Wild Dolphin Societies
Team I: January 7 – 20, 2007
Team II: February 4 – 17, 2007
Team III: May 13 – 26, 2007
Team IV: June 10 – 23, 2007
Team V: July 8 – 21, 2007
Team VI: August 5 – 18, 2007
Welcome to the Wild Dolphin Societies expedition! This project’s long-term information on
identifiable individual dolphins available from 1970 to the present is unique among field studies
of behavior and population biology of small cetaceans. If the results of our research to date are
any indication, then this year’s project should be very productive, both in terms of our own
enlightenment about the complex biology, behaviors and social system of these free-ranging
dolphins and in producing information bearing directly on the conservation of this dolphin
species and others.
Our research program through the mid-1980s concentrated on obtaining as much information as
possible from the dolphins of known age and sex that were still identifiable from our efforts
during 1970-1976. These dolphins comprised fewer than half of the members of the resident
population. It became clear during the 1980s that to refine our understanding of the social and
population structures it would be necessary to 1) learn the ages and sexes of more of the
population members and 2) make detailed observations of other dolphin communities in nearby
waters for comparison purposes. Increasing human use of the ecosystem indicated a need for
more concentrated study of habitat use patterns. This need led to the design of our current
research program, in which we conduct intensive year-round studies of the distribution, social
and reproductive patterns of the Sarasota residents along with supplemental observations of
neighboring dolphin communities in the Gulf of Mexico and southern Tampa Bay. These
comparisons have taken on increased importance in light of large scale marine animal mortalities
associated with the 2005 red tide event.
Your participation in this research program will help us achieve our goal of establishing the most
thoroughly known free-ranging dolphin population under study anywhere in the world. In
addition to providing important baseline data for comparison with other populations, such a
natural laboratory situation will provide the basis for continuing long-term observational studies
of habitat use, social development and population dynamics. The resulting information is needed
for the development of management plans for the conservation of bottlenose dolphins. The
methods we are developing and testing will be important for application to the conservation of
other endangered dolphin species as well.
Jason Allen & Randall S. Wells
Wild Dolphin Societies
Table of Contents
GENERAL INFORMATION...................................................................................................................... 3
THE EXPEDITION ..................................................................................................................................... 4
1. PROJECT OVERVIEW .............................................................................................................................. 4
2. RESEARCH AREA ................................................................................................................................... 4
3. PROJECT STAFF ...................................................................................................................................... 5
DAILY LIFE IN THE FIELD..................................................................................................................... 7
4. VOLUNTEER TRAINING AND ASSIGNMENTS ........................................................................................... 7
5. TEAM ITINERARY ................................................................................................................................... 8
6. DAILY SCHEDULE AND TASKS ............................................................................................................... 8
7. ACCOMMODATIONS ............................................................................................................................... 9
8. FOOD ................................................................................................................................................... 10
TRAVEL PLANNING ............................................................................................................................... 11
9. BEFORE YOU LEAVE ........................................................................................................................... 11
10. PROJECT CONDITIONS ........................................................................................................................ 14
11. HEALTH INFORMATION ...................................................................................................................... 17
12. PACKING CONSIDERATIONS ............................................................................................................... 17
13. RECOMMENDED READING.................................................................................................................. 18
14. EMERGENCIES IN THE FIELD .............................................................................................................. 19
15. HELPFUL RESOURCES ........................................................................................................................ 19
THE RESEARCH ...................................................................................................................................... 22
16. BACKGROUND, OBJECTIVES AND METHODS ...................................................................................... 22
17. RESULTS AND OPPORTUNITIES ........................................................................................................... 28
18. LITERATURE CITED ............................................................................................................................ 28
EXPEDITION PACKING CHECKLIST ................................................................................................ 34
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: 1) Jason Allen
2) Randall S. Wells
POSITION / TITLE: 1) Dolphin Program Lab Manager
2) Director, Center for Marine Mammal and Sea
AFFILIATION: 1) Chicago Zoological Society
2) Chicago Zoological Society; Mote Marine Laboratory
PROJECT TITLE: Wild Dolphin Societies
RESEARCH SITE: Sarasota, Florida, USA
TEAM DATES IN FIELD: Team I: January 7 – 20, 2007
Team II: February 4 – 17, 2007
Team III: May 13 – 26, 2007
Team IV: June 10 – 23, 2007
Team V: July 8 – 21, 2007
Team VI: August 5 – 18, 2007
TEAM SIZE: Minimum: 2 Maximum: 5
MINIMUM AGE OF PARTICIPATION: 18 years of age *
* It may be possible for 16- and 17-year-olds to participate if accompanied by a parent or
guardian. Contact Earthwatch for more information and see Section 9 ‘Before You Leave’ for
traveling advice for minors.
BRIEFING VERSION 1
1. PROJECT OVERVIEW
Coastal bottlenose dolphins are long-lived mammals, in some cases reaching more than 50 years
of age. During the course of their long lives, they refine the skills required to meet the challenges
presented by their environment, and they become integrated into complex societies. In recent
years, many have had to cope with extensive human alteration of their habitats. Understanding
the dolphins’ population dynamics, life history, ecological interactions, social processes and
capacity to adapt to environmental changes requires long-term study.
The Sarasota Dolphin Research Program (SDRP) is the world’s longest-running study of wild
dolphins. The program’s primary purpose is to develop an understanding of the structure and
dynamics of small cetacean populations, as well as the natural and anthropogenic factors that
impact them. SDRP uses an interdisciplinary and collaborative approach in conducting studies of
bottlenose dolphins within a unique long-term natural laboratory in Sarasota Bay, Florida, where
at least five generations of identifiable dolphins of known age and gender live year-round.
This program departs from traditional Earthwatch research projects in that it is designed
primarily as a monitoring program to support other focused research, rather than being driven
by its own hypotheses. Earthwatch volunteers have been crucial to the collection of long-term
data on these dolphins. Data will continue to be collected by monthly survey efforts, half of these
with the help of Earthwatch teams. The teams will conduct photographic identification surveys
from a small boat in Sarasota Bay and surrounding waters to document the presence and absence
of resident dolphins, monitor the condition of individuals, identify distribution and habitat use
patterns, record social associations, detect births to resident females, note the occurrence of non-
residents and provide environmental contexts for the sightings and the animals’ activities.
2. RESEARCH AREA
The central west coast of Florida consists of shallow bays and low-lying barrier islands, each
separated from the next by a narrow pass. The dolphins range throughout these protected waters
into the shallow, often calm Gulf of Mexico. In addition to bottlenose dolphins, which are by far
the most commonly seen cetacean in the study area, you may have the rare chance to spot one of
the 14 other marine mammal species that have been reported from the Gulf waters off Sarasota.
One example is the endangered West Indian manatee, which lucky volunteers might see during
the summer months.
The Sarasota-Bradenton area offers a rich and diverse coastal flora and fauna. The highly
productive mangrove forests and seagrass meadow regions in the study area support a
tremendous variety of fish and invertebrate life. Loggerhead sea turtles are frequently seen
during the summer, and Ridley, green and leatherback turtles are also occasionally seen. Though
the barrier islands and much of the mainland shoreline are inhabited, there are areas of
untouched mangrove-lined shores providing feeding, breeding, roosting and nesting areas for
myriad sea and shore birds. These include brown and white pelicans, herons, ibises, egrets,
cormorants, magnificent frigate birds, black skimmers, gulls, terns and wood storks. Ospreys and
bald eagles also inhabit the area.
The research station at Mote Marine Laboratory is located on City Island, one of the barrier
islands in the study area where dolphin densities are high. The islands are known for their
extensive white sand beaches. Here, volunteers will have the opportunity to enjoy the area’s
impressive natural environment while having Sarasota city, a well known vacation and
retirement spot, close at hand. During the winter, this city’s population increases by about 40%
due to sun-seeking tourists.
3. PROJECT STAFF
Dr. Randall “Randy” Wells, age 52, is coordinator of the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program
(SDRP). He began studying dolphins as a high school volunteer at Mote Marine Laboratory in
1970, going on to receive a B.A. in Zoology from the University of South Florida and an M.Sc. in
Zoology from the University of Florida. In 1986 he received a Ph.D. in Biology from the
University of California, Santa Cruz, focusing on dolphin society structures. He was then
awarded a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Biology at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Since
1989 Dr. Wells has been a Conservation Biologist with the Chicago Zoological Society in
Brookfield, Illinois. In this capacity, he also serves as Director of the Center for Marine Mammal
and Sea Turtle Research at Mote Marine Laboratory. Additionally, he is an Adjunct Professor of
Ocean Sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz, through which he supervises M.Sc.
and Ph.D. students, and he holds an adjunct professorship in Biology with the University of
North Carolina at Wilmington. Currently he is focusing his research on the effects of human
activities on coastal dolphins, including boat traffic, fishing activities, human feeding of wild
dolphins and environmental contaminants.
Dr. Wells has served as Principal or Co-Principal Investigator for more than 120 marine mammal
research projects from 1980-2005. Other research has included studies of the behavior of
Hawaiian spinner dolphins, fransiscana dolphins, blue, gray and humpback whales, the effects of
offshore industrial activities on bowhead whales and the impacts of boat traffic on manatees. He
has authored or co-authored four books, more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles and book
chapters, more than 50 technical reports and 15 popular and semi-popular pieces. He has been
presenter or co-author of more than 170 presentations at professional meetings (1977-2005) and
more than 120 invited public and university lectures (1987-2005). He also serves as a member of
the Atlantic Scientific Review Group, working to evaluate stocks of marine mammals in the
Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. He is on the Steering Committee of the International Whaling
Commission’s Pollution 2000+ program investigating environmental contaminants in marine
mammals, and he is Chair of NOAA’s Working Group on Marine Mammal Unusual Mortality
Events. Dr. Wells served on the Editorial Board of the Society for Marine Mammalogy, and
currently serves on the IUCN’s Cetacean Specialist Group and Reintroduction Specialist Group,
and as an advisor to the AZA Marine Mammal TAG and Animal Welfare Committee.
Jason Allen, age 27, will train and work with Earthwatch volunteers in the field each day. He or
an assistant will meet team members at the rendezvous and coordinate housing and food
arrangements. Allen joined SDRP in 2001 after receiving his B.S. in Marine Science/Biology from
Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida. He is presently the Field Logistics Coordinator for the
SDRP/Chicago Zoological Society, having worked with endangered hawksbill sea turtles on St.
Croix, U.S.V.I., for the National Park Service from 1995-1997. His research focused on long-term
monitoring of a critical nesting beach as well as determining the number, health and foraging
ecology of juvenile turtles in the area. In 1998, Allen began working with bottlenose dolphins at
Eckerd College, leading field teams on boat-based photo-identification surveys in Tampa Bay and
surrounding waters. His primary interest was using the long-term data set to identify and
describe variations in the number, distribution and habitat use of the bottlenose dolphins in the
survey area. Since 2001, Allen has worked closely with Dr. Wells on his multi-disciplinary study
of free ranging bottlenose dolphins along the west coast of Florida. His responsibilities have
included health assessment, population surveys and photo-identification of animals in Sarasota
Bay, Tampa Bay and Charlotte Harbor.
