• 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.

Thank You & Sperm Whale C 2-7 Vertebrae Capture

Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in Uncategorized

Thank you http://http://southernfriedscience.com/ for your $200 check from your matching funds challenge for http://bonehenge.org/ and its sperm whale skeleton re-articulation project.
One of the latest triumphs in this project is the replacement of a vertebrae missing from our sperm whale with one approximately the same size (their whale was 33 feet and ours was 33.5 feet). Keith put word out to the international stranding network that he was looking for cervical vertebrae C 2-7. It is called C 2-7 because in sperm whales the 6 cervical vertebrae are fused into one bone.

At Fort De Soto Park in Florida a sperm whale had been buried after stranding and dying a couple of years ago. After much arranging of logistics and a grueling hot day with the back hoe digging up the whale skeleton to find C2-7, the right bone emerged. Success.
It was very smelly and had to go on the plane in a cooler for the trip back to Beaufort. Kitty Litter was the primary ‘de-smeller’ of choice with help from those spray
fragrances. The vertebrae is here at our site on top of the roof drying out and still smelling.

Bottlenose Dolphin Sightings for April and May 2009

Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in Uncategorized

In this picture the sliver of land behind the dolphins and water is Shackleford Banks where we see a lot of dolphins. Shackleford is unihabited by humans.
Bottlenose dolphin sightings for month of April 2009 in both the ocean and estruary under Keith’s research permit are:
4 days out on water
6 separate sightings and
73 total individual dolphins
and for May 2009

6 days on the water
7 separate sightings and
46 individual dolphins.
In May there were 10 dead neonates on NC beaches which is a record high but we have seen 2 live ones with moms in Beaufort so far and we expect there will be more.
photos by Brooks


Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in Bonehenge; Cetacean rearticulation, Donate

We only have 3 days left to take advantage of a matching funds offer. (Sounds like NPR).
southernfriedscience.com is offering to match any funds donated to Bonehenge for the next 3 daysIf you scroll down on their site, you will come to an image on the right of a Sperm Whale skeleton that says ‘donate now’. There is a link to Bonehenge.org but don’t click the link because you will only get the matching funds by donating on his southernfriedscience site. Take a look at the Bonehenge.org site though, it is really interesting and worth donating to. A sperm whale skeleton is being re-articulated here in Beaufort, NC in a building built just for this project. There are some state of the art procedures being used such as x-rays of one of the flippers that was frozen at the time of stranding to assure accuracy in arranging the complex flipper bones, comparisons to human bones of the same approximate age, analysis of stomach contents and bone degreasing. We are learning from what has and has not worked in the past.
Thanks !

Stranded Right Whale

Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in Uncategorized

This past winter a Right Whale stranded on Shark Island which is right off Cape Lookout near Beaufort, NC.
We were asked to get some additional tissue samples after the necropsy(autopsy for an animal) had been completed. The whale seemed to have been entangled and also to have a curvature of the spine. It was thought to be a 2 year old male. Where it had stranded was a very tricky site only accessible by boat and only at a certain tide.
The first picture shows how even though we mourn the loss of the whale, the seagulls remind us, as we arrive, that nothing is wasted.
Keith and Duck, a volunteer, work at getting the samples as they stand with chilly ocean above their knees.

They returned successful.

The good news is that this year there was the highest number of Atlantic Right Whale calves born in the last number of years. They are very endangered.

photos by Brooks

The Main Players

Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in Uncategorized

Here are Keith Rittmaster and NanBowles, the long time CapeLookout/Dolphin ID staff. Keith is Curator of Natural Sciences for the North Carolina Maritime Museum. It is surprizingly often that you will see Keith carrying a marine mammal skeleton somewhere, on the phone is pretty typical also – on the boat picture is coming. Nan, who is usually pretty colorful, manages the data for Dolphin Photo ID Project and whatever else needs doing. Everyone here is very good at wearing multiple hats. She has the best ‘dolphin spotting’ eyes out on the boat. I am a helper who is doing this blog. Any errors are my responsibility. There are many wonderful volunteers who keep everything from boat engines to morale in excellent condition.photos by Brooks

