• 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.

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    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.

Posts Tagged ‘cape lookout studies’

Lethargic Dolphin Nov. 2015

Written by Tursiops. Posted in bottlenose dolphin photo ID, Cetacean Studies, Uncategorized

In August, 2015, during a routine atlantic bottlenose dolphin photo-ID survey, Keith Rittmaster and Josh Summers of nc maritime museum / cape lookout studies encountered a dolphin intermittently rafting lazily at the surface in Back Sound. It appeared to be an unusual behavior but we could not determine a problem so we photographed the bottlenose dolphin and continued on. It was subsequently reported by boaters in the same area in August because the behavior was conspicuous.

Then in early November, 2015 we received multiple reports of a tursiops truncatus (bottlenose dolphin) “disabled”, “dying”, “with a shredded tail”, and ultimately the last report (as of this writing) on November 5th, 2015 was that it was “dead floating upright” in Beaufort Inlet. Dead dolphins don’t float upright and we found what was reported as “dead” on November 5th very much alive, and its behavior recalled our August encounter in Back Sound. But again, not being able to determine a problem, we took photographs and moved on.

Subsequent examination of photos from the 2 encounters confirmed our suspicion that the dolphin we saw Nov. 5th in Beaufort Inlet was the same individual as the one we saw in Back Sound in August. Also evident in the dolphin identification image above [or below?] is 1) it appeared skinnier in November, 2) the injury on its left side in August has healed, and 3) it had fewer Xenobalanus barnacles on its dorsal fin in November. What was reported as a “shredded tail” was actually barnacles on the trailing edge of its tail (see photo).lethargic-dolphin-web-credit Tt-Xeno-flukes-web-credit

A young bottlenose dolphin dead with multiple entanglements

Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in Marine Mammal Stranding Network, monofilament recycling

            On October 7th, 2011, Kat Fourhman of the NC Aquarium at Roanoke Island responded to a stranding of a dead bottlenose dolphin on the shore of Roanoke Sound near Manteo, NC.  Paul Doshkov of Cape Hatteras National Seashore assisted with the investigation.  It was a 175cm (5’ 9”) male.  At that size he would have been around 2 years old, still nursing, growing fast.  Monofilament line from 2 different types of gill nets surrounded the rostrum and left pectoral fin. 

Student dolphin research grants awarded (2005)

Written by Tursiops. Posted in Uncategorized

2005 NC Student Grants

photo007photo008
Photos by Keith Rittmaster

Congratulations to the 2005 “Protect Wild Dolphins” grant recipients and thank you for your good work.

Recipients are all NC graduate students doing research on bottlenose dolphins. The grants are to help them defray the cost of presenting their work at the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic Marine Mammal Symposium March 18-20, 2005 in Wilmington, NC. Below is a list of the recipients with a short paragraph on how their research will help us protect and learn more about bottlenose dolphins. These grants are funded by the sale of the NC Maritime Museum’s “Protect Wild Dolphins” license plates.


Michelle Barbieri – UNCW

An assessment of seasonal changes in the dorsal fin surface temperatures of free-ranging bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in Sarasota Bay, FL, USA

The goal of this study was to investigate the physiological and behavioral responses of resident bottlenose dolphins in Sarasota, Florida to seasonal changes in water temperature. Dorsal fin surface temperatures of free-swimming dolphins were measured across seasons using infrared thermography. This direct physiological measurement was paired with an assessment of how water temperature and dolphin distribution changed seasonally throughout the study area. Assessment of how these physiological and behavioral mechanisms interact is important in understanding bottlenose dolphin thermoregulation. These data describe the ability of dolphins to respond to environmental fluctuation, and can provide insight into thermal stress as well as the implications of global climate change for resident and migratory marine mammals. Seasonal distribution data may also be used to inform local management decisions, specifically in areas with rapidly developing coastlines, such as the Sarasota Bay region.


Victoria Thayer – Duke

Effort to disentangle a bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) calf in Beaufort, North Carolina

Entanglement is an important conservation problem for marine mammals in many parts of the world. In January 2005, we sighted a bottlenose dolphin calf swimming with an odd surfacing posture alongside its presumed mother in the waters near Beaufort, North Carolina. The mother was known from ongoing collaborative studies in the area by North Carolina Maritime Museum and the Duke University Marine Laboratory. Photographs taken that day and the following day confirmed suspicions that the animal’s swimming ability was severely hampered, likely by fishing gear not visible at the surface. The decision was made to intervene and capture the pair. Unfortunately, the calf died while restrained; post-mortem examination revealed extensive entanglement of 40 lb test monofilament line that had cut deeply into the mandible and caudal peduncle, and fungal sinusitis. The female was released and has subsequently been photographed with other dolphins. This case study reinforces the threat posed by discarded recreational and commercial fishing gear to marine wildlife. We hope to educate fishermen in North Carolina about appropriate means of discarding unwanted line by instituting a program similar to the Monofilament Recovery and Recycling Program in Florida.


