to anyone you think might lend a hand.

Thanks for your support,

Keith Rittmaster

UPDATE: This is an old post, and the Blazer was replaced! While we no longer need these wheels, the needs of the program continue. Please check out our donations page for opportunities to contribute money, resources and time to the Cape Lookout Studies Program.

Southeast and Mid-Atlantic Marine Mammal Symposium (2003)

Written by Tursiops. Posted in Cape Lookout Studies Program, Education

SEAMAMMS 2003

Southeast and Mid-Atlantic Marine Mammal Symposium
Beaufort Bottlenose Dolphin Research Presented at Regional Meeting
by Elin Haugen, March 30, 2003

Seven staff members and volunteers of the North Carolina Maritime Museum’s Cape Lookout Studies Program attended the 10th anniversary meeting of the regional Southeast and Mid-Atlantic Marine Mammals Symposium ( SEAMAMMS) in Virginia on March 28 and 29. Hosted by Christopher Newport University in Newport News, researchers and students from Florida to New Jersey gathered to share their latest findings about bottlenose dolphins and other marine mammals, specifically whales, and manatees. Co-authors Nan Bowles, Allen Brooks and Keith Rittmaster, presented their ongoing research of identifying the bottlenose dolphins in Beaufort estuarine and coastal waters. Their specific topic addressed techniques for distinguishing individual dolphins by the scars and notches acquired on their dorsal fins – a process called photo-identification. Volunteers Kim Merrels, Victoria Thayer, Tom Kirmeyer, and Elin Haugen accompanied them; they are all active participants in local dolphin research initiated by Keith Rittmaster and Victoria Thayer. Since 1985 this Beaufort couple, along with many Southeastern colleagues, students of all ages, and volunteers from Carteret County, have studied and photographed dolphins to compile the largest dolphin catalog from any east coast study site. The Beaufort researchers also introduced an interactive display that simulates the fin matching process (Try our online version.). Originally designed and built by museum volunteers John Russell, Andy Caldwell and Ted O’Dell, for education programs, three new displays were recently built by volunteer Tom Kirmeyer for environmental education outreach efforts. This display design is easily adapted to other instructional activities. A new North Carolina “Protect Wild Dolphins” license plate that features a 3-color logo of a pair of leaping dolphins is now available, funds from which will support dolphin research, conservation, and education programs. For more information, contact Keith Rittmaster (krittmaster@ec.rr.com, 252-504-2452) at the North Carolina Maritime Museum.

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