Cutty and Neonate

Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in Uncategorized

Cutty‘ was seen swimming with her newborn calf Sunday, May 24th, 2009 in the Newport River. The Newport River goes past Beaufort NC up to Core Creek and is also the Intracoastal Waterway (a couple of us live here too). This is a place where moms and calves are often seen spring and summer – some refer to this area as the ‘nursery’. We have seen Cutty since 1985 in the Beaufort area although not every year. We also have seen her with other calves. We are excited. In the picture you can see the fetal folds (the dark lines across the back of the calf). Like us, they pretty much have to curl up in the uterus due to lack of space. She was with 2 other dolphins when she was seen.
photo by Keith Rittmaster

Spyhop Log becomes Spyhop Log blog

Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in Uncategorized

Welcome as Spyhop Log moves into the 21st century by becoming Spyhop Log Blog. Expanded mission, some changes and lots of activity. Keep checking with us.
Our biggest change is the Bonehenge Project that started in 2004 with a stranded Sperm Whale at Cape Lookout, NC. That whale’s skeleton is now being prepared to be re-articulated and will eventually hang in the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort, NC. Check all the info and pictures at Bonehenge.org. It’s fascinating – just last month there were 6,644 hits.

We continue our 18 year Bottlenose Dolphin photo ID work in Beaufort, NC with a NOAA Fisheries protected species research permit.
And we respond to Marine Mammal Strandings in our area and help with necropsies. Over the past year there have been both dolphins and whales.

Our NC Monofilament Recovery and Recycling Program keeps growing and we just sent off 31 pounds of of monofilament line (that’s a lot) for recycling. We now have 39 recepatcles installed at key fishing sites and shops with more on the way.

Pictures and more details will follow, at least you know we are still doing the work and are very much alive and well.

2008 Thank you donors, volunteers, contributors and collaborators.

Written by Tursiops. Posted in Thank You / Volunteer

Listed below are individuals/groups whose generosity helped sustain the Cape Lookout Studies Program in 2008 by providing a 25′ Sea Cat boat, boat cushions, printer ink, photo paper, office supplies, car batteries, guitar, hand soap, pistachios and other food, notebooks, XM Radio subscription, web hosting fees, web site maintenance, database maintenance, assorted hardware, boat fuel, boat use, $16,517 in cash donations/grants, and approximately 2,000 hours of volunteer time:

Adrienne Hopson

Allen Brooks

Amy Thullen

Andrew Lloyd

Ann and Ted Odell

Ann Rivers

Anthony Snider

Arielle Waldstein

Ashley Brooks

Ashley Everington

Barbara Cohea

Ben and Elizabeth Hawks

Beth Bockoven

Beverly Waite

Bonnie Monteleone

Brent and Kelli Creelman


Bruce + Pudge McCutcheon

Bubba Sanderson

Bud and Anna Doughton

Budsin Woodcraft

Cape Lookout Nat’l Seashore

Carl Spangler

Carolina Cay Maritime Found.

Carteret Co. Wildlife Club

Charles and Kay Lewis

Cheryl Toles

Clay and Ada Shields

Clifford Rice

Coastal Community Market

Connie Owens

Corey Shake

Craig Harms

D.A. Ballou

Dail Bridges

Dana and Ralph Gilliken, Jr.

