Yasas! Intern Alannah from the Marine Mammal Field here, currently doing a three-month internship at the Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation. I’m currently pursuing a master’s in Marine Mammal Science at the University of Miami and have targeted a project directed towards behavioral assessment, delving into different subgroups of Delphinus delphis. My aim during my internship has been to collect as much data as possible to further update Archipelagos’ photo identification catalog for the past 5 years. This has allowed me to have more in-depth knowledge regarding this species since they’re not as common in the Caribbean, where I’m from. Furthermore, I have a vast dataset that will allow me to identify the different subgroups throughout the years that have been sighted, in order to better understand the distinct behaviors in the Northern Aegean Sea of this endangered species.

As part of my journey here, the marine mammal boat surveys have aided in my development for my professional career, where I’ve learned about bioacoustics and hydrophone use, fieldwork assessments, as well as data entry and logging. In each boat survey, during a sighting of marine mammal species, we collect data on the behavior of the species in order to further analyze it in different interns’ projects, such as mine. After the fun fieldwork part is done, I return to the office to continue elaborating my research proposal and thesis draft titled “Behavioral Assessments of Delphinus delphis of Different Subgroups to Better Understand Abundance and Distribution in the Northern Aegean Sea”.

For the analysis of my project, we used the software SOCPROG. This is a program used to analyze animals’ social structures, which aids in identifying the different pods or subgroups sighted within the study area of Delphinus delphis.  After analyzing the association level, a cluster analysis will be performed to represent the different subgroups visually. This will also provide a value for the Half-Weight Index (HWI) of each individual in a subgroup, creating a matrix that joins all the possible values. The HWI provides numerical values that convey the level of association between pairs of dolphins, ranging from 0 (indicating no association) to 1 (reflecting a perfect association). The study of relationships among individual Delphinus delphis using indices of association yields significant insights into their social behaviors, modes of communication, and cooperative activities. It contributes to a deeper understanding of their interaction dynamics, establishing social bonds and transmitting information within the group.

Being able to study, process, and analyze some valuable insights into these species–among all the other amazing marine mammals I’ve had the opportunity to study and see during my internship–just reminds me I’m on the right track towards my professional career. Having the photo identification catalog updated will further help the work of Archipelagos research teams in the future in order to aid the conservation of this rare species. The catalog and subgroups identification project is a fundamental key in providing further insight into population distribution and abundance throughout the years.



Alannah Sofía Orengo Fernández (Puerto Rico) , MSc in Marine Mammal Science, University of Miami