• They have a lot more to teach us.

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    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.

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    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.

Green Flash and Brown Noddy

Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in Uncategorized

 This update came in from Keith Rittmaster July 27, 2011 from the NOAA Marine Mammal Assessment Cruise.
Above is a picture of a Brown Noddy that hitched a ride on board for awhile.    He wrote in his email  that Capes Hatteras and Lookout are  marine mammal hotspots, and Lookout is a loggerhead hotspot.  But Lookout also seemed to be the trash hotspot.  He also said how interesting it was to experience the different biology of the inner and outer continental shelves.  

   He continues: “Now we’re in blue water off northern Florida and seeing pilot whales, bottlenose dolphins, spotted dolphins, and grampus whales around the inner shelf break.  No sperm whales since Lookout.  We saw a mola breach high out of the water which I would have never imagined could be possible.  In fact I didn’t believe my eyes, but 2 other people saw it too.  
Offshore bottlenose dolphins are very entertaining bow riders twisting and doing back flops.” 
These pictures of the green flash are amazing, they are the best representation of it that I have seen. All the decades I’ve lived on one coast or the other and looked for the green flash, I never saw one. (You may want to enlarge the pictures to see it better).
Today’s Dining Room fare:  Wahoo ceviche for dinner.  Quesadillas with mango salsa for lunch.  Every breakfast has ‘ship made’ yogurt, fruit salad, pancakes, and omelets to order.  Our bananas are on the way out so we’ve been eating lots of banana bread. The chef even makes soy milk and tofu on board from organic soybeans.” 
I know he misses home but it’s hard to feel too, too sorry for him.

July 2nd Dispatch from Keith on Marine Mammal Observation Cruise – 55 miles off Cape Lookout, NC

Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in Uncategorized

Keith continues on the NOAA Marine Mammal Observation cruise.
On July 2nd they were at the tip of the red arrow.The nearest point of land was Cape Lookout where on board they were seeing/hearing lots of sperm whales!!!  The latest group was 3 calves at the surface – presumably the moms were below foraging.  The calves were silent but the others that were deep could be heard – “knock..knock..knock” like a distant carpenter.  The acoustics folks who monitor 6 towed hydrophones 24/7 said not only can they hear sperm whales click, but they can tell when the whales capture and swallow a squid.  Wow.  
On June 30th, Keith reported that it was rough and stormy the night before,   so that morning, they moved to an inside track where the weather was better.   There they saw bottlenose dolphins, Atlantic spotted dolphins, and 3 loggerhead sea turtles (they didn’t see any turtles further offshore). There were lots of Wilson’s storm petrels too.  
And finally, to the really important info., Keith says:
    “The food on board is nothing short of incredible.  Chicken cordon bleu last night, roast duck breasts tonight, with homemade sweet potato pie – “Mississippi sweet potatoes, not those inferior NC sweet potatoes” exclaimed our very talented, educated, and upbeat chef Margaret who wears tie dyes and listens to the Grateful Dead.  Delicious guacamole, hummus with warm pita bread, fresh squeezed limeade” are often available too. 
Maybe he’ll bring us all a doggie bag.

Start of Keith Rittmaster’s NOAA Marine Mammal Assessment Cruise

Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in Uncategorized

Here is Keith Rittmaster’s first dispatch from aboard the Gordon Gunter. They are on their way to Key West (not to play) and then out to deep water.
Refer to previous post for the path of the cruise. 1st Posting – NOAA Cruise
Below, that is Keith on the binoculars and his is the upper bunk, notice the open laptop. He can send and receive emails on board. I think the pictures of dolphins look like incredible paintings.
I am truly excited that he is sharing this adventure with us. 

All photographs copyright by Keith Rittmaster

Keith’s NOAA Cruise

Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in Uncategorized

Keith will be taking leave from NCMM to serve as a scientist (marine mammal observer) aboard the 225′ NOAA Ship Gordon Gunter (http://www.moc.noaa.gov/gu/) in the deep blue Atlantic Ocean.
He will be part of a team of 14 scientists including other marine mammal observers, oceanographers, birders, and acousticians.  Their study area will be off the Atlantic coast between 28d & 38d N latitude, inshore to the 50 meter isobath and offshore to the U.S. Economic Exclusion Zone (approx. 200 miles offshore). This area includes two historic sperm whaling destinations (“Hatteras Ground” and “Charleston Ground”) which is of particular interest to him.  The primary objective of the cruise is to help estimate abundance and distribution of whales and dolphins (cetaceans) in the U.S. Atlantic waters.  His responsibilities will include standing watch on 25×150 military binoculars (termed “big eyes”) searching for cetaceans, directing the ship to any sightings, identifying the species, and counting the individuals.  Other projects on board: 24/7 acoustic monitoring, biopsying whales for DNA, oceanographic profiling (temperature, oxygen, conductivity, productivity, and plankton at various depths), and identifying birds, sea turtles, and other marine wildlife.
He plans to provide  periodic dispatches (with photos) for blog posting.