I arrived at Stefanie's house outside of Gainesville on Sunday and we've hit the ground running! We're currently busy fixing up the trailer, getting the boat engine serviced, buying equipment, setting up living accommodations, charging endless batteries, etc.

We're very excited for our two field assistants to arrive soon and thought we would make a post to officially introduce the whole team!

Dr. Stefanie Gazda is the Biology Online Major Coordinator for the University of Florida. She first came to Cedar Key as a Masters student to document the area's famous driver barrier behavior. She then established the Cedar Key Dolphin Project to turn her work here into a long-term study. She is generously providing lodging for the team at her home this summer and is helping Becca lead the field season with her expertise of the area and driver-barrier behavior.

Jolinde recently graduated with a bachelors in science from the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands. She has a diverse background of experience from studying lowland gorilla behavior to restoring coral reefs. She first got experience working with marine mammals when she joined a study on snubfin dolphins in Australia. Jolinde will be assisting with our project for the full duration of the field season (3 months) before starting a masters degree in the fall.

Monica got her bachelors of science from California State University. She also recently finished the marine mammals postgraduate diploma program at the University of St. Andrews and is considering pursuing a PhD in marine mammal science. She has extensive experience working on large ships as a marine mammal observer and has worked on small-scale marine mammals research projects in Chile and Scotland. Monica will be with CKDP for the first half of the season before returning to Scotland to walk at graduation from St Andrews.

Stefanie and I are looking forward to welcoming Jolinde and Monica on Sunday!

Alyssa is currently pursuing a BSc from the University of Florida and will graduate in December. Her research experience includes  ruminant nutrition, and dairy calf behavior and welfare. She hopes to pursue a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine in the future with an aquatic medicine focus with research in behavior or the One Health Initiative. She is a volunteer with the UF Aquatic Animal Health and Stranding Network. Alyssa will be with CKDP three days a week for the entire season.

Stay tuned for updates once we get out on the water!