I study Biological Sciences at University of Birmingham.

I came to Archipelagos to join the Marine Mammal Team and I am working on the dolphin behaviour project, looking at the behaviours of Delphinus delphis (short-beaked common dolphin). Behavioural data taken during a sighting includes behavioural states (swimming or diving) and behavioural events (bow, breach, leap, tail slap, etc.). The environmental data taken on a boat survey includes boat presence, weather conditions, seabirds and floating marine litter. We plan to compare the behaviour data collected on boat surveys with other data, such as environmental data to look for relationships such as particular habitat use or human presence.
As a part of the behaviour project I go on boat surveys and either record and narrate footage with the film camera for later BORIS software analysis, or gather the data our boat survey team collect in the behaviour data sheet for upload to the online datasheet and comparison with the video footage. The most recent research plan for the dolphin behaviour project has just been completed and sent to our supervisors for feedback.

I arrived here at the end of August and am staying until June, so a total of 10 months. As I am here for a long time I have plenty of time to collect enough data to combine with the backlog of data already collected by Archipelagos and analyse for significant relationships.

On a typical day I will work in the office doing data entry for environmental or monk seal data, or BORIS analysis. I also take part in other surveys such as macroplastics or monk seal survey that are part of other Archipelagos’ projects. If I am on the same island as the boats then we often go on boat surveys to collect environmental, seabird and marine litter data, and hopefully have a dolphin sighting and collect behaviour data.
I really enjoy boat surveys as they are so varied and give me the opportunity to collect data for my project. This is a good opportunity to get out of the office and do hands-on field work.
One of the new skills I have learned is being comfortable talking on camera in order to narrate the BORIS videos. For this I have to be able to recognise and name specific behaviours quickly and accurately in order to make later analysis using the BORIS software more efficient. Initially I found this challenging, but it soon became a regular part of boat surveys, so I adjusted quickly.

Sophie Tatman