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Wednesday, May 23rd, 2001

Another day of research mixed with some interesting stuff. First session, Emanuelle and I were scheduled to enter in observational records into the computer.
Mike Hiapo straight jump
Mike gives Hiapo a straight jump spit command (click for larger picture)
Every day, someone is scheduled to take observations of the dolphins at certain times of the day to keep a record of what the dolphins are doing in those times. It helps to keep records of a certain time period of the day to see if any of the dolphins behaviours have changed significantly in those time periods. By entering the data into a filemaker document, the various things can be graphed to show decline or increase in frequency over time.

We worked out a system for doing it that worked quite well. Emanuelle read off the stuff I needed to put in, and I entered it into the document. We must have done a hundred records once we were finished! Still, even when things are going well with a job like that, we were glad when we decided to stop.

Second session, I was Object monitor for a visual cross modal session with Phoenix. I did this job a few days ago and enjoyed it very much. I like being so directly involved in this type of research.
Hiapo towards camera
NO HIAPO! Not towards the camera! (click for larger picture)
My job was to hold up a choice for a matching object at the side of the tank. Probably the neatest thing about this job is you don't have any idea what the dolphin is doing since you're wearing goggles with the lenses painted over.They have you wear these to keep you from potentially looking in a particular direction and thereby giving the dolphin a possible reason to go a particular direction. Because of this, I couldn't see anything at all and had no idea of whether Phoenix was in front of me or not. Standing there, at times I'd hear a loud exhale in front of me and feel something pushing and proding at the object I was holding. If it was a metal bowl sample object, Phoenix would practically pull you into the water when she chose it... it was quite funny.

I took a look at that same computer that I fixed last year to see if I could fix the current problem with it. It's a fairly difficult problem to solve, so I'll have to spend a little more time on it before I'll know what I'll have to do to fix it.

For third session, I was assigned to be session monitor and so had a lot of free time to play with.
Geoff with Hiapo
Geoff working with Hiapo (click for larger picture)
Mike really wanted to get some video of his session with Hiapo, and I was happy to lend out my talents for a while since I wasn't doing much anyway. Session monitor's job is just to make sure the trainers have a sanitary bucket of water to clean off their hands and any toys for the dolphins during session, and to give the trainers the second bucket of fish to end session with.This leaves a lot of time in between that I was able to use to film and photograph Mike's session.

Mike is definitely a great trainer. Hiapo isn't known to be the most enthusiastic or well behaved dolphin of the others, but Mike managed to keep him interested the whole time and even get some really unique games to play with him. One of the coolest things i saw him do was to take out a xylophone and play some notes to Hiapo, and then ask for a behaviour, like tail wave. Hiapo figured out that when Mike played a note, he was supposed to do a behaviour. He didn't quite figure out that different notes meant different behaviours, but the xylophone wasn't of the best quality and was hard to hear a difference in notes. I can understand why Hiapo didn't understand the difference.

In fourth session, Daisy was to be Hiapo's trainer and Ashleigh, Geoff and I were to have a local interaction with the big guy. Ashleigh was going to take pictures of Craig's session with Ake and Phoenix (he was training both of them), so she went first. I offered to take pictures of Criag's session as well, but I don't think I took any particularly good ones.
Hiapo with ball
Hiapo doing a pec carry command with a ball (click for larger picture)
I was using Ashleigh's film camera to take the pictures so I don't know how they turned out,and I missed most of her session with Hiapo as a result. I hear it went fairly well. When Geoff stepped up, I immediately found a position to take pictures from about ten feet away from the stand on the edge of the tank. At first, H man seemed content to do all the stuff Geoff was asking of him. That didn't last long.After a few minutes, and after introducing a ball, H started completely ignoring Geoff's commands and swam over undernieth Ake and Phoenix and just sat there. The girls tried their best to ignore him, but he was right in the middle of what they were doing so it must have been a rather difficult thing to do. A few times, I could hear Ake squawk and meep at Hiapo as he swam underneith them. Daisy put H on a timeout, but he didn't seem to care. He still didn't come back to station and just drifted around the tank near the girls. I guess women are more important to him than food... =)

Daisy decided to take the timeout a step further and put the rail back in.
Geoff and Hiapo in window
Geoff tried working with Hiapo in the window... lots of fun! (click for larger picture)
Even then, he didn't seem to care at first. He did eventually come back and watch Daisy put the straps on with Geoff, sitting there wondering what they were doing. Then, Daisy stepped down from the stand and so did Geoff, and everyone ignored him for a while. They figured they'd give him a dose of his own medicine. If he doesn't want to pay any attention to them, then they won't either... =) It worked.He stayed at station, waiting patiently until Daisy decided to take the rail back out.He did seem in better spirits after that, but at this point the session was getting close to wrapping up and I still hadn't had my local. Daisy told me my session would be rescheduled so I could have a proper local rather than a quick 5 minute session with a dolphin who's mind wasn't on the task at hand. I had no problem with that idea. Watching Hiapo during the session with Geoff reminded me of how laid back H man really is. He doesn't put much effort into anything really, but he still likes to play games with you. You just have to find out what it is he wants to do, something I've only seen once or twice.

I can't believe we only have two more full days at lab! These two weeks have gone by even faster than last year!

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