Other SDRP staff who may lead Earthwatch teams or provide logistical assistance include:
Aaron Barleycorn, age 27, B.Sc. in Marine Science
Kim Bassos-Hull, age 38, M.Sc. in Marine Science
Elizabeth Berens, age 31, M.Sc. in Marine Science
Damon Gannon, age 38, Ph.D. in Ecology
Janet Gannon, age 40, M.S.N.R. (Master of Science and Natural Resources) and M.Ed. in Math
Sue Hofmann, age 48, B.Sc. in Marine Science
Stephanie Nowacek, age 32, M.Sc. in Marine Science
Robin Perrtree, age 27, B.Sc. in Biology
Dr. Wells may not be present during all Earthwatch expeditions. Depending on his professional
schedule, he may accompany some teams into the field on one day during the two-week
expedition. Jason Allen and Aaron Barleycorn will be present for all expeditions. On occasion,
other experienced SDRP staff members will accompany teams into the field or act as team leaders
in Allen’s absence.
DAILY LIFE IN THE FIELD
4. VOLUNTEER TRAINING AND ASSIGNMENTS
“My most positive experiences were those I had on the boat observing dolphins feeding. The combination of
recording data, learning from Jason and Aaron about tail slapping, chuffing, kerplunking, rushing, etc. and
witnessing these magnificent animals in action – it was all such a thrill!”
~Suzanne Kahn, Team XI, November 2005
On the first day of the expedition there will be a briefing for team members regarding house
rules, daily schedules and safety procedures. Volunteers will also have a lecture on boating safety
prior to the first boat trip. The morning after arrival, volunteers will receive an introductory
lecture on data collection and processing techniques as well as a briefing on field conditions.
Depending on his professional schedule, Dr. Wells may lecture or accompany the team into the
field on one day during the two-week period. Other informal lectures on related topics are
subject to the availability of staff, visiting researchers and the graduate students conducting the
research. Several videotapes of the activities and findings of SDRP are also available.
The assistance of volunteers is crucial to the success of this project. Volunteers assist with data
collection and recording while on the boat, helping to locate and keep track of dolphin groups,
recording sighting and behavioral data, collecting environmental information and recording
photographic data. Back at the lab, volunteers may occasionally be asked to restock field supplies
or check that each day’s data sheets are complete. Boat cleaning and maintenance may also be
required. No specific skills are necessary to participate in this expedition.
While the photographs used for dolphin identification will be taken by staff members, volunteers
with cameras will have ample opportunity to photograph dolphins with their own cameras once
identification photos are completed.
The Research Boat
Depending on the size of the team, either an 18-foot or a 22-foot center console research vessel
will be used. The boats are similarly configured with fiberglass hulls and equipped with gasoline
powered four-stroke outboard engines. The fuel capacity is 40-60 gallons, which under normal
operating conditions will provide enough for two days of surveys. Each boat also carries a GPS
(Global Positioning System), anchor, flares, whistles, throw cushion, horn, fire extinguisher,
running lights, dip net for scooping litter from the bay and life jackets for all aboard. Small bimini
tops provide limited shade from the sun. All boat operators carry a mobile telephone as a backup
to the standard VHF marine radio. The research boats do NOT have toilet facilities onboard.
Non-swimmers and persons uncomfortable on boats may be required to wear personal floatation
devices (PFDs) provided by the researchers whenever the boat is underway. At the discretion of
the project staff, all volunteers may be required to wear PFDs during boat work.
Note: Each volunteer must weigh less than 250 pounds (113 kilograms) in order to keep the small
boat in balance and facilitate free movement around the vessel. For safety reasons, all participants
must have full functionality of all limbs. See Section 10 ‘Project Conditions’ for more information.
5. TEAM ITINERARY
The team will be on the water observing dolphins on each day that weather allows (up to 10
days). Volunteers will be provided with free time on days when weather precludes boat work.
Below is a tentative team itinerary.
Day 1: Volunteers arrive in Sarasota (late afternoon/evening); orientation
Day 2: Briefing on data collection techniques in the morning; observations begin
in the afternoon (weather permitting)
Days 3-6: Observational surveys
Days 7-8: Free time
Days 9-13: Observational surveys
Day 14: Depart in the morning (~10:00 am) after cleaning accommodations, including
washing and replacing sheets and towels
Throughout the expedition, volunteers will have a number of additional educational
opportunities. While at Mote Marine Lab you will be able to view the two resident endangered
West Indian manatees, Hugh and Buffett. The April-October survey teams may see wild
manatees in the study area. Other captive manatees may be viewed at the Bishop Planetarium in
Bradenton and at Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa. During the winter months, wild manatees may be
seen at the Big Bend power plant in Apollo Beach. Volunteers are urged to visit the Mote Marine
Lab Aquarium and Marine Mammal Visitor Center where you will find exhibits explaining the
local marine life as well as ongoing research at the lab. Two non-releasable rehabilitated dolphins
reside in Mote Aquarium’s lagoon at the Mammal Center and are on display. Volunteers
interested in bird rehabilitation and local birdlife are encouraged to visit the Pelican Man rescue
facility adjacent to Mote Lab. For plant lovers, a world-renowned orchid center is located in
Sarasota at the Selby Botanical Gardens. For those interested in art, the Ringling Museum of Art
contains a wonderful collection. Consult a travel guidebook for information on other local
attractions. See Section 15 ‘Helpful Resources’ for suggested guidebook websites.
Note: Admission fees and transportation for free time activities are the responsibility of the
volunteer, including those you choose to join on bad-weather days.
6. DAILY SCHEDULE AND TASKS
Volunteers should be aware that schedules can and do fluctuate. Weather and work conditions
can affect the daily schedule. Should this situation arise, your cooperation and understanding are
7:00-8:15 am: Light breakfast at the accommodations; make lunches; prepare for departure
8:15-8:30 am: Bike/Walk to Mote Marine Lab
8:50-9:00 am: Meet at Mote dock
9:00 am-3:00 pm: Observational surveys
3:00-5:00 pm: Return to dock/lab; rinse and clean boat; grocery shopping for future meals
may be done at this time; back at the apartment, volunteers will prepare and
eat dinner together; the remainder of the evening is considered free time
10:00 pm-7:00 am: Quiet hours
The Volunteer Apartment
Volunteers will stay in a modest second-floor apartment on Lido Key, approximately two
miles/3.2 kilometers from Mote Marine Laboratory and overlooking Lido Public Beach, a
beautiful white sand beach extending for miles in each direction. The survey boat will depart
from Mote Lab. Bicycles will be provided for volunteers to ride to the lab (15 minutes), or you
may walk (30 minutes). St. Armand’s Key, with a variety of shops, restaurants and night life, is a
short walk from the accommodations.
The apartment has six twin beds, some or all of which may be bunked. There is usually a men’s
bedroom and a women’s bedroom and accompanying modern bathrooms (flush toilets, hot
water, etc.). Depending on the gender composition of the team, an attempt will be made to
provide a private room for couples, but couples should not count on sharing a private room.
There are no additional rooms available at the accommodations. Bed linens and bath towels will
be provided, but you should bring your own beach towel. The apartment has a reliable supply of
115-volt electricity with a standard US plug. Coin-operated laundry machines are available on the
apartment premises at the volunteer’s expense. Please plan to wash and replace the linens prior
to your departure. Internet is not available at the accommodations. However, it is available in the
Mote Marine Lab library from approximately 8:00 am to 8:00 pm on weekdays. There are six
computers available on a first come, first served basis.
Other Advice / Information
• After working hours: Project staff members live in their own homes in town and do not stay at
the apartment with the team. Thus, volunteers will be responsible for their own food
preparation and after-hours activities. Emergency home telephone numbers for staff
members will be provided to the team upon arrival.
• Transportation: Because of past bike repair problems resulting from volunteer use of the
bicycles, use must be restricted to transportation between Mote Marine Lab and the
apartment. Taxis, public buses, and rental cars are available at the volunteer’s expense for
other transportation needs. Many team needs can be met by businesses and activities that are
within walking distance of the apartment.
• Driving: Volunteers may drive to and from the rendezvous site in either personal or rental
vehicles. Once the expedition begins, however, volunteers are NOT permitted to drive or to
transport other volunteers while participating in project work or to get back and forth from
the project site. If volunteers choose to drive personal or rental vehicles during free time, they
do so at their own risk and are not covered by Earthwatch Institute’s liability insurance.
Emergency situations are an exception.
• Smoking: Smoking is NOT allowed in the apartment or onboard the research boat.
Volunteers will prepare their own meals and clean up after themselves. Foods of all kinds are
available at a number of grocery stores within driving distance. Trips to the grocery store will be
made several times a week. Food is purchased in quantities for the entire group on the basis of
US$9 per person per day. Persons with special dietary requirements will be provided with this
amount each day and they may purchase and prepare their own food. You may need to
supplement your own foods. Team members are strongly encouraged to plan meals that the
entire group can eat together. Vegetarians are asked to indicate this on their Earthwatch Institute
forms. Lunches are usually prepared during breakfast, with a heavy emphasis on peanut butter.
Below are examples of the foods you might expect during the expedition, however, exact foods
will depend on availability and on the tastes of the group.
Breakfast: Cereal, toast, bagels, juice, coffee, tea
Lunch: Sandwiches, fruit, cookies, chips, pretzels
Dinner: Pasta, stir fry, tacos
Snacks/Other: Pretzels, chips, cookies, fruit
Beverages: Water on boat (from a shared cooler – personal water bottles may be brought
aboard at the volunteer’s own expense); tap water at the accommodations is
Note: The legal drinking age in Florida is 21. The presence of alcohol at the apartment depends
on the ages of volunteers, and it can only be consumed by volunteers of legal drinking age.
Earthwatch food money cannot be spent on alcohol. Because this is a resort area, there are
numerous bars nearby. No illegal drugs of any kind will be tolerated. The first indication of drug
use will be immediately followed by expulsion from the team housing and the violator will have
to find his/her own way to the airport.
Special Dietary Requirements
Please alert your Earthwatch Expedition Coordinator to any special dietary requirements as soon
as possible (e.g. diabetic, lactose intolerant, etc.). Accommodating special diets, including vegan
and strict vegetarian, is usually possible, but not guaranteed.
9. BEFORE YOU LEAVE
For a listing of useful websites for passport and visa requirements see Section 15 ‘Helpful
Citizens of most countries are required to have a passport valid for at least six months beyond
your dates of travel to enter the United States. As of October 2004, all travelers under the Visa
Waiver Program must have a machine-readable passport or must obtain a visa.
