• 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.

Leaping Dolphins – Core Creek – Oct. 20, 2010

Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in Uncategorized

Core Creek-Oct 20, 2010-Photo by Keith Rittmaster
Photo by Keith Rittmaster

On Wednesday Oct. 20, we did a rather quick photo

Photo by Keith Rittmaster
Photo by Keith Rittmaster

ID trip up the Newport River to Core Creek – not far from our office. Keith and Nan who have been doing this for decades say that October is the month when they see the absolute most air-borne leaping dolphins. My favorite photo is the one with the dolphin’s rostrum just hitting the water. Newport River/Core Creek is an estuarine River that is not very developed in this particular part (south of the bridge and north of Deerfield). There is large area of preserved land behind the dolphins

Core Creek -10/20/10.  Photo by Keith Rittmaster         

Humpback Whale Skeleton Settled Into New Home

Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in Uncategorized

Whale Bones, Cape Lookout

VIP Trailer space for whale bones, Gallants Channel

Nan is putting flipper bones together just to see their size (about 12 feet)

With only 2 weeks notice, we were ready and waiting for the 37 foot humpback whale skeleton that arrived Friday October 10. Keith had miraculously cleared space for it in the ‘VIP Trailer’, which is our work and storage trailer across from our offices. Jeremy Winn and Becky Woodward drove the skeleton from Maine. The bones were individually wrapped and packed with padding filling their van and the boat they towed. These bones are heavier than the sperm whale bones we are used to working with, and feel and smell different. We re-labeled each bone as the old labels were fading.

Whale Bones, Cape Lookout

Vicky and Becky are putting the vertebrae in order

Ribs on their way into VIP Trailer

Chain of Custody form required for Marine Mammals










And, another adventure whose outcome is unknown, begins. The skeleton will be re-articulated and hung – but all the details of who and where are on hold for now.

The participants in this project were: Vicky Thayer; Dick Barmore; Keith Rittmaster; Nan Bowles; Bruce and Pudge McCutchen; Brooks; Becky Woodward and Jeremy Winn.

Bones settled into new home in the VIP Trailer

Becky and Keith completing
Chain of Custody Forms

Humpback Whale Skeleton Arrives

Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in Uncategorized

Tomorrow we will receive the skeleton of ‘Pittfall’, a 37 foot female humpback whale who beached at Duxbury, MA 2001.She was 3 years old and would have weighted 25 tons.She was a whale known to the researchers in that area. She died from a ship strike – her rostrum was sheared off at the cranium and other bones were also broken.

We have made space and are excited to welcome her. She is being driven down from Maine.The bones are clean, organized and well prepared. At this point we don’t know if we are just storing them for 6 months or if we will articulate the skeleton ourselves (after we finish the sperm whale skeleton).Tomorrow we should know more and I will add an update. 

Cape Lookout Updates

Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in Uncategorized

No damage from Hurricane Earl.

of our cumulative totals.
Bottlenose Dolphin Photo ID  ~  In the summer we usually see dolphins, especially moms and calves, in the Newport River but this summer we have seen very few dolphins there. We don’t know why.We were out doing photo ID 6 days with 2 sightings total. We identified 16 dolphins. Nan went to Manteo,NC to collaborate and identify more of the dolphins that spend time in both our areas. She saw some of the dolphins that spend winters here.

Our Dolphin License Plate Sales have gone up slightly from the last quarter but are down from 2005 – 2006.

We received donations from Kim Merrels and Sea Stewards.
Marine Mammal Strandings  ~  On August 2nd, a freshly dead emaciated lactating dolphin was brought in from the Neuse River. We knew her as “Roto 8” NCMM #3567. She had a stingray spine in her abdominal cavity. but it was not likely the proximate cause of death. She was part of the April, 2006 Beaufort, NC captures.
Keith is currently part of a film crew here in Beaufort, NC. Maybe more later, or it may have to stay a secret.

Hurricane Earl

Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in Uncategorized

Boats are out of the water and moved back from the waters edge. Notebooks of data  are covered with plastic. Miscellaneous debris that could become missiles have been stashed. Hurricanes are changeable and we don’t think we’ll get a direct hit but …….
We are not on the mandatory evacuation list and we are staying. We are not going out to do photo ID for the next few days though.

Cape Lookout Studies Program UPDATE

Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in Uncategorized

We sent 31.1 miles of recovered monofilament to Berkley for recycling.That is a lot of monofilament that will not get into the stomachs of sea life.
Photo ID.
We were out on the boat in the estuary and/or ocean looking for dolphins 8 days in July.
We had 6 documented sightings on those trips.
In those 6 sightings we have photographed and identified 18 individual dolphins with distinct dorsal fins.
There were 6 Bonehenge tours given and Keith gave 3 dolphin presentations at the NC Maritime Museum.

Sea Stewards Learn about Monofilament Recycling

Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in Uncategorized

Sea Steward Learners 2010
These “Sea Stewards” were part of a field  course through the NC Maritime Museum where they  volunteered with local marine conservation efforts.

They spent a day with us (Cape Lookout Studies Program) checking some of our Monofilament Recovery and Recycling bins at the beach, on a fishing pier, the docks in downtown Morehead City and a fishing spot at Harkers Island Bridge. Often their arms would disappear down the bin. Some of what they pulled up was clean, coiled fishing line. However, even though there is a large NO GARBAGE sign, they also pulled up drink cans and bottles (some half full), dead fish, food wrappers and an odd mix of vegetation. The students were real troopers and kept at it even as it got hot and smelly. We then took our collection from the bins back to our work space and showed them how we sort the contents, weight the fishing line and record all the information on a data sheet. We showed them one of the fish habitats that are made from the fishing line/monofilament that we mail to the recyclers.
Keith Rittmaster with fish habitat
made from recycled monofilament
We hope this program is continued next summer.

Spirit Sperm Whale T-Shirt

Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in Uncategorized

Last year, October 16, we blogged about the unveiling of  Karen Hattman’s ‘Spirit Sperm Whale’ painting to honor the sperm whale skeleton we are re-articulating. The painting is on the side of the building where the bones are becoming a skeleton again. (See bonehenge.org ). 
Now, we are excited to offer a 100% cotton T-Shirt of the painting. You will receive an explanation of the meaning of the symbols with the shirt. 
Click on .http://bonehenge.org/Merchandise.aspx 
to order your shirt. New color(s) coming soon.
 I can’t wear mine without people wanting to know where they can get one.

Field Guides & Turtle Watch