Wednesday, June 14th, 10:15PM
I didnt have a local today, but it was still a good day. Im trying to get to bed early, so Ill try to be brief in todays entry.
John Potter, a sound specialist from Singapore, decided to come today instead of waiting until tomorrow. He seems like a nice guy, with a heavy english accent, and was very open to comment about the institutes research. In particular, while having the angular resolution demonstrated to him, he was quick to suggest things that might improve results. Hiapo wasnt doing too good today in this paradigm. While he answered correctly for every single trial when it was placed in front of him, whenever the bars were put in the apparatus, he couldnt get a correct answer. This seemed totally strange since they put the sets of bars (a set of four and a set of two, separated by a gap all mounted vertically beside each other) directly in the water by hand in almost totally the same position as the apparatus. For whatever reason, Hiapo was only able to figure out the correct side when it was put under water by hand. Brian, the guy running the paradigm, was really confused. Hiapo had 100% accuracy in previous situations, but not today. Oh well. Ellie and Hiapo had 100% accuracy in the cross-modal echolocation study.
During the angular resolution paradigm, I was up in the tower timing delays between trials along with Dr. Herman, Dr. Pack, Brian, and our special guest John Potter. The "doctors" and Brian were being very serious about what was going on, and I suppose thats understandable considering they were trying to demonstrate to their guest.
There are a few things worth mentioning from the cross-modal paradigm. In one of the trials, it was suggested that the object in the box be rotated 180 degrees from the one displayed visually (so it would be displayed upside-down). Sure enough, Ellie had no problem finding the right one out of the three choices. They were complex objects too, and her selection process was kind of funny. She almost went right by the correct answer, then did a double take and came back to it right away. I was impressed.
Just before the end of the session, Brian ducked inside the box and Hiapo was sent over just like previous trials. This time though, Brians hands were the only things in the water in the box rather than any objects. When Hiapo echo-located into the box, Brian did the butterfly hand gesture. Of course, the people watching, including myself, had no idea what Brian was doing, and seeing Hiapo do a butterfly swim after echo-locating made it seem like he was doing something wrong. Nope. He was following the hand signal in the box! It was amazing!
I spent some time watching Sean work with Akeakamai today. I thought hed have a hard time since his collar bone is broken and can only use one arm for hand signals, but Akeakamai figured it out quickly.
Akeakamai was up to her usual tricks today between sessions. She got my attention by whistling, clicking, and tail slapping and I came over to the side of the tank. When I got there, she stuck her rostrum up close to me and opened her mouth. I thought at first she was trying to get a fish handout, but when I looked closer, I saw there was a small amount of wood in her mouth. She was obviously bringing it to me to try to get a fish, and I guess it worked. Were supposed to reinforce anytime the dolphins bring us something from the tank that could potentially be hazardous to them. For instance, if someone dropped a pen in the tank, if the dolphins brought it to us, wed give them all a fish for it. You have to reinforce all of them so that its not a competition for who gets to the pen first. We cant reinforce everything though, since Akeakamai in particular used to take advantage of this system. She learned that paint chips would also get her a fish, so she began to peel off the paint from the tank walls and bring them out for her reward. Also, shes been known to take an object such as a piece of paper and hide it somewhere, bringing small chunks at a time rather than the whole thing so she can get rewarded multiple times instead of just once. Clever girl!
I realize now that I should have asked a trainer to come over by this point, but at the time I didnt think it was really necessary. I thought at the time that since she had already come to ME with the piece of wood, having me walk away would give the wrong impression. I know now it wouldnt have made any difference if I had walked away, and I have to assume a trainer would be better suited to be dealing with a situation like this. Oh well, everything worked out fine in the end.
I took the wood out of her mouth (it was more of a splinter than a piece of wood), and took it to one of the trainers. I told one of the trainers about what had happened, and she brought over a fish for each dolphin. I was told that in the future I should ask a trainer to come over if something like this happens again. Next time I will.
Tomorrows another day
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