Citizens of most countries will require a tourist visa to enter the United States. However,
travelers coming to the US for tourism for 90 days or less from qualified countries may be eligible
to visit the US without a visa if they meet certain requirements. Starting October 26, 2004, visa
waiver travelers from ALL 27 Visa Waiver Program countries must present a machine-readable
passport at the US port of entry to enter the US without a visa; otherwise a US visa is required.
Currently, the following countries participate in the Visa Waiver Program: Andorra, Australia,
Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan,
Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San
Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Citizens of
other countries should check with a travel or visa agency for specific visa and entry requirements.
Entry requirements are subject to change, so please check for updates in advance of your travel.
Essential Information for Volunteers Requiring Visas
Type of Visa You must get a TOURIST VISA.
Where to Get a Contact the nearest embassy or consulate of the country to which you are
Visa traveling to find out how to apply for your visa. Please note that this process
can take weeks or more. If you have less than six weeks or wish to save
yourself trouble, we strongly recommend using a visa agency, which can
both expedite and simplify the process. See below for a list of visa agencies.
Required You will need to send your passport (valid for at least six months beyond
Information your stay), a Visa Application and Immigration Form, 2-4 passport-size
photos plus payment to the embassy or visa agency (if applicable). Please be
sure that your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your stay.
Cost of a Visa Generally between US$40-100, but varies from country to country and can
potentially cost up to US$180. A visa agency will charge an additional fee
(depending on the amount of time it takes to process the application), which
you can inquire about directly.
Reminder: The purpose of your visit is for vacation, holiday or travel. Foreign immigration
officials do not always understand the concept of a “working vacation” or even “volunteering.”
Words such as “working”/”volunteering,” “research” or a “scientific expedition” can raise
questions concerning the country’s foreign labor laws and/or prompt questions about official
scientific research permits and credentials, etc., to which volunteers on their own will not be
equipped to respond. All required research permits for the project are in place and have been
approved by the proper authorities.
In Europe In Australia
The Visaservice Ask your travel agency if they can
Tel: +44 (0) 8708 900 185 send your visa application on your
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7278 8464 behalf.
Thames Consular Services Ltd
Tel: +44 (0)20 8995 2492
Fax: +44 (0)20 8742 1285
Volunteers Under 18 Years of Age
Entry to Foreign Countries
In an effort to prevent international child abduction many governments have initiated
procedures at entry/exit points. Many countries require all persons under the age of 18 to have a
notarized letter from all legal guardians stipulating that the person under 18 can travel
unaccompanied or in the presence of only one guardian. This letter must give an explanation for
why only one parent or someone other than a parent is signing the letter. For example, if one
parent is deceased, only one parent has legal guardianship, or someone other than the parents are
legal guardians, the letter should state that.
In addition, airlines may also have documentation requirements for unaccompanied minors.
Parents of minors are responsible for checking with each airline that their child will be flying to
ensure that sufficient documentation is provided. This could include a copy of a birth certificate
or a notarized letter stating that the minor has his or her parent’s permission to travel alone.
Note: Requirements by specific countries and airlines vary and change frequently. You MUST
keep informed of the requirements on your own to avoid problems at immigration. If a letter is
not available, the volunteer under 18 can be refused entry into the country. There is nothing
Earthwatch Institute can do to help in this circumstance.
Travel Medical Insurance
Travel medical and evacuation insurance is mandatory for Earthwatch volunteers while on an
Earthwatch expedition anywhere in the world. The insurance covers volunteer travel medical
risk, including medical expenses and medical evacuation, while traveling with Earthwatch
overseas or on an expedition within your home country. Without insurance, the costs of such
measures can range from US$20,000 to $50,000.
The emergency medical and evacuation assistance provider for Earthwatch is On Call
International. On Call is a 24-hour international operation which provides medical assistance and
evacuation, a 24-hour nurse help line and other travel assistance services such as lost baggage
and lost document assistance.
Basic coverage is valid in the country of your Earthwatch expedition and during international
travel to and from your expedition. If the expedition takes place in your home country, coverage
begins when your group forms for the expedition and ends when the group disbands, and is
incremental to your existing health insurance. Options are available for volunteers who would
like to extend the period of coverage, increase insurance amounts or purchase additional
cancellation or baggage insurance.
A detailed description of the Volunteer Medical and Evacuation Insurance Program policy,
including the optional coverage increases, will be sent with this briefing. Please note that
policies are specific to each Earthwatch office.
To contact On Call International in the event of an emergency, dial:
• 1-866-509-7715 from within the US
• +1-603-898-9159 from outside the US
State that you are on an Earthwatch expedition. The Earthwatch policy number is #US008020.
Trip cancellation insurance, which will help cover your airfare if you are unable to travel, is
highly recommended to Earthwatch volunteers. Earthwatch does not reimburse airfare or costs
associated with cancelled flights. Check with your travel agent to find out how to obtain trip
Earthwatch Europe volunteers can purchase Additional Cancellation Cover for £10 as a
supplement to the main premium that covers non-refundable travel expenses should your team
Contact your local travel agent or use the web to find the lowest rates to make your travel
arrangements. A list of suggested travel agents can be found in Section 15 ‘Helpful Resources.’ Be
sure to give your rendezvous details to your travel agent as soon as possible so they can plan
your trip accordingly.
Other Advice / Information
• Local currency: US dollar
• Electricity: 110/120 V AC, 60 Hz, flat two-pin plug
• Time zone: GMT-5 (GMT-4 April through October), US Eastern Standard Time (with Daylight
• Personal funds: Having some spending money is recommended, as there are many shops and
restaurants a short, safe walk from the apartment. Additional activities in Sarasota and
surrounding areas may require more money as well as transportation via rental car, taxi or
bus. ATMs are available nearby. Volunteers who need to exchange money should do so
before they get to Sarasota, as there are no exchange facilities in the Sarasota-Bradenton
Airport or near the apartment. Most shops, restaurants, etc. accept all standard credit cards.
• Tipping: It is customary to leave 15-20% of the bill for taxi drivers and at restaurants.
• Checking luggage: Please note that if you are checking your luggage for an international flight
with one or more connections, it will be necessary to collect your bags at the airport and have
them rechecked after proceeding through Customs.
10. PROJECT CONDITIONS
Please show this section to your physician when he/she is completing your health statement. Be sure to
discuss inoculation requirements with your physician well in advance of your departure date. See Section
11 ‘Health Information’ for inoculation information.
To the examining physician:
Your patient has volunteered to join a field research team that has specific physical demands of
which you and your patient should be aware. We need your accurate evaluation of your
patient’s ability to meet the conditions detailed below in order to safeguard his/her health and
safety and ensure that he/she can participate fully and effectively.
General Conditions of the Research Area
The terrain in central west Florida is flat and near sea level. Most of the annual rainfall (averaging
57.1 inches/145 centimeters per year) falls between June and September. Hurricanes and tropical
storms can be of concern from June through November. Humidity generally ranges from 70-
Volunteers joining the summer expeditions will be exposed to strong sun and temperatures will
generally be in the 30s/90s (°C/°F). Light winds and calm inshore seas are the rule during most
summer mornings, but days during this season will be very hot and humid. It is not uncommon
for the heat index to reach well over 38°C/100°F from June through September, and volunteers
should come prepared with light, breathable clothing. Typical late afternoon thunderstorms tend
to make for cooler evenings.
The wind and cold temperatures of winter can be quite harsh. Air temperatures range from 0-
16°C/30-60°F, though hard freezes have been recorded in more severe years. During the winter,
consecutive sunny days are interrupted approximately weekly by advancing cold fronts and their
attendant winds, rains and colder temperatures. Wind, air and water temperatures can make for
frigid conditions, and team members may be surprised at how cold boating can be during the
winter months in Florida. Warm clothing is strongly recommended, including ski hats and
gloves. It must be noted, however, that the Florida sun is very strong even during the winter.
Summer temperature range 27°C-80°F to 32°C/90°F
Winter temperature range 13°C/55°F to 16°C/60°F
Typical water visibility <1 ft to 12 ft
Typical maximum bottom depth <1 ft to 35 ft
Types of water environment Bay/Cove and open ocean
Anticipated sea state during project 0 ft to 2 ft
Timing of boat-based work (weather permitting) 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
The team will spend up to nine hours per day in a small boat exposed to the full strength of the
Florida sun. You should be prepared for the jostling that can accompany work in small boats on
open water. Good balance is necessary to avoid slipping on deck. Note that there is no toilet
onboard. On some days the team will be on the boat for up to five hours without stopping at
shore-side facilities. Volunteers may lean over the stern to relieve themselves (fluids only), but
dunking in the water strongly discouraged.
Below are the expected demands of the project, however, please keep in mind that conditions
may change and the project could potentially be more or less strenuous than indicated.
Sitting On the boat for 4-9 hours per day while scanning the water’s surface for dolphins,
completing forms, and handling small pieces of equipment
Walking/ From the apartment to Mote Lab and back (~2 mi/3.2 km) over flat terrain for
Biking approximately 30 minutes (walking) or 15 minutes (biking)
Carrying Personal gear; volunteers will also help lift gear containers of approximately 10-20
Entering boat Volunteers will enter the boat by stepping off a floating dock
Swimming During free time or upon falling overboard (unlikely)
Hazard Type Associated Risks and Precautions
Climate/ Major exposure concerns range from hypothermia to sunburn, heat exhaustion, heat
Weather stroke, and dehydration. All volunteers, including those on winter teams, must
bring protective clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, polarized sunglasses with a strap,
and waterproof sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher). You should drink plenty of water to
prevent dehydration. Note that alcohol causes dehydration.
Working on a Working on a small boat poses inherent risks Bouncing and jostling can be quite
boat uncomfortable for those with bad backs or neck pain. Boat surfaces are wet and can
be slippery, putting one at risk of falling and injury. Unplanned immersion in the
water from falling overboard can also put one at risk of injury and cold related
illnesses. The boats are carefully maintained and are equipped with appropriate
safety equipment including PFDs for each person.
Animals Sharks, stingrays, jellyfish, and large mosquitoes exist in the area. Shark attacks in
this region are very rare. Stingrays are common and volunteers will be advised to
do the “stingray shuffle” if they enter the water. Volunteers must heed the
warnings from the lifeguard stations on the beach. If there is an unusually high
number of jellyfish that should be displayed as well. Means of minimizing the
chances of an unfortunate encounter will be discussed during orientation.
Swimming Volunteers are not required to swim, but may choose to during free time. In
addition to the marine animals listed above, risks include high surf, especially
during storms. Waters tend to be calm and shallow, but you should heed high surf
warnings and pay attention to precautions about hazardous animals.
Transportation Volunteers will be transported to and from the airport using project vehicles, and
typical traffic risks will be present. Traffic laws will be followed and volunteers
will not drive. Sidewalks and bike paths are available when walking or biking
between the apartment and the dock. Volunteers are advised to wear bicycle
helmets (provided). Properly fitted helmets have been found to reduce injury.
