By Monica Betts - University of Pretoria MSc student.
On 25th of January 2013 I
arrived in Namibia to begin the first part of my Master’s degree under the
supervision of Dr Simon Elwen. The main purpose of my visit has been to get
some hands on training in order to prepare me for the field work phase of my
project. I will be taking over the collection of data for the long term
cetacean project currently underway in Mossel Bay, South Africa as well was
conducting my Master’s project.
During my Master’s project, I will be
working towards establishing some baseline data needed to apply static acoustic
monitoring using CPODs (echolocation
click detectors) to studying dolphin populations on the east coast of South
Africa. I will be looking into measuring the detection distance of animals and
also trying to acoustically differentiate my two study two species, the Indo-Pacific
bottlenose dolphin and the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin. If we can get this
right, then we’ll be able to use CPODs (which are relatively cheap compared to
other types of hydrophone) to improve our understanding of the distributions
and behaviour of these species by using CPODs for long term 24-hour monitoring.
When I first arrived in Walvis Bay the
terms ‘CPOD’, ‘Databases’,’ Photo-ID’ and ‘Theodolite’ were completely foreign
to me. However, over the last few weeks that has changed. I now know that a
CPOD is a device used to detect cetacean clicks over a long period of time,
photographing and identifying dolphins involves a lot more than just a good
camera, databases that are organized and detailed are essential from the start
of the project and theodolite work requires patience and attention to detail.
My experience here in Walvis Bay has been
incredible. I found I have learnt so much in a very short space of time. The
most important lesson I have learnt that is although working with dolphins involves
a lot of hard work, if it is done properly it can yield satisfying and sometime
very surprising results. I am very
grateful to have the opportunity to work with these lovely creatures and look
forward to learning more and more about them.
MONICA HAULING HER FIRST CPOD
HANNAH (RATHER CASUALLY) ASSISTING
SOME RATHER IMPRESSIVE DOLPHIN JUMPS SEEN AT THE POINT