Today was another photo-sorting day- with the wind still high and a lot of data yet to be processed, we camped out on the couches and filtered photos from various sightings into identifiable and non-identifiable categories, then started to draw and match the individuals to the photos. You’d think there would be photo-ID software that could match fins for us, but with this much data on the line and no access to CIA-style facial recognition software (pick out the secret spy from the crowd at the airport using nothing but a few keystrokes and a paperclip!), it’s more accurate to just do it this way. Or so I’m told… Anyways, Kaja and I will soon know the catalogue quite well, and have already begun to recognize many of the more distinctive fins. I’m prioritizing memory space for the identifiable Sousa sahulensis (Australian humpback dolphins), since they’re our main study organism, but several Tursiops aduncus (Spotted bottlenose dolphins) are easy to spot from a hundred meters (hooray, metric system!) away. “There’s Hook!” we’ll yell on the boat. “There’s Steps again, and her juv!”
I wonder if they begin to recognize us, or our boats. They don’t seem that interested, and we don’t seem that easily distinguishable from the water. Humans are weird.
Anyways, since it was a day off-water I took off at 5 for the bush, camera in hand and water bottle in my Dr. Seuss backpack. Along the way I was met by a little friend I’d seen wandering about a few days earlier:
She’s a little dog, and I’ve seen her dwarfed by cars and bikes alike as she trots along behind various passers-by on the street. I didn’t know what she was looking for, besides adventure and I guess a random American to adopt. I whistled to her, and she came running over, tail tucked between her legs and head low. I know, stray dogs can be a risk and I had no guarantee she was friendly, but she looked so nervous. I sat down on the sidewalk and offered her my hand, which she took as a sign to drop the scaredy-dog act and leap into my lap. Little dogs with a lot of personality often can’t contain their feelings inside of their bodies, I’ve learned, and it was no different for her; she spun in circles, sat down, rolled over, leapt up, sat down again, ran around me twice, and then set about washing my face as thoroughly as she possibly could. I named her Baby, and we set off for our bush walk together.
Baby liked going for a walk, but got very nervous when I left the path. Sniffing around in the bush for a few seconds, she wandered back onto the clear dirt and waited for me there. I, however, needed to take a photo of a rotting automobile carcass in the shrubbery (for you, Ryan dear):
Anyways, with darkness falling she led me back out of the bush, stopping to wait when I fell behind (classic Agent Red Squirrel, watching ants move a dead grasshopper or taking photos of little birdie footprints in the red dirt). I worried about her so close to the street as we left the footpaths, but she listened when I called and followed close to me all the way back to Casa de Sousa, where we had a good scratch and I wondered how to find her home, if indeed she had one. She was a bit too well-fed and trained to be a stray, but she didn’t have a collar nor, it seemed, any inclination to leave what was promising to be a very satisfying rub-down, even with darkness falling. Happily, a jeep passing by came to a sudden stop in front of us, and she wagged happily over to the opening door.
“There you are!” the driver said, stepping out. “Been looking for you. She jumped the fence,” he told me a bit sheepishly. I told him I was glad she’d found her people.
“Cheers for that, mate!” he waved as they headed home.
Thanks for the lovely walk, little friend!