Helmets are not required by Florida state law for those over 16 years of age, but
those who choose to ride without them do so at their own risk.
Conditions of Special Concern
Note: The study site is near major population centers, so medical facilities are readily available.
The nearest hospital is usually no more than a half-hour drive from any shore landing.
Condition Concerns and Precautions
Weighing 250 Each volunteer must weigh less than 250 lbs (113 kg) in order to keep the small
lbs (113 kg) or boat in balance and facilitate free movement around the vessel.
Mobility Boarding, stepping out of, and working on a boat may be particularly challenging
restrictions for volunteers with conditions that affect balance, agility or ability to tolerate
jostling. Such limitations would include back, neck or spine injuries, lack of fully
functional limbs, and any condition requiring use of a wheelchair. Volunteers with
limited mobility who are not wheelchair-bound should consult a physician and/or
Earthwatch about whether or not participation is advisable. Working onboard a
boat also requires balance to avoid falling down and becoming injured. Depending
on the severity of your condition, participation may be inadvisable.
Poor bladder As there is no toilet onboard, volunteers who have difficulty waiting up to five
control hours to urinate should reconsider participation. Alternatively, volunteers who are
comfortable going off the side of the boat are permitted to do so.
Strong If you are extremely sensitive to sunlight and/or excessive heat, this expedition
sensitivity to may not be for you. Volunteers should wear light, long-sleeved shirts, a wide-
heat and sun brimmed hat and sunscreen, and should maintain proper hydration.
Limited The project may be difficult for volunteers with circulation problems, as boat-
circulation based work will require sitting for long periods of time without stretching your
Proneness to Volunteers who are habitually seasick in small boats may find the daily work of
extreme this project quite uncomfortable. Bring along suitable anti-seasickness medication,
seasickness as suggested by your physician. If you are unwilling to take medication or if it is
unable to alleviate your seasickness, you may want to choose another expedition.
Hydrophobia This project is largely marine-based, and volunteers will spend a great deal of time
on the water. Any volunteer who exhibits signs of hydrophobia will not be
permitted on the boats, for the safety of both the afflicted person and other team
members and staff.
Inability to It is strongly requested that volunteers be able to swim; however, non-swimmers
swim may be able to participate if they are totally comfortable working on a boat. PFDs
are available on the boat. Volunteers may choose to wear one at all times, and may
be directed to wear one per orders of the captain due to weather conditions.
Allergies If you are dangerously allergic to bee or wasp stings, you may react similarly to
jellyfish stings. If you plan to swim, you must bring your own epi-kit.
11. HEALTH INFORMATION
Medical decisions are the responsibility of each volunteer. Note that health conditions around the
world are constantly changing, so keep informed and consult your physician, a local travel health
clinic, the US Center for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov), the World Health Organization
(www.who.int) or the resources in Section 15 ‘Helpful Resources’ for the latest health information
for travelers. Please consult your physician for guidance on inoculations if you intend to travel to
other parts of the country.
All volunteers should make sure to have the following up-to-date immunizations: DPT
(diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus), polio, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) and varicella (if you have
not already had chicken pox). Please be sure your tetanus shot is current. If you are coming from
a region or country where yellow fever is endemic, a Certification of Vaccination is required.
12. PACKING CONSIDERATIONS
PLEASE SEE THE PACKING CHECKLIST AT THE BACK OF THIS BRIEFING AND
REMEMBER TO TAKE YOUR BRIEFING WITH YOU ON YOUR EXPEDITION.
Do not bring more luggage than you can carry and handle on your own. You are encouraged to
pack a carry-on bag with an extra set of field clothing and personal essentials in the event that
your luggage is lost and/or takes several days to catch up with you.
Note that while you are encouraged to bring a camera, you will not be photographing dolphins
as part of the photo-identification research work. Volunteers wishing to publish personal
photographs taken on the project are required to consult the Principal Investigators prior to the
Please take into consideration the weather conditions during your team when packing for your
expedition. All volunteers should bring protective clothing and sunscreen. Climate information
can be found in Section 10 ‘Project Conditions.’
Make sure to bring your Earthwatch Expedition Briefing with you! It includes essential
information to which you may need to refer during your expedition, as well as during your
journey to and from the project site.
Please see the Expedition Packing Checklist for a complete list of what you will need to take
with you. We recommend going through the list with a pen or pencil and marking off each
required item right before you leave for your expedition. This list conveniently tears out from the
briefing, so you can take it with you when shopping and preparing for your expedition. Make
sure to bring the list with you on your expedition so you can check it again before you return
13. RECOMMENDED READING
The following list is designed to provide volunteers with background information on this
particular project, marine mammals in general, cetacean social behavior, bottlenose dolphin
biology and methods of studying marine mammals. Many of these media can be purchased
online through popular vendors. See Section 15 ‘Helpful Resources’ for suggested vendor websites.
Scientific Book Chapters
• Wells, R.S. 2003. Dolphin social complexity: Lessons from long-term study and life history.
Pp. 32-56 In: F.B.M. de Waal and P.L. Tyack, eds., Animal Social Complexity: Intelligence,
Culture, and Individualized Societies. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA: This chapter
provides an introduction to the kinds of long-term data our program collects and how these
data are used to better understand bottlenose dolphin social structure.
• Connor, R.C., R.S. Wells, J. Mann and A.J. Read. 2000. The bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops spp:
Social relationships in a fission-fusion society. Pp. 91-126 In: J. Mann, R.C. Connor, P.L. Tyack
and H. Whitehead, eds., Cetacean Societies: Field Studies of Dolphins and Whales. University of
Chicago Press. 433 pp: This chapter describes bottlenose dolphin social structure and
compares it from site to site across the world. The book provides a superb, though somewhat
technical, overview and integration of cetacean social systems.
• Reynolds, J.E. III, and R.S. Wells. 2003. Dolphins, Whales, and Manatees of Florida: A Guide to
Sharing Their World. University Press of Florida.
• Pringle, L. and R.S. Wells. 2002 (revised and reprinted from 1995 volume). Dolphin Man:
Exploring the World of Dolphins. Boyds Mills, Press Honesdale, PA. 42 pp.
• Reynolds, J.E. III, R.S. Wells, and S. Eide. 2000. The Bottlenose Dolphin: Biology and
Conservation. University Press of Florida. Gainesville. 289 pp: As indicated by the title, this
book provides an in-depth description of the state of our knowledge of bottlenose dolphin
biology and conservation, including frequent references to the dolphins of Sarasota Bay as
• Leatherwood, S., and R.R. Reeves. 1983. The Sierra Club Handbook of Whales and Dolphins.
Sierra Club Books. San Francisco: A comprehensive and authoritative guide to whales,
dolphins and porpoises.
• NOVA: Private Lives of Dolphins (provided at accommodations)
• Mote Marine Laboratory: Human Interactions with Florida’s Marine Mammals (provided at
Project Field Report
Each Earthwatch Institute-supported project submits a report on the past year’s research and
results to Earthwatch, generally on an annual basis. The most recent field report for this project
may be available online through www.earthwatch.org. Note that reports are not available for all
14. EMERGENCIES IN THE FIELD
There is a First Aid kit onboard the project boat to treat minor to moderate injuries. In the event
of more serious or life-threatening emergencies, the project staff will call 9-1-1 from a cell phone
onboard and arrange to meet an ambulance at the nearest shore access. There are several
hospitals in the Sarasota-Bradenton area.
Proximity to Medical Care
Staff certified in safety training Team leaders are trained in CPR and First Aid.
Nearest hospital Sarasota Memorial Hospital (main campus)
1700 S. Tamiami Trail
Sarasota, FL 34239
Tel: +1 941 917 9000
Fax: +1 941 917 1930
Alternative hospitals Manatee Memorial Hospital Blake Medical Center
206 Second Street East 2020 59th Street West
Bradenton, FL 34208 Bradenton, FL 34209
Tel: +1 941 746 5111 Tel: +1 941 792 6611
Distance The hospitals are within 10 mi/16 km of most shore landings.
15. HELPFUL RESOURCES
• Sarasota Dolphin Research Program: http://www.sarasotadolphin.org
• Mote Marine Laboratory Website: http://www.mote.org
Useful Visa Information
• General: http://www.embassyworld.com
• For Japanese citizens: http://www.rainbowt.jp/travel/visa_top.html
• For Australian citizens: http://www.travel.com.au
• The Visaservice: http://www.visaservice.co.uk
• Thames Consular Services Ltd: http://www.visapassport.com
Travel Guidebooks and Booksellers
• Lonely Planet travel guidebooks and online travel site: http://www.lonelyplanet.com.
• The Rough Guide travel guidebooks and online travel site:
• Amazon: http://www.amazon.com
• Barnes and Noble: http://www.bn.com
Travel and Airline Resources
• TravelNotes.org: http://www.1800-fly.com
• World Travel Guide: http://www.worldtravelguide.com
• Cheap Flights (worldwide): http://www.travelix.com/ or
• Airport Codes Worldwide: http://www.logisticsworld.com/airports.asp
• Third World Traveler – offers many links for useful travel information:
• STA Travel (US): http://www.statravel.com
Tel: +1 800 781-4040
• STA Travel (UK): http://www.statravel.co.uk
Tel: +44 (0) 1865 792800
Fax: +44 (0) 1865 792911
Quote code: EWE01/02
• Wexas International (Europe): http://www.wexas.com
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7581 8761
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7581 7679
Quote code: EWE01/02
• UK Foreign Office travel advice: http://www.fco.gov.uk/travel
• Frosch International Travel: http://www.froschtravel.com
Tel: +1 713 850-1566
+1 800 866-1623 (toll free)
Fax: +1 713 850-0027
• Austin Travel: http://www.austintravel.com
Fax: +1 561 390-6940
• Country Reports - country information from around the world:
• National Geographic Map Machine:
• US State Department: http://www.state.gov/
• World Time Server: http://www.worldtimeserver.com/ (time worldwide with
GMT/UTC) or http://worldbuddy.com
• Currency converter: http://www.xe.com/ucc/
• Electrical current converter: http://www.converterstore.com/voltage_chart.htm,
• Telephone dialing from and to anywhere: http://kropla.com/dialcode.htm
• Unit conversions: http://www.onlineconversion.com
• Worldwide weather: http://www.worldweather.com,
http://www.wunderground.com or http://www.tutiempo.net/en/
• ATM locator: http://visa.via.infonow.net/locator/global/jsp/SearchPage.jsp,
• Heat index (temperature, dewpoint and relative humidity):
• Exhaustive list of weather resources: http://cirrus.sprl.umich.edu/wxnet/servers.html
• US Travel Clinic Directory: http://www.astmh.org/scripts/clinindex.asp
• Travel Health website: http://www.mdtravelhealth.com
• Center for Disease Control: http://www.cdc.gov
Tel: +1 800 311-3435 or +1 888 232-3228
• World Health Organization: http://www.who.int
• The Travel Doctor (Australia): http://www.tmvc.com.au
Tel: +1 300 658-844 (within AU)
• Disease Outbreaks: http://www.who.int/csr/don/en/
• MASTA Travelers’ Healthline (UK)
Tel: 0906 8 224100 (within UK)
16. BACKGROUND, OBJECTIVES AND METHODS
Since its inception in 1970, the principal approach of the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program
(SDRP) has been to follow identifiable individual dolphins over time. Initial efforts involved
tagging dolphins for identification (Irvine and Wells, 1972; Wells et al., 1980; Irvine et al., 1981,
1982; Scott et al., 1990b; Wells, 2002), but for more than two decades photographic identification
of natural markings has been the primary approach (Würsig and Würsig, 1977; Wells et al., 1987;
Scott et al., 1990b; Würsig and Jefferson, 1990; Wells, 2002). Most of the current research consists
of observations of these identifiable individuals from small boats. More than 30,000 dolphin
group sightings have been recorded since 1975, and some of the more than 3,000 recognizable
individual dolphins in the SDRP database have been observed more than 1,000 times over more
than 30 years.
