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 (firstname.lastname@example.org, 252-504-2452) at the North Carolina Maritime Museum.|
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