Skippers donate the use of their boats and nautical expertise for THE DOLPHIN PROJECT surveys so the teams can complete their assigned tasks. As with all vessels, the safety of the passengers/survey team is paramount for each Skipper.
Powerboats ranging from 16-35 feet are used for surveys. Each vessel is required to be legally registered, be annually inspected by the United States Power Squadron or the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary and have all the legally required safety features onboard. A seamanship course is recommended for all Skippers but is not mandatory.
Skippers are expected to know the weather, tides and currents of their zone areas to ensure the safety of the survey teams and their vessels.
The Team Leader will coordinate with the Skipper as to location of the boat, the time to meet at the dock, restrictions and ammentities of the boat and pass on that information to the team.
Skippers need to print out the Emergency-Safety Checklist, Skipper Checklist and their assigned Zone Charts. The Skipper Checklist offers reminders for required boat equipment needed for surveys.
The Emergency-Safety checklist gives guidelines for radio use in case of emergency and important numbers to call if an injured dolphin is sighted or dolphin abuse is witnessed. A VHF radio is required for safe operation of a vessel. In many cases a cell phone will work but cannot be relied upon depending on your location in the zone.
All expenses incurred for TDP surveys are tax deductible. If preferred, a small stipend is offered to skippers = $2 times the length of boat times # of engines.