To complement the observational studies, from time to time small numbers of dolphins are
briefly captured, examined and sampled by veterinarians, and released, in order to assess their
health, body condition and contaminant burden, learn their gender, determine their age, monitor
their growth, mark them and evaluate their genetic relationships. Most of the approximately 150
Sarasota resident dolphins are distinctively marked, and more than 90% are of known sex, age
The compilation of “case histories” for known individuals is a powerful tool for learning about
the lives and needs of animals. One of the first and most important contributions of the program
was the determination that coastal bottlenose dolphins in Florida waters inhabit long-term, multi-
generation, year-round ranges. The SDRP was the first systematic study to demonstrate patterns
of local residency for bottlenose dolphins in US coastal waters (Irvine and Wells, 1972; Irvine et
al., 1981). This information, along with subsequent behavioral and genetic data on stock
identification, has been requested by government wildlife agencies and applied to the
development of plans for the management of this species.
The recognition of dolphin residency also set the stage for long-term research into life history and
population dynamics, health and the effects of environmental contaminants, and social structure.
With the advent of large-scale dolphin mortality events around the world and increasing
recognition of human impacts on cetacean populations, this research has become an integral part
of the SDRP. Knowledge of how long dolphins live, when they reach sexual maturity, how often
they produce calves and how many calves survive, how frequently dolphins immigrate or
emigrate under normal circumstances and what constitutes “natural” mortality is crucial for
understanding how a population might respond to human impacts or a natural catastrophe.
Deviations from normal patterns can be indicative of problems requiring closer scrutiny, either
through research or intervention. Longitudinal studies of the Sarasota dolphin community have
provided the first and most complete empirical information on the age and sex structure, life
history patterns and vital rates of a living population of bottlenose dolphins (Hohn et al., 1989;
Wells and Scott, 1990; Read et al., 1993; Tolley et al., 1995; Urian et al., 1996; Wells, 1999). These
values are crucial for interpretation of health and behavioral data from the Sarasota dolphins
(Wells, 2003; Wells et al., 2004, 2005), and are used as baselines to evaluate the structure and
dynamics of other dolphin populations.
Large-scale deaths of dolphins around the world are occurring with increasing frequency, and
environmental contaminants are being found in alarming concentrations in the tissues of
dolphins. Most of what is known about these events and the effects of pollutants comes from
examination of carcasses, with the information coming too late to be of benefit to living animals.
Knowledge of the health status of dolphin populations can aid management agencies in being
proactive in their response to potential problems. The health assessment program involving the
Sarasota dolphins traces the health of individuals through time, evaluates the overall health of
the population from year to year, and relates health and reproductive parameters to levels of
environmental contaminants. The SDRP has been expanding this research by investigating
biomarkers of environmental contaminants and their effects (Gauthier et al., 1999), including
participating in a collaborative effort coordinated by the International Whaling Commission
(IWC, 1999). In recent years, the project has also used the detailed database and resident “cast of
characters” to identify and call scientific and management attention to the effects of other human
activities such as entanglement in fishing gear (Wells and Scott, 1994; Wells et al., 1998), boat
strikes (Wells and Scott, 1997), boat disturbance (Wells, 1993; Nowacek et al., 2001a) and human
feeding of dolphins (Cunningham-Smith et al. in press; Wells and Nowacek, 2001).
Long-term study is an effective means of investigating changing anthropogenic impacts on
dolphins, and it allows the incorporation of developing technology to improve the effectiveness
of the research. For example, concerns from early indications that increasing boat traffic might
affect dolphin distributions (Wells, 1993) were compounded through documentation of collisions
between boats and dolphins and by correlations between the timing of collisions and heavy
traffic (Wells and Scott, 1997). This documentation led to an observational and experimental
study of dolphin behavioral responses to approaching boats (Nowacek et al., 2001a). As a result of
this work the project is learning that boats are a source of disturbance for Sarasota Bay’s
dolphins, especially in shallow water. One indication of the intensity of this problem is the fact
that during daylight hours, a powerboat passed within 100 meters of the focal dolphin once every
six minutes (Nowacek, 1999). Experiments have been conducted to measure fine-scale, subtle
behavioral responses to boat approaches, and to relate these to boat noise levels reaching the
dolphins. As Florida’s human population increases, and as small boats gain increasing access to
shallow water dolphin habitat, monitoring of trends will be important for management of this
Long-term studies have also provided important insights into dolphin social behavior, and have
provided the basis for comparison with other studies at different sites. For example,
interpretations of signature dolphin whistles from early recordings have been informed by
subsequent recordings over many years. One study demonstrated that dolphins recognize
whistles as names based on information contained in the whistle structure rather than the voice
of the producer – a first for non-human animals.
Years of observations and genetic sampling in Sarasota Bay have also provided a unique window
into reproductive success for both females and males. The importance of maternal
age/experience is clear from comparisons of females with known reproductive histories (as
documented through Earthwatch surveys), showing much higher calf survivorship for older,
more experienced mothers (Owen, 2001; Wells, 2003). Additionally, early descriptions of the
occurrence of strong adult male pair bonds in Sarasota Bay (Wells et al., 1987) led to more
detailed observations to try to understand the long-term stability and ecological versus
reproductive functions of the pairs (Owen and Wells, 2001). Paternity analyses indicate that
paired males in Sarasota Bay sire disproportionately more calves than do unpaired males,
providing clear support for the reproductive advantage and possible function of this basic social
unit (Duffield et al., 1994, 2002; Wells et al., 2001a).
In all of these examples, the ongoing, long-term observations of the SDRP have resulted in,
contributed to, or enhanced information arising from the various studies.
The primary objectives of the SDRP are to continue surveys to provide continuity and
consistency to the long-term dolphin sighting database, and to support focused studies being
conducted concurrently by SDRP staff, visiting investigators and graduate students. Earthwatch
volunteers have provided essential support for survey efforts since 1982, with the Earthwatch
project acting as the single most important component of this long-term research program. The
value of the Earthwatch project is in its contribution to the research program as a whole, through
real-time information on the locations and status of the identifiable residents of Sarasota Bay, and
through the continuing development of the long-term database of occurrence, social associations,
habitat use and reproductive histories. The database is mined intensively for a variety of projects,
and it establishes a basis for future research that may involve emerging biological or conservation
issues. The consistency of data collection facilitates trend analyses over long periods of time.
Volunteers may have opportunities to participate directly or indirectly in most of the activities
described below, planned and funded for the next three years.
Population Structure, Dynamics and Stock Identification
Through long-term monitoring, the project is able to establish the range of variability of
population parameters within a wild population. Inter-annual trends in population parameters
(Wells and Scott, 1990) can be examined relative to environmental factors such as the occurrence
of red tides, in potential response to human management decisions such as the 1995 commercial
fishing net ban, or relative to the health of the population. Vital rates can also be compared to
estimates from other populations, such as Tampa Bay (Wells et al., 1996a), Charlotte Harbor
(Wells et al., 1996b) and Pine Island Sound (Wells et al., 1997); all three of these nearby areas are
the focus of ongoing research. The intensive coverage provided by monthly teams supported
through Earthwatch and other sources will allow the project to continue to obtain empirical
measures of vital rates, such as natality, fecundity, recruitment, loss, immigration and
Nearly every member of the Sarasota dolphin community is identifiable from well-documented
natural markings, markings applied during capture-release efforts or, in the case of young calves,
from close association with a well-known mother. This knowledge provides the basis for an
abundance measure. The maturity status is known for most of the females, providing the basis
for fecundity measures. Frequent surveys allow detailed monitoring of the presence or absence of
each of the community members, and improve the probability of detecting births. Early detection
of births is crucial, because newborns are subject to higher mortality than other age classes and
might not be documented if they were born and lost between less-frequent surveys. Frequent
monitoring also increases the probability of documenting changes in identifying characteristics of
individuals (Scott et al., 1990b; Wells, 2002). Documentation of the disappearance of young or
poorly-marked animals, coinciding with recovery of stranded carcasses, can help to direct genetic
analyses to try to confirm the identity of the dead animal. Previous sighting records also help to
identify the most appropriate place to return stranded dolphins following treatment at Mote
Marine Lab’s Whale and Dolphin Hospital (Gorzelany and Wells, 1995), or to return dolphins
collected from the waters of the central west coast of Florida (Wells, Bassos-Hull and Norris,
The population dynamics data collected during this project are used to validate and refine a
model for the health assessment of dolphin populations (Wells et al., 2004). The intent is to use
measures of dolphin health as predictors of trends in dolphin populations. Rather than waiting
for carcasses to appear as an indication of health problems as has been the case to date (e.g.
Duignan et al., 1996), wildlife managers with NOAA Fisheries would like to have advance
warning of potential problems. This process would allow them to be proactive in their response.
Initially, blood chemistry and hematology data collected during capture-release projects were
used to develop a scoring system for quantifying the health of individual dolphins. These data
were also collected during single seasons in Matagorda Bay, Texas and Beaufort, North Carolina
and over multiple years in Sarasota. These individual scores have been applied to developing a
health index at the population level. This system is currently being revised to incorporate
additional parameters beyond blood data, and to apply different approaches to evaluation of
population health status (Hall et al., in review). To further test and refine this system, it is
necessary to continue to follow individual cases through time, and to relate population vital rates
to the population health scores. Though blood sampling for health assessment was initially
accomplished with the assistance of Earthwatch, subsequent sampling is continuing through the
support of a variety of other entities.
Environmental Contaminants and Effects
Research in recent years has resulted in the collection of blubber, blood and milk samples for
measurement of environmental contaminant concentrations (especially PCBs and DDT), and
examination of a variety of potential biomarkers of contaminants and their effects (Erickson et al.,
1995; Lahvis et al., 1995; Vedder, 1996; Gauthier et al., 1999; IWC, 1999; Wells et al., 2000a, 2000b;
2001b; Schwacke et al., 2001; Wells, et al. 2005). Blubber contaminant analyses have recently been
completed, paving the way for evaluation of the potential biomarkers. Analyses of data from
seasonal sampling will lead to a more complete understanding of the dynamics of contaminant
distribution, compartmentalization and mobilization.
