We at MORAES are proud to announce a research collaboration with Dolphin Research Center (DRC). Located in Grassy Key, FL, DRC is a non-profit facility that aims to utilize education and research to promote a balanced coexistence between marine mammals and humans within the environment. 

DRC has graciously opened their doors (or more accurately their lagoons) to allow MORAES to begin a research project focused on collecting marine mammal data through the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or more commonly referred to 

Cetacean Aerial Survey                               Project

as, drones. With the incorporation of UAVs into the field of researching marine mammals, countless possibilities can now be considered as a result of their versatility, and the scope of data collection can now be broadened dramatically. With the help of DRC and their resident population of bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus located within their facility, we at MORAES can focus our efforts on increasing the project's efficiency before hopefully expanding our efforts into wild bottlenose dolphin populations. study general marine mammology in South Florida associated with (but not limited to) microbiome work, virology, morphometry, metabolomics, and genetics.

This partnership between DRC and MORAES is an excellent example of two organizations working together toward one common goal: conservation. Additionally, by standardizing research methods for non-invasive data collection techniques with UAVs, we hope to promote advances in the marine mammal conservation community and provide DRC with imperative data in the fields of animal husbandry, alternative data collection methods, conservational efforts, and educational outreach.

In addition to the MORAES team of Kirk Linaje (Principal Investigator), Stacy Assael, Shannon Jones, and TJ Morrell (Key Researchers), we are proud to introduce three incredibly passionate individuals who will be assisting us with this project.

Kaylie Anne Costa

Caitlin Hill

Kaylie Anne Costa

Graduate Research Assistant

My name is Kaylie Anne Costa and I received my B.S. from the University of Miami, majoring in both Marine Science and Microbiology/Immunology, with a minor in Chemistry. Thus far in my career, my focus has been with research projects related to marine animal and ocean health, but I am also incredibly passionate about ocean exploration and conservation. In 2018 I was a 2018 NOAA Hollings Scholar which allowed me to create Saipan’s first coral nursery. Currently, I am a PhD student at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine researching analytical chemistry techniques to study physiological changes in marine organisms in response to various toxins and disease. I hope to continue to support healthier oceans with my future research. 

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Caitlin Hill

Drone Pilot / Project Intern

My name is Caitlin Hill and I have spent more than 13 years living and working here in South Florida. I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Marine Science & Biology from the University of Miami, where I also worked as a benthic ecology laboratory assistant to Dr. Diego Lirman, focusing on coral restoration and seagrass health assessments. Since 2014, I have been working on NEPA evaluations, permit-compliance & arborist inspections, and mitigation monitoring projects as an environmental consultant with Metric Engineering. Prior to that, I worked as a naturalist at the Biscayne Nature Center educating the public about South Florida’s coastal ecosystems and in 2018 I became an FAA certified remote pilot to aid in wildlife and habitat surveys, etc. Currently, I am earning my master's from Johns Hopkins University in Environmental Science & Policy with a focus on sustainability.

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Alice E. Frye

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Alice E. Frye

DRC Project Intern

Alice earned her B.S. degree in Marine Biology from Eckerd College in 2014 and then went on to earn her Master of Professional Science degree from the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science in Marine Conservation/Marine Mammal Science in 2019. Her