North Carolina Maritime Museum’s Natural Science Curator, Keith Rittmaster, will discuss his research on local dolphin identification at the Beaufort Historic Site’s Welcome Center. His Photo-ID dolphin research project has been going on since 1985. Keith, his wife Vicky Thayer, and other colleagues have been permitted through NOAA Fisheries to study dolphins by making regular trips to photograph the dolphins’ dorsal fins. Rittmaster has approximately 1,200 different dolphins identified in an online database that allows people to match the fin photos, and in turn, leads to discoveries in bottlenose dolphin migrations, associations, genetic stocks, and birthrates.
“The information we learn about where the dolphins go and how they’re using the coast is used by the National Marine Fisheries to help determine fishing regulations. We’re not just doing this for the fun of it,” Rittmaster said. “Federal fish biologists also use it to learn about the genetic pools of bottlenose dolphin populations.” Rittmaster’s work is important to know what may have caused a stranding and, ultimately, the death of a marine mammal.
This fascinating presentation is free and open to the public, but seating is limited so reservations are required. To make reservations, email Denise Finley at email@example.com, call the Beaufort Historic Site at 252-728-5225, or stop by the Welcome Center at 130 Turner Street.