Preliminary contaminant findings from summer samplings (Wells et al., 2005) demonstrate the
expected pattern for a bio-accumulating top predator. Males accumulate contaminants
throughout their lives, reaching exceedingly high concentrations in the oldest males (over 800
parts per million in one 43-year-old). Females transfer much of their own body burden to their
calves through lactation. Because of the longer time to first birth as compared to subsequent
calving intervals, first-born calves have higher concentrations of contaminants than do
subsequent calves. This finding is consistent with the high level of first-born mortality recorded
from project surveys. Continued monitoring of the community will be essential for evaluating
reproductive success of females relative to contaminant loads, for identifying losses to the
community and potentially for establishing exposure histories for the sampled dolphins based on
contaminant loads in their core areas.
A long-term goal of the research program has been to relate, quantitatively, dolphin distributions
and movement patterns to prey abundance and distribution. Through the support of NOAA
Fisheries, the project staff are conducting such a multi-year study in Sarasota Bay. Initial
identifications of prey species of importance have been accomplished through observations and
from stomach content analyses (Barros and Wells, 1998). Additional information is being derived
from concurrent fatty acid signature analyses and stable isotope analyses of dolphin tissues.
Volunteer surveys will play a crucial role in defining dolphin distributions during this study.
Studies of human interactions are ongoing in Sarasota Bay. The project plans to continue to
monitor the human feeding of dolphins in southern Sarasota County, where evaluation and
education activities to date indicate a need for increased law enforcement efforts (Cunningham-
Smith et al., in press). The surveys are the primary means of monitoring human feeding activities.
The project will continue to be responsive to emerging issues of human interactions. As an
example of a very direct mitigation of a human interaction, an Earthwatch team helped to rescue
a well-known dolphin trailing approximately 1,600 feet of fishing line that was cutting though
her flukes (Wells et al., 1998). Motoring alongside the slowly swimming animal, the team was
able to cut most of the line away from her body, and the remainder came off soon thereafter.
Increasing concerns regarding depredation of recreational fishing gear, with the loss of three
long-term Sarasota Bay resident dolphins to fishing gear in two months in early 2006, are leading
to development of education and mitigation measures in collaboration with the National Marine
Social Structure and Dynamics
Photo-identification surveys provide “snapshots” of the composition of groups of dolphins. Over
time, repeated sightings of individuals and members of different age and sex classes have led to
the identification of patterns of social association (Wells et al. 1987). By tracking individuals
through time and through different age classes, it is possible to examine the influence of age or
maturity status on social patterns (Wells et al., 1987; Wells, 1991; Connor et al., 2000; Wells, 2003).
Already the project has recorded more than 1,000 sightings of some individuals over more than
three decades. The familial lineages cross at least four generations of residents. Continued
observations of these long-lived animals facilitates refinement of conclusions regarding social
association patterns, permits better definition of the range of variation of such patterns and
allows the project to take advantage of natural experiments that may illuminate the relative
importance of demography, kinship or previous associations in defining the groups that are
observed (e.g. Owen, 2001; Owen and Wells, 2001). It also facilitates comparison with other sites
(Connor et al., 2000; Quintana-Rizzo and Wells, 2001) and other species (Norris et al., 1994; Wells
et al., 1999). Several concurrent graduate research projects make use of Earthwatch sighting
information for locating their focal animals or for sighting data for social association analyses.
Mating System and Reproductive Success
Earthwatch surveys provide an important perspective to this ongoing study of dolphin mating
systems and reproductive success. Social association patterns recorded during the
breeding/calving season provide insights into the mating system when examined relative to the
timing of birth (gestation is 12 months) and relative to genetic paternity tests (Duffield et al., 1994;
Wells et al., 2001). The Sarasota Bay dolphins do not engage in monogamy (Wells et al., 1999).
Findings to date indicate a high level of genetic exchange with other communities, and suggest
that larger male size, increased male age and pair bonding with another adult male contribute to
male reproductive success (Wells et al., 2001; Wells, 2003). However, the sample size of matched
paternity tests, morphometrics and social associations needs to be increased in order to provide
conclusive results. Female reproductive success is measured through tracking of the fates of
offspring. Given the extended reproductive lifespan of females (over 40 years) as determined
through Earthwatch observations, continued monitoring will be required to fully evaluate the
factors influencing female reproductive success.
The project has become involved in internet-based curricula and distance learning over the last
several years, initially as a result of Earthwatch-sponsored teachers joining the teams, and now as
a result of federal funding to disseminate the information from this dolphin program to the
Chicago area, Sarasota and other venues as they develop. The project staff expect to expand these
capabilities over the next few years and to develop formal programming through the efforts of
Mote Marine Laboratory and Chicago Zoological Society education staff.
The project will continue to use the photo-identification and analytical techniques that have
become the standard for this program and others (Wells, 1986; Wells and Scott, 1990; Wells et al.,
1987; Urian and Wells, 1996) in order to facilitate comparisons with the existing database and
previous publications. Photo-identification surveys will be conducted to attempt to resight as
many of the inhabitants of the study area as possible. In addition to recording tag scars and
freeze-brands from dolphins handled previously, individually distinctive natural markings on
the dorsal fin will be photographed. These markings include nicks and notches, bends, overall fin
shape and patterns of white scarring. This approach has been used with great effectiveness with
bottlenose dolphins in a number of areas in addition to Sarasota (see Scott et al., 1990 and Würsig
and Jefferson, 1990 for reviews).
The Sarasota surveys will involve teams of up to five Earthwatch volunteers and one or two staff
members. The research team will use a small powerboat to survey Sarasota Bay, south Tampa
Bay and coastal Gulf of Mexico waters on up to 10 days per team, weather permitting. The survey
boat will leave from Mote Marine Lab and follow established survey routes to allow for
quantification of patterns of habitat use. Dolphins encountered along the survey routes will be
recorded and observed to determine activities and social patterns. Selection of specific survey
route segments depends largely on weather conditions and tides.
Upon sighting dolphins, the boat will slowly approach parallel to the school. Observers will
estimate the numbers of dolphins in the school and the number of calves born during the
calendar year. Photos will be taken by research staff as soon as the situation is optimal. Initial
sighting location will be marked on a nautical chart. Time of sighting, initial and general heading
of the dolphins and activities will be recorded. A suite of environmental measures will be taken,
including surface water temperature, depth, sea state, tide and weather conditions. Latitude and
longitude will be obtained from a hand-held GPS unit or later from nautical charts. Team
members may also record location and other data on dolphin foraging events during sightings.
Note: While volunteers will have ample opportunity to take personal pictures of dolphins, they
will not be photographing dolphins for photo-identification. Volunteers will provide much-
needed assistance with various research tasks during observations, including spotting dolphins,
recording data called out by staff and taking GPS readings and environmental data.
Staff members download, label and backup digital photos each day. Fins in photographs are
compared to a master identification catalog. The master catalog consists of color photographs and
the associated original slides and digital images. Initial sorting uses gross fin characteristics to
narrow the field for consideration. Final confirmation of matches is made visually by consensus
of experienced staff members. The catalog presently contains over 3,000 individuals from the
central west coast of Florida. New animals will be added to the master catalog. Since this is
primarily a field-oriented project, there is limited opportunity for laboratory-based work.
Volunteers will have an opportunity to assist with photo-identification in the evenings or on days
when weather precludes boat operations. A computer has been provided at the Earthwatch
apartment with photo-identification tools.
17. RESULTS AND OPPORTUNITIES
While the results of this program have and will continue to contribute to scientific research on
dolphin populations, the most important benefits will hopefully be to the dolphins themselves.
The SDRP has played a key role in shaping the conservation and management of bottlenose
dolphins and it continues to be recognized by government wildlife management agencies as a
model program. SDRP researchers are frequently called upon by agencies such as NOAA
Fisheries, the Marine Mammal Commission, the IUCN Cetacean Specialist Group and others for
consultations, and are contracted to test hypotheses and methodologies. Dr. Wells is a member
and past chair of the Atlantic Scientific Review Group, established as a result of the 1994
amendments to the Marine Mammal Protection Act; in this capacity, he is called upon to provide
input on bottlenose dolphin issues.
Since the research program’s inception in 1970, the database has led to numerous peer-reviewed
papers, contract reports, presentations at scientific meetings, popular articles and books and
invited university and public presentations. It is expected that the results of the proposed
research will continue to be published in such journals as Marine Mammal Science, Journal of
Mammalogy, Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology and the Canadian Journal of Zoology. Recent
findings were described in 25 presentations given during the Biennial Conference on the Biology
of Marine Mammals, held in San Diego in December 2005.
The SDRP project site serves as a training center for marine mammal researchers from around the
world. Scientists from China, South Africa, Italy, Scotland, Portugal, Spain, England, Mexico,
Canada, Brazil, Costa Rica, Taiwan, Argentina, Pakistan, Australia, Russia, Guatemala, Germany,
Colombia and Japan have come to Sarasota to observe the program as a model for potential
application in their own countries. In addition, the SDRP provides training opportunities for
interns through Mote Marine Laboratory. The program also provides thesis opportunities for
graduate students, especially through the Master’s and doctoral programs of the Ocean Sciences
Department of the University of California, Santa Cruz (where Dr. Wells has an appointment as
Adjunct Associate Professor), the University of South Florida and through the joint MIT/Woods
Hole Oceanographic Institution doctoral program.
18. LITERATURE CITED
Barros, N.B. and R.S. Wells. 1998. Prey and feeding patterns of resident bottlenose dolphins
(Tursiops truncatus) in Sarasota Bay, Florida. J. Mammalogy 79(3):1045-1059.
Caldwell, M.C., D.K. Caldwell and P.L. Tyack. 1990. Review of the signature-whistle hypothesis
for the Atlantic bottlenose dolphin. Pp. 199-234 In: S. Leatherwood and R.R. Reeves (eds.).
The Bottlenose Dolphin. Academic Press, San Diego.
Connor, R.C., R. Smolker, and A.F. Richards. 1992a. Two levels of alliance formation among male
bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops sp.). Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 89: 987-990.
Connor, R.C., R. Smolker, and A.F. Richards. 1992b. Dolphin alliances and coalitions. Pp. 415-442
In Coalitions and Alliances in Humans and Other Animals (Eds. A.H. Harcourt and F.B.M. de
Waal). Oxford Univ. Press, New York.
Connor, R.C., R.S. Wells, J. Mann and A.J. Read. 2000. The bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops spp: Social
relationships in a fission-fusion society. Pp. 91-126 In: J. Mann, R.C. Connor, P.L. Tyack and
H. Whitehead, eds., Cetacean Societies: Field Studies of Dolphins and Whales. University of
Chicago Press. 433 pp.
