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8

Educational Outreach '08

In 2008, we continued our educational outreach in cooperation with the Mount Zion Progressive Baptist Church Summer Camp. In addition to our two day computer laboratory based classroom modules, we added a day of data gathering on the Eckerd College research boat. Our biggest challenge this year, was the necessity of demonstrating proficient swimming skills in order to ensure a safe experience for those participating in the boating component. Scheduling of the annual maintenance of the boat and of the swimming pool had to cooperate with the unpredictable timing of summer thunderstorms in Florida. But miraculously, it all came together...

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  Students demonstrate swimming skills for participation in the data gathering phase of the research.


Following the swim test, students who demonstrated sufficient swimming skills participated in field data gathering on Boca Ciega Bay. They used two Canon EOS 2D digital cameras with 400mm image stabilized zoom lenses to capture digital images of the dorsal fins of dolphins sighted during the outing.

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  Left: Gearing up to go out on the water to gather digital images of dorsal fins; Right: Dr. Shannon Gowans
gives a brief overview of data gathering procedures and safety measures for the research cruise.


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  Left: The dolphins are rather cooperative today as one surfaces just in front of the boat;
Right: Students take aim to capture digital images of dolphin dorsal fins.


Following the boat trip, the two course modules of approximately two hours each, were delivered to a group of approximately twelve students in a two day sequence. The first module introduced basic image techniques and a brief discussion of the underlying mathematics that makes it possible. The second module in the sequence introduced material on the biological aspects of the study of dolphins and included the use of the DARWIN software to identify dolphins based on their dorsal fin outlines.

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  Left: Dr. Shannon Gowans gives a talk on the biological aspects of the study of dolphins;
Right: A student uses the software to identify dolphins from the images acquired on the boat trip.


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  Left: Another student uses the DARWIN software to identify dolphins from their dorsal fin images;
Right: Undergraduate research assistant, Scott Hale, assists students in using the software.


Overall the students seemed enthusiatic and engaged in the process, from data gathering to image analysis.

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  Students who participated in the Eckerd workshop on digital imaging
and its applications for the study of marine mammals - Summer 2008.


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