Erin Meagher – UNCW

Seasonal differences in heat flux across multiple body surfaces in wild bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus)

The work I will be presenting describes how wild bottlenose dolphins regulate their body temperature across seasonal changes in environmental temperature. Understanding these mechanisms may provide insight into their seasonal distributions and will hopefully provide baseline information that will be useful for monitoring populations of dolphins as global warming changes their coastal ecosystem.


Ari Friedlaender – Duke

Historic and recent mass stranding events of short-finned pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus) on the US Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts

Short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) are known to mass strand along both the US Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts. These events offer scientists unique opportunities to gain insight into the biology, physiology, ecology, behavior, and social dynamics of the species. The Smithsonian Institution has compiled over 50 mass stranding event records from 1896 to 2005, ranging from 3 to 140 animals. Mass stranding events are most common in the Gulf of Mexico in August, while February and October have the highest incidence along the US Atlantic coast. The average group size of mass strandings is higher along the US Atlantic coast (23.86) than the Gulf of Mexico (17.57), as is the average number of mass stranding events per year (0.42 versus 0.22). The most recent mass stranding event in January 2005 in North Carolina highlights the ability of marine mammal stranding networks to mobilize from various institutions and collect the highest quality tissue samples from a large number of animals. These samples will be used for myriad research projects to, in unprecedented detail, investigate both the cause of the stranding event and learn about the biology of short-finned pilot whales.

Entangled dolphin calf dies during rescue attempt.

Written by Tursiops. Posted in Marine Mammal Stranding Network, monofilament recycling

UPDATED: See update at bottom of page

Entangled Dolphin Calf Dies During Rescue Attempt

by Keith Rittmaster,
Natural Science Curator
NC Maritime Museum
Jan. 13, 2005

On Tuesday, January 11th. off our NC Maritime Museum docks in Gallants Channel we saw a familiar dolphin named “Yang” (#1185). She has a very distinct dorsal fin and we have had her in our photo-ID catalog since 1992. We know she is a female because we have seen her before with a young calf. In fact, in October ´04 we photographed her with a young calf, one that was probably born around May, ´04. On Tuesday she was also with her young calf but this time her calf appeared to be entangled in fishing line, struggling at the surface for every breath, and unable to extend its body to swim properly. It was just Yang and her calf. No other dolphins were nearby.

We contacted some of our local colleagues (Vicky Thayer at Duke, Aleta Hohn and Gretchen Lovewell at NOAA/NMFS, and others) who came out on a boat with us to have a look and help evaluate the condition of the calf. Since we were observing what appeared to be a life-threatening human-induced injury, we began to pull together a group of local professional colleagues and volunteers to attempt a rescue coordinated and led by Aleta. On the morning of January 13th. 20+ people from 6 local institutions on very short notice in 6 boats set out with the goal of trying to safely locate, capture, disentangle, and release the calf. Within an hour of leaving the dock in light rain, we found (thanks to Janet Frye on her boat “Daydream”) Yang and her calf. The tide was high but they were near a sandbar so Blake Price, Dave Skinner, and Kevin Brown of the NC Dept. of Marine Fisheries deployed a large-mesh seine net and captured Yang and her calf on the first attempt. While restraining the 2 dolphins next to each other, we soon realized that the calf was horribly injured as a result of entanglement in a jumble of monofilament fishing line stretching from his mouth to his tail. Craig Harms, the attendant veterinarian from NCSU/CMAST, was considering euthanasia when the baby died in our arms in front of his mother, “Yang”. We released the mother.

The necropsy revealed that the fishing line had cut both sides of the mouth down into the bones (mandibles) and cut deeply near the tail almost to the spine. The outcome, although disappointing because we were unable to save the calf, left us with the rewarding feeling that we did the best we could have and forged relationships that are likely to be helpful in the future. It will be interesting to see if/when Yang joins up with other dolphins and gives birth again. If we had gotten to the baby sooner perhaps we could have saved him. We’re all feeling pretty deflated right now. We hope that those who read this will help educate others about the negative impacts of litter, particularly of discarded monofilament fishing line, on marine wildlife. Thanks for everyone’s support and help, especially the following people who assisted with the preparation and rescue attempt:

Aleta Hohn David Brown Nate Bacheler
Allen Brooks Emma Jugovich Patti Haase
Annie Gorgone Gretchen Lovewell Paul Rudershausen
April Goodman Janet Frye Rachel LoPiccolo
Ari Friedlander John Russell Tom Ninke
Blake Price Kevin Brown Vicky Thayer
Craig Harms Keith Rittmaster
Dave Skinner Nan Bowles

For more information please visit capelookoutstudies.org or e-mail krittmaster@ec.rr.com.

Click photo for large uncompressed version of photo.