Danielle Waples

Daphne Littiken

David and Bobbi Brown

David and Michelle Altis

Dean and Pam Richmond

Dee Holt

Denise Greer

Daine and Loran Baxter

Dick Barmore



Donald Fulcher

Donough Philips

Doug Snyder

Elizabeth Hawkes

Elizabeth White

Ella Holderness

Friends of the Museum

George Waller

Girl Scout Troop #843

Glen Lewis

Green River Preserve

Melissa Gosnell

Harry and Val Preddy

Haywood and Mary Holderness

Hugh Wilde

Jack and MC Jenkins

Janet Frye

Jean Richter

Jean Sarnacki

Jim and Beth Maxwell

Jim Daria Waples

Jim and Amy Thullen

Joe and Sue Kreuser

John Altman

John and Catherine Mennear

John and Ruane Langton

John and Sandra Atkins

John Brewer

John Mattos

John Russell

Julie and Steve Jones

Julie Dougherty

Karen Altman

Karen Hattman

Karen Roos

Keith Rittmaster

Kelly Stewart

Kim Jones

Kim Merrels

Kyla Basher

Leo Brody

Leslie Cooper

Lisa and Jim Rattray

Lora Fasolino

Lynn Sutherland

Margaret Harker

Margery Rittmaster

Matthew Godfrey

Melanie Lessard

Melissa Gosnell

Merle and Sharon Miller

Mike Bertino

Miriam Sutton

Museum of Coastal Carolina

Nan Bowles

NC Aquarium, PKS

Nelson and Patti Owens

Nevin Norris

NOAA Fisheries

Paul Miller

Paul Nader

Paula Gilliken

Peggy and Bobby Pleasants

Pene DiMaio

Pete Pucella

Ralph Merrill

Richard Meissner, Jr.

Robin and Angie Pittman

Roger Rittmaster

Sam Bryan

Scott Taylor

Stamps Transou

Steve Hassenfelt

Steven and Sarah Downing

Steven Nader

Sue Stuska

Tabbie Nance

Terry Greene

The Lookout Foundation

Thomas Ahern

Todd McLeish

Todd A. Stuart Foundation

Tom and Carolyn Schultz

Tom Kirmeyer

Tom Lenweaver

Triangle Community Found.

Vic Fasolino

Victoria Thayer

Woody Warburton

Zack Ogden



Click here to visit our Thank You page – dedicated to the supporters, volunteers, backers and collaborators of the Cape Lookout Studies Program.

2007 Thank you donors, volunteers, contributors and collaborators.

Written by Tursiops. Posted in Thank You / Volunteer

Listed below are individuals/groups whose generosity helped sustain the Cape Lookout Studies Program in 2007 by providing a boat trailer, a boat t-top, 3 pickup trucks, torque wrench, office supplies, hand soap, note books, fire extinguishers, propane, flatbed trailer, lumber, photo paper, hand tools, 2 SCUBA tanks, SCUBA regulator, waterproof Pelican case, surf wax, shovels, latex gloves, face masks, 2 coolers, 2 five gallon gas tanks, XM Radio subscription, web hosting fees, copier paper, plates, forks, power drill, skil saw, 2 cast nets, 2 tool boxes, 1st aid supplies, 2 boat windshields, coffee cups, web site maintenance, database maintenance, books, note cards, lots of assorted hardware, boat fuel, boat use, food, $7,635 in cash donations/grants, and approximately 2,000 hours of volunteer time:

Allen BrooksAmy Sauls

Ann Hice

Ann Rivers


Barnabas Fund of the Triangle Community Foundation

Beverly Beebe

Bob Jones University


Bruce McCutcheon

Bud and Anna Doughton

Cape Lookout Environmental Education Center

Cape Lookout Nat’l Seashore

Carl Spangler

Carolina Estuarine Research Foundation

Casablanca Partners

Cindy Gill

Crystal Coast Business Supply

David/Bobbi Brown

Elizabeth Basnight


Friends of the MuseumGirl Scout Troup # 884

Girl Scout Troup # 843


Graham Barden

Green River Preserve

Haywood + Mary Holderness

Hugh + Harriette Wilde

Janet Frye

Jim and Amy Thullen

John + Sandra Atkins

John Russell

Keith Rittmaster

Kelly Stewart


Kim Merrels

Lookout Foundation

Margaret Harker

Mark Bassinger

Mark Wise

Marsh’s Surf ShopMike Campbell

Miriam Sutton

Nan Bowles

Neal and Dana Mochel

Nelson Owens

NC Aquarium, PKS

NOAA Fisheries

Penny Larson

Progress Energy

Richard Meissner, Jr.

Roger Rittmaster

Salem Norris

Sam Bryan

Sam Warburton

Scott Taylor

Stamps Transou

Tom Kirmeyer

Vicky Thayer

Virginia/Wayne Yee

William Transou

Click here to visit our Thank You page – dedicated to the supporters, volunteers, backers and collaborators of the Cape Lookout Studies Program.

Field Guides & Turtle Watch