Cunningham-Smith, P., D.E. Colbert, R.S. Wells, and T. Speakman. In press. Evaluation of
human interactions with a wild bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) near Sarasota Bay,
Florida, and efforts to curtail the interactions. Aquatic Mammals.
Duffield, D.A. and R.S. Wells. 1986. Population structure of bottlenose dolphins: 2. Genetic
studies of bottlenose dolphins along the central west coast of Florida. Contract Rept. to
National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Fisheries Center. Contract No. 45-WCNF-5-
00366. 10 pp.
Duffield, D.A. and R.S. Wells. 1991. The combined application of chromosome, protein and
molecular data for investigation of social unit structure and dynamics in Tursiops truncatus.
Pp. 155-169 In: (A.R. Hoelzel, ed.) Genetic Ecology of Whales and Dolphins. Rep. int. Whal
Commn Spec. Iss. No. 13. Cambridge, U.K.
Duffield, D.A. and R.S. Wells. 2002. The molecular profile of a resident community of bottlenose
dolphins, Tursiops truncatus. Pp. 3-11 In: C.J. Pfeiffer, ed., Molecular and Cell Biology of
Marine Mammals. Krieger Publishing Company, Melbourne, FL.
Duffield, D.A., R.S. Wells, J.S. Lenox, and T. Moors. 1994. Analysis of paternity in a free-ranging
bottlenose dolphin society by DNA fingerprinting and behavioral coefficients of association.
International Symposium of Marine Mammal Genetics, 23-24 September, La Jolla, CA.
Duignan, P.J., C. House, D.K. Odell, R.S. Wells, L.J. Hansen, M.T. Walsh, D.J. St. Aubin, B.K.
Rima, and J.R. Geraci. 1996. Morbillivirus infection in bottlenose dolphins: Evidence for
recurrent epizootics in the western Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. Marine Mammal Science.
Erickson, K.L., L. DiMolfetto-Landon, R.S. Wells, T. Reidarson, J.L. Stott, and D.A. Ferrick. 1995.
Development of an interleukin-2 receptor expression assay and its use in evaluation of
cellular immune responses in the bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops truncatus. Journal of Wildlife
Fazioli, K. L. 1999. Distribution, relative abundance, and community structure of coastal
bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the Gulf of Mexico off Sarasota, Florida. M. Sc.
Thesis, University of California, Santa Cruz. 106 pp.
Fazioli, K.L., S. Hofmann, and R.S. Wells. In press. Use of coastal Gulf of Mexico waters by
distinct assemblages of bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops truncatus. Aquatic Mammals.
Gauthier, J.M., H. Dubeau, E. Rassart, W.M. Jarman and R.S. Wells. 1999. Biomarkers of DNA
damage in marine mammals. Mutation Research 444:427-439.
Gorzelany, J.F. and R.S. Wells. 1995. Long-term resightings of two stranded bottlenose dolphins
(Tursiops truncatus) rehabilitated and reintroduced into southwest Florida waters. 11th
Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, 14-18 December, Orlando, FL.
Hall, A.J., B.J. McConnell, T.K. Rowles, A. Aguilar, A. Borrell, L. Schwacke, P.J.H. Reijnders, and
R.S. Wells. 2006. An individual based model framework to assess the population
consequences of polychlorinated biphenyl exposure in bottlenose dolphins. Environmental
Health Perspectives. 114 (suppl.1): 60-64.
Hall, A.J., R.S. Wells, J.C. Sweeney, F.I. Townsend, B.C. Balmer, A.A. Hohn, and H.L. Rhinehart.
In review. Annual, seasonal and individual variation in hematology and clinical blood
chemistry profiles in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) from Sarasota Bay, Florida.
Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part B: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
Hill, M., L. Sayigh, and R.S. Wells. 2001. Use of habituation-dishabituation playback design to
study aspects of whistle perception in bottlenose dolphins. 14th Biennial Conference on the
Biology of Marine Mammals, 28 Nov-3 Dec, Vancouver, BC (Oral Presentation).
Hohn, A.A., M.D. Scott, R.S. Wells, J.C. Sweeney, and A.B. Irvine. 1989. Growth layers in teeth
from known-age, free-ranging bottlenose dolphins. Marine Mammal Science 5(4): 315-342.
International Whaling Commission. 1999. Planning workshop to develop a program to
investigate pollutant cause-effect relationships in cetaceans: Pollution 2000+. Journal of
Cetacean Research and Management (Special Issue 1):55-72.
Irvine, B. and R.S. Wells. 1972. Results of attempts to tag Atlantic bottlenosed dolphins (Tursiops
truncatus). Cetology 13: 1-5.
Irvine, A.B., M.D. Scott, R.S. Wells, and J.H. Kaufmann. 1981. Movements and activities of the
Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops truncatus, near Sarasota, Florida. Fish. Bull. 79(4): 671-
Irvine, A.B., R.S. Wells and M.D. Scott. 1982. An evaluation of techniques for tagging small
odontocete cetaceans. Fish. Bull. U.S. 80:135-143.
Janik, V., L.S. Sayigh, and R.S. Wells. 2006. Signature whistle shape conveys identity information
to bottlenose dolphins. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 103:8293-8297.
Lahvis, G.P., R.S. Wells, D.W. Kuehl, J.L. Stewart, H.L. Rhinehart, and C.S. Via. 1995. Decreased
lymphocyte responses in free-ranging bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) are associated
with increased concentrations of PCBs and DDT in peripheral blood. Environmental Health
Moors, T.L. 1997. Is menage a trios important in dolphin mating systems? Behavioral patterns of
breeding female bottlenose dolphins. M.Sc. thesis, University of California, Santa Cruz. 95
Nowacek, D.P. 1999. Sound use, sequential behavior and ecology of foraging bottlenose dolphins,
Tursiops truncatus. Ph. D. dissertation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods
Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA. 196 pp.
Nowacek, D.P., P.L. Tyack, R.S. Wells and M.P. Johnson. 1998. An onboard acoustic data logger
to record biosonar of free-ranging bottlenose dolphins. J. Acoustical Soc. of America 103:1409-
Nowacek, D.P., P.L. Tyack, and R.S. Wells. 2001b. A platform for continuous behavioral and
acoustic observation of free-ranging marine mammals: Overhead video combined with
underwater audio. Marine Mammal Science 17:191-199.
Nowacek, S.M. 1999. The effects of boat traffic on bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops truncatus, in
Sarasota Bay, Florida. M.Sc. Thesis, University of California, Santa Cruz. 42 pp.
Nowacek, S.M., R.S. Wells and A.R. Solow. 2001a. The effects of boat traffic on bottlenose
dolphins, Tursiops truncatus, in Sarasota Bay, Florida. Marine Mammal Science 17:673-688.
Norris, K.S., B. Würsig, R.S. Wells and M. Würsig. 1994. The Hawaiian Spinner Dolphin. University
of California Press, Los Angeles. 435 pp.
Owen, C.F.W. 2001. A comparison of maternal care by primiparous and multiparous bottlenose
dolphins, Tursiops truncatus: Does parenting improve with experience? M.Sc. thesis,
University of California, Santa Cruz. 36 pp.
Owen, E.C.G. and R.S. Wells. 2001. Spatial and temporal measures of association complicate
hypothesis of ‘resident’ vs. ‘roving’ male bottlenose dolphins in Sarasota, Florida. 14th
Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, 28 Nov-3 Dec, Vancouver, BC
Priester, C., L. Sayigh, and R.S. Wells. 2001. Signature whistle production rate of an orphaned
free-ranging bottlenose dolphin calf. 14th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine
Mammals, 28 Nov-3 Dec, Vancouver, BC (Poster presentation).
Quintana-Rizzo, E. and R.S. Wells. 2001. Associations and habitat use of resident and non-
resident bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops truncatus, in the Cedar Keys, Florida: Insights into
social organization. Canadian Journal of Zoology 79:447-456.
Read, A.J., R.S. Wells, A.A. Hohn, and M.D. Scott. 1993. Patterns of growth in wild bottlenose
dolphins, Tursiops truncatus. J. Zool., Lond. 231:107-123.
Reynolds, J.E. III, R.S. Wells and S.D. Eide. 2000. Biology and conservation of the bottlenose
dolphin. University Press of Florida. 289 pp.
Sayigh, L.S., P.L. Tyack, R.S. Wells, and M.D. Scott. 1990. Signature whistles of free-ranging
bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus: Stability and mother-offspring comparisons. Behav.
Ecol. and Sociobiol. 26: 247-260.
Sayigh, L.S., R.S. Wells, and P.L. Tyack. 1993. Recording underwater sounds of free-ranging
dolphins while underway in a small boat. Marine Mammal Science. 9(2):209-213.
Sayigh, L.S., P.L. Tyack, R.S. Wells, M.D. Scott, and A.B. Irvine. 1995. Sex difference in signature
whistle production of free-ranging bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops truncatus. Behav. Ecol.
Sayigh, L.S., P.L. Tyack, R.S. Wells, A.R. Solow, M.D. Scott and A.B. Irvine. 1999. Individual
recognition in wild bottlenose dolphins: A field test using playback experiments. Animal
Sayigh, L., L. Williams, J. Plant, and R.S. Wells. 2001. Modifications of signature whistles in adult
female bottlenose dolphins. 14th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, 28
Nov-3 Dec, Vancouver, BC (Poster presentation).
Schwacke, L., P. Fair, G. Mitchum, R.S. Wells, A. Hohn, and L. Hansen. 2001. Polychorinated
biphenyl concentrations from bottlenose dolphins along the southeast U.S. coast and a
probabilistic assessment of adverse health effects. 14th Biennial Conference on the Biology of
Marine Mammals, 28 Nov-3 Dec, Vancouver, BC (Poster presentation).
Scott, M.D., R.S. Wells and A.B. Irvine. 1990a. A long-term study of bottlenose dolphins on the
west coast of Florida. Pp. 253-244 In: S. Leatherwood and R.R. Reeves (eds.). The Bottlenose
Dolphin. Academic Press, San Diego.
Scott, M.D., R.S. Wells, A.B. Irvine, and B.R. Mate. 1990b. Tagging and marking studies on small
cetaceans. Pp. 489-514 In: S. Leatherwood and R.R. Reeves (eds.), The Bottlenose Dolphin.
Academic Press, San Diego. 653 pp.
Sellas, A.B. 2002. Population structure and group relatedness of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops
truncatus) in the coastal Gulf of Mexico using mitochondrial DNA and nuclear microsatellite
markers. M.Sc. thesis, University of California, Santa Cruz.
Sellas, A.B., R.S. Wells, and P.E. Rosel. 2005. Mitochondrial and nuclear DNA analyses reveal
fine scale geographic structure in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the Gulf of
Mexico. Conservation Genetics.6:715-728.