Yang with Calf

Yang with entangled Calf

Entangled Calf

Entangled Calf

Yang’s (#1185) Sighting History
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
29-96,E 15-96,E 23-02,OC 11-02,OC 27-95,E 12-97,E 9-97,E 25-94,E
6-99,E 22-96,OC 7-98,E 19-97,OC
22-04,OC 25-96,OC 11-99,OC 19-98,E
8-02,OC 9-03,OC 19-99,E
19-02,E 25-04,E 14-02,OC
22-02,OC
25-02,OC
The entries under the month column headings indicate the day and year for which we have photos of “Yang” (ie., 29-96 under January means January 29, 1996), and general location (E=estuary, OC=ocean).

UPDATE: We’ve decided to name Yang’s calf “Yaholo” which is Seminole for “One who yells”. We’ve added a slide show from the pictures of Yang and Yaholo to the fishing line (monofilament) recycling project page. That page is dedicated to Yaholo – we hope that he will continue to “yell” through this page so that everyone learns how monofilament recycling can help protect wild dolphins.

Humpback Whale Sighting

Written by Tursiops. Posted in Cetacean Studies

Humpback Whale Sighting

Jan. 3, 2005

Today we encountered a humpback whale on our way to the NC Maritime Museum’s field station at Cape Lookout. The whale appeared to be a juvenile and was associated with menhaden purse seining boats that were encircling a school of menhaden. Volunteer John Russell got a great photo of the underside of the tail (“flukes”) which can be used to identify the individual whale.

Click photo to enlarge

Humpback Whale
Humpback Whale

Humpback Whale Flukes
Humpback Whale Flukes

Thanks for helping us to replace the Blazer

Written by Tursiops. Posted in Donate, Thank You / Volunteer

New wheels for the Cape!

Blazer

Thank you Donors!  |  Donor List

Blazer  It took a long-time volunteer and friend like John Brewer to know just what we needed in a vehicle for the museum’s field station at Cape Lookout. “Let me help you find a good truck for a great program” he said. And it took the thoughtfulness and generosity of the donors listed here. So when the Chevy Blazer (donated by Cherry Point MCAS) finally had to be retired this summer after 7 years of hard duty hauling people, gear, supplies, and dead whales at Cape Lookout, a loose conspiracy was formed to purchase a replacement vehicle for the Cape Lookout Studies Program. A

Blazer

 

fundraiser led by long-time supporter Haywood Holderness raised $8,945 from 36 people from 6 states. This enabled us to purchase a 1984 4-wheel-drive Chevrolet Scottsdale pickup truck. John then spent 10 days customizing it for the Cape by building a top carrier, installing a bumper push bar, taking out the carpeting and weather-stripping (they trap sand, salt, and moisture), replacing electric window cranks and door locks with manual ones (the salt air at the Cape is hard on electronics), replacing worn-out parts, installing large tires on wide rims, and painting it top and

Blazer

bottom, inside and out, with the most rust resistant coatings available. The result is pictured above. Thanks also to Kittrell’s Auto Parts in Havelock and Atlantic Auto Salvage for their help in this project. Thousands of students, young and old alike

 

 

will benefit from the generosity. If you’re feeling left out because you’re not included here, don’t worry, donations are being accepted for new projects!

Blazer

 

CAPE LOOKOUT STUDIES DONOR LIST –

$ 1000+ – DolphinRalph & Tabbie Merrill, Beaufort, NC
Bruce & Regina McCutcheon, Beaufort, NC
Bill Transou, Durham, NC
Bud & Anna Doughton, Raleigh, NC
$ 500+ – Sea TurtleHaywood & Mary Holderness, Durham, NC
John & Sandra Atkins, Durham, NC
Harriette & Hugh Wilde, Beaufort, NC
Tom Darden, Raleigh, NC
Steve & Pam Hassenfelt, Greensboro, NC
$ 200+ – PelicanGraham & Nora Barden, New Bern, NC
Sam & Nancye Bryan, Durham, NC
Mike Warlick, Stafford, VA
Jim Maxwell, Durham, NC
Woody Warburton, Durham, NC
John Brewer, Newport, NC
Margaret Harker, Morehead City, NC
Rusty & Mary Holderness, Tarboro, NC
Richard Meissner, Harkers Island, NCBlazer
$ 100+ – FlounderBob Barnhill, Tarrboro, NC
Alex Denson, Durham, NC
Ralph & Sue McCaughan, Durham, NC
Sally & Paul Ransford, Chapel Hill, NC
Sally Steele, Swansboro, NC
Penn Holderness, Orlando, FL
Nancy & Tom Reams, Richmond, VA
Dail Holderness, Raleigh, NC
Tom & Cheryl Walker, Longboat Key, FL
Elizabeth Kernan, Mill Valley, CA
Jack Jenkins, Morehead City, NC
Richard & Joyce Veazey, Stem, NC
Worth Dunn, Raleigh, NC
Mason Williams, Raleigh, NC
Sam Bass, Raleigh, NC
Keith Rittmaster, Beaufort, NC
$ 50+ – Fiddler CrabJulian Mann, Raleigh, NC
Walker Long, Chapel Hill, NC
$ 25+ – Mosquito
Blazer

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.