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Sep 2, 2013 5:27 PM by Morgan Frances - MFrances@kristv.com

New Group Tracks Dolphins In Port Aransas

PORT ARANSAS - A new marine mammals class is starting up this year at Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi. Today a professor and graduate students tested out the technology they'll be using to start tracking the dolphin pods in Corpus Christi.

It's a study that is performed in other parts of Texas, and the country, but hasn't really been explored here in Corpus Christi.

Danielle Kleinhenz, a graduate student at Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi said, "Marine biology is a new program at TAMU-CC so it's still readily expanding so this is one of the projects that we've taken on."

Kleinhenz is part of the new class at Texas A&M - Corpus Christi where they study marine mammals.

Using something called a theodolite, they track various points the dolphin breaches the surface. That information is sent to a computer program that creates a map of where the dolphin is going while Kleinhenz enters additional information about the mammal they're following.

"The population here in Corpus Christi hasn't been very well defined so we're going to use photo id to hopefully get a good estimation of the amount of animals that we have here," Kleinhenz said.

By taking measurements of the exact locations of, for instance, dolphins, they'll be able to better understand what influences them in a positive way and what pushes them away.

"How many animals we have, where their hot spots are, whether or not boats are interfering with the pods and changing their behaviors, maybe interrupting certain social behaviors, feeding times, things like that," the graduate student listed.

Meanwhile, another person snaps pictures of the dolphin's dorsal fin. And like a human's fingerprint, the group can document individuals within the population in hopes of learning more about this species.

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