Dolphins and Shrimp (A Unique Pairing)


Photo courtesy Jessica Weiss, Outer Banks Center for Dolphin Research. [LOC #13416]
The 8th Annual Outer Banks Shrimp Cook off will be held on Sunday November 5th, 2017 from 12:00-3:00 pm at the Ocean Boulevard Restaurant in Kitty Hawk, NC. Local chefs will compete to prepare the best shrimp dish. Attendees may sample all shrimp dishes and vote for their favorite. All proceeds will benefit a local 501 c(3) non-profit, the Outer Banks Center for Dolphin Research (obxdolphins.org).

The Outer Banks Center for Dolphin Research, established in November 2008, is a 501 c(3) non-profit organization engaged in a long-term photo-identification study of bottlenose dolphins in the northern Outer Banks of North Carolina. Our research is a continuation of a photo-identification study conducted for more than 11 years aboard the Nags Head Dolphin Watch. We seek to learn more about the population ecology, movement patterns, and behavior of coastal bottlenose dolphins in the Outer Banks and to expand public knowledge and concern for these marine mammals.

Seasonal abundances and movement patterns of bottlenose dolphins

Very little is known about the population size and identities of bottlenose dolphins that inhabit the waters surrounding the Outer Banks. We believe that the numbers of dolphins in this area change seasonally with the most dolphins occurring in the sounds during the summer. Understanding how population size changes throughout the year can influence important management decisions for conserving bottlenose dolphins. Greater insight into their seasonal movements can illustrate site fidelity patterns and aid in determining intermixing between populations. Our goals are to study changes in population size and demographics over time and to determine the identities and residency patterns of dolphins in this area. Our research supports the Mid-Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin Catalog (MABDC) 1, a collaborative effort between researchers on the U.S. Atlantic Coast to gain a better understanding of bottlenose dolphin stock structure and movement patterns. By comparing dolphins observed in the Outer Banks to those seen in other areas of the east coast, we can learn more about their longer range seasonal movement patterns.

 

The Outer Banks Center for Dolphin Research collects opportunistic photo-identification data aboard the Nags Head Dolphin Watch 2, while conducting educational programs about local dolphin conservation. Click here 3 to see the 2016 on board photo-identification catalog! 

 

 Biologists run these dolphin tours as part of their research on these beloved aquatic animals, so you know this will be an interesting trip. Passengers will be able to see how researchers with the Outer Banks Center for Dolphin Research, a nonprofit organization, conduct their research and hear about some of the discoveries from more than a decade of studies and monitoring. Some of the hundreds of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins in the area show up so frequently they've even been given names, like “Rake,” “Scarlet,” and “Onion.” Onion was first identified in Beaufort, North Carolina almost 20 years ago, and he has been sighted there almost every winter since. It has been discovered that Nags Head is his summer home, along with an extensive family of more than 100 members. In his early years, Onion had an unfortunate encounter with a boat propeller and his damaged fin has made him one of the most easily recognized dolphins around.

 

My Outer Banks had this to say about the Director of Outer Banks Center:

While the dolphins may seem like the stars of this story – and they are, in their own right – there would be no story without people like Jessica. Originally from New Jersey, she graduated from Rutgers University with a B.S. in Marine Sciences and from Duke University with a M.E.M. (Master of Environmental Management) with a Coastal Management concentration. Her master's research focused on studying foraging behaviors of bottlenose dolphins in Sarasota, Florida. Since finishing her master's, Jessica has participated in research projects focusing on Stellar sea lion photo identification, bottlenose dolphin genetic sampling, and bottlenose dolphin stomach content analysis. She's worked as a naturalist for Nags Head Dolphin Watch since 2007, was the OBXCDR's scientific advisor from 2008 to 2012, and has been the president of OBXCDR since 2013. Her current research focuses on examining the population dynamics of bottlenose dolphins in the Roanoke Sound and their seasonal movements to other areas. 

Out on the water, it's clear that Jessica is passionate about her work. “We're not getting paid,” she laughs. “The dolphins are the reason we do this.” 

 

 
Excerpt: While the dolphins may seem like the stars of this story – and they are, in their own right – there would be no story without people like Jessica. Originally from New Jersey, she graduated from Rutgers University with a B.S. in Marine Sciences and from Duke University with a M.E.M. (Master of Environmental Management) with a Coastal Management concentration. Her master’s research focused on studying foraging behaviors of bottlenose dolphins in Sarasota, Florida.
Links:
  1. http://seamap.env.duke.edu/photoid/mabdc
  2. http://www.nagsheaddolphinwatch.com/
  3. http://obxdolphins.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/10 /2016/07/2016-catalog-for-NHDW-1.pdf