Shippee, S.F., F.I. Townsend, F.L. Deckert, R. Deckert, A.A. Hohn, and R.S. Wells. 2001.
Monitoring forestomach temperature changes on instrumented free-swimming Tursiops
truncatus to determine foraging effort and success. 14th Biennial Conference on the Biology of
Marine Mammals, 28 Nov-3 Dec, Vancouver, BC (Poster presentation).
Tolley, K.A., A.J. Read, R.S. Wells, K.W. Urian, M.D. Scott, A.B. Irvine, and A.A. Hohn. 1995.
Sexual dimorphism in a community of wild bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) from
Sarasota, Florida. J. Mammalogy 76:1190-1198.
Urian, K.W. and R.S. Wells. 1996. Bottlenose dolphin photo-identification workshop: March 21-
22, 1996, Charleston, South Carolina. NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-SEFSC-393.
Urian, K.W., R.S. Wells and A.J. Read. In review. Community structure of bottlenose dolphins,
(Tursiops truncatus), in Tampa Bay, Florida Marine Ecology Progress Series.
Urian, K.W., D.A. Duffield, A.J. Read, R.S. Wells, and D.D. Shell. 1996. Seasonality of
reproduction in bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops truncatus. J. Mammalogy.77:394-403.
Vedder, J. 1996. Levels of organochlorine contaminants in milk relative to health of bottlenose
dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) from Sarasota, Florida. M.Sc. thesis, University of California,
Santa Cruz. 35 pp.
Waples, D.M. 1995. Activity budgets of free-ranging bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in
Sarasota Bay. M.Sc. thesis, University of California, Santa Cruz. 61pp.
Watwood, S., P.L. Tyack, and R.S. Wells. 1999. Signature whistle sharing between allied male
bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops truncatus. 13th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine
Mammals, 28 Nov – 3 Dec, 1999, Maui, HI (Oral presentation by Watwood).
Wells, R.S. 1986. Population structure of bottlenose dolphins: 1. Behavioral studies along the
central west coast of Florida. Final Rept. to the National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast
Fisheries Science Center, Contract No. 45-WCNF-5-00366. 58 pp.
Wells, R.S. 1991. The role of long-term study in understanding the social structure of a bottlenose
dolphin community. Pp.199-225 In: K. Pryor and K.S. Norris (eds.), Dolphin Societies:
Discoveries and Puzzles. Univ. of California Press, Berkeley. 397 pp.
Wells, R.S. 1993. The marine mammals of Sarasota Bay. Chapter 9, pp. 9.1 - 9.23 In: Sarasota Bay:
Framework for Action. Sarasota Bay National Estuary Program.
Wells, R.S. 1994. Determination of bottlenose dolphin stock discreteness: Application of a
combined behavioral and genetic approach. Pp. 16-20 In: K.R. Wang, P.M. Payne, and V.G.
Thayer (compilers), Coastal Stock(s) of Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin: Status Review and
Management. Proceedings and Recommendations from a Workshop held in Beaufort, NC, 13-
14 September 1993. NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-OPR-4. 120 pp.
Wells, R. S. 1999. Long-term perspectives from research with free-ranging bottlenose dolphins,
Tursiops truncatus. Reproduction Workshop Report. European Research on Cetaceans 12:380-
Wells, R.S. 2001a. Evaluating health risks in free-ranging bottlenose dolphin populations. Invited
Plenary Presentation, 32nd Annual Conference of the International Association for Aquatic
Animal Medicine, April 28 – May 2, 2001, Tampa, FL.
Wells, R.S. 2001b. Population health issues in the bottlenose dolphin. Marine Mammal Major
Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) Workshop. 14th Biennial Conference on the Biology of
Marine Mammals, 28 Nov-3 Dec, Vancouver, BC (Oral presentation).
Wells, R.S. 2002. Identification methods. Pp.601-608 In: W.F. Perrin, B. Würsig, and J.G.M.
Thewissen, eds., Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals. Academic Press, San Diego, CA.
Wells, R.S. 2003. Dolphin social complexity: Lessons from long-term study and life history. Pp.
32-56 In:F.B.M. de Waal and P.L. Tyack, eds., Animal Social Complexity: Intelligence,
Culture, and Individualized Societies. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.
Wells, R.S. and S. Nowacek. 2001. Human interactions with Florida’s marine mammals. Viewing
Marine Mammals in the Wild: A Workshop to Discuss Responsible Guidelines and
Regulations for Minimizing Disturbance. 14th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine
Mammals, 28 Nov-3 Dec, Vancouver, BC (Oral presentation).
Wells, R.S. and M.D. Scott. 1990. Estimating bottlenose dolphin parameters from individual
identification and capture-release techniques. Pp. 407-415 In: P.S. Hammond, S.A. Mizroch
and G.P. Donovan (eds.). Individual Recognition of Cetaceans: Use of Photo-Identification and
Other Techniques to Estimate Population Parameters. Rep. Int. Whal. Commn. (Spec. Issue No.
12). Cambridge, U.K.
Wells, R.S. and M.D. Scott. 1994. Incidence of gear entanglement for resident inshore bottlenose
dolphins near Sarasota, Florida. Page 629 In: W.F. Perrin, G.P. Donovan, and J. Barlow (eds.),
Gillnets and Cetaceans, Rep. int. Whal. Commn (Special Issue 15.).
Wells, R.S. and M.D. Scott. 1997. Seasonal incidence of boat strikes on bottlenose dolphins near
Sarasota, Florida. Marine Mammal Science 13:475-480.
Wells, R.S. and M.D. Scott. 1999. Bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus (Montagu, 1821). Pp. 137-
182 In: S.H. Ridgway and R. Harrison (eds.), Handbook of Marine Mammals, Vol. 6, the Second
Book of Dolphins and Porpoises. Academic Press, San Diego, CA. 486 pp.
Wells, R.S. and M.D. Scott. 2002. Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus and T. aduncus). Pp. 122-
128 In: W.F. Perrin, B. Würsig, and J.G.M. Thewissen, eds., Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals.
Academic Press, San Diego, CA.
Wells, R.S., K. Bassos-Hull and K.S. Norris. 1998. Experimental return to the wild of two
bottlenose dolphins. Marine Mammal Science 14:51-71.
Wells, R.S., D.J. Boness and G.B. Rathbun. 1999. Behavior. Pp. 324-422 In: J.E. Reynolds, III and
S.A. Rommel, (eds.), Biology of Marine Mammals. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington,
DC. 578 pp.
Wells, R.S., D. Duffield, and A.A. Hohn. 2001a. Reproductive success of free-ranging bottlenose
dolphins: Experience and size make a difference. 14th Biennial Conference on the Biology of
Marine Mammals, 28 Nov-3 Dec, Vancouver, BC (Oral presentation).
Wells, R.S., S. Hofmann and T.L. Moors. 1998. Entanglement and mortality of bottlenose dolphins
(Tursiops truncatus) in recreational fishing gear in Florida. Fish. Bull. 96(3):647-650.
Wells, R.S., A.B. Irvine and M.D. Scott. 1980. The social ecology of inshore odontocetes. Pp. 263-
317 In: Herman, L.M. (ed.) Cetacean Behavior: Mechanisms and Functions. New York: J.Wiley &
Sons, 463 pp.
Wells, R.S., M.D. Scott, and A.B. Irvine. 1987. The social structure of free-ranging bottlenose
dolphins. Pp. 247-305 In (H.H. Genoways, ed.) Current Mammalogy Vol. 1. Plenum Press, New
Wells, R.S., W.M. Jarman, T.K. Rowles, and J. Whaley. 2000a. The role of population monitoring
in evaluation of the possible effects of organochlorines on bottlenose dolphin health and
reproduction. Atlantic Coast Contaminants Workshop, June 23-25, Maine (Presented by
Wells, R.S., T.K. Rowles, and H.L. Rhinehart. 2001b. Pollution 2000+: Bottlenose dolphin
sampling progress during 2000-2001. 53rd Meeting of the Scientific Committee of the
International Whaling Commission, July 6-12, Hammersmith, U.K.
Wells, R.S., H.L. Rhinehart, L.J. Hansen, J.C. Sweeney, F.I. Townsend, R. Stone, D. Casper, M.D.
Scott, A.A. Hohn, and T.K. Rowles. 2004. Bottlenose dolphins as marine ecosystem sentinels:
Developing a health monitoring system. EcoHealth 1:246-254.
Wells, R.S., K.W. Urian, A.J. Read, M.K. Bassos, W.J. Carr, and M.D. Scott. 1996a. Low-level
monitoring of bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops truncatus, in Tampa Bay, Florida: 1988-1993.
NOAA Tech. Mem. NMFS-SEFSC-385.
Wells, R.S., M.K. Bassos, K.W. Urian, W.J. Carr, and M.D. Scott. 1996b. Low-level monitoring of
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EXPEDITION PACKING CHECKLIST
This Expedition Briefing
Photocopies of your passport, flight itinerary and credit cards in case the originals are lost
or stolen; the copies should be packed separately from the original documents
Visa and/or passport (if necessary)
Certification of inoculation (if necessary)
Clothing/Footwear for Fieldwork
Hat with an effective brim and a strap to keep it on in the wind
Footwear with non-marking soles (Topsiders or Timberland deck shoes, old tennis sneakers,
Teva sandals, surf shoes or dive booties work well)
Lightweight clothing with at least one long-sleeved shirt and one pair of long pants for sun
Sunglasses with safety strap (polarized recommended) that allow good vision near (for data
sheets) and far (for spotting/observing dolphins)
Warm clothing for layering, such as fleece jacket and pants, winter coats, thermal underwear,
gloves, ski hats, etc. for January-February teams (it will be COLD on the water in winter!)
Waterproof wind pants for January-February teams
Clothing/Footwear for Leisure
Clothing for free time and travel
Swimsuits (summer teams)
Small daypack/rucksack for transporting personal gear (dry space on the boat is limited)
Drybag or plastic sealable baggies (e.g. Ziploc) for protecting equipment such as camera from
dust, humidity and water
Waterproof sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher
Insect repellent spray
Water bottle(s) able to hold at least one liter
Note: Bedding and bath towels will be provided.
Personal toiletries (biodegradable soaps and shampoos are recommended)
Antibacterial wipes or lotion (good for “washing” hands while in the field)
Personal First Aid kit (e.g. anti-diarrhea pills, antibiotics, antiseptic, itch-relief, pain reliever,
bandages, blister covers, etc.) and personal medications
Camera, film, extra camera battery (digital cameras often have a delay that prevents good
action shots of dolphins; if possible, volunteers may want to bring both to see which suites
the situation best) *
* The Principal Investigators request that any plans for publication of photos taken during the
expedition be discussed with them prior to the expedition.
Flashlight/torch or headlamp with extra batteries and extra bulb
Digital wristwatch (water-resistant)
Field guides for birds, shells, etc.
Favorite recipes for feeding your team of up to five people
Books, games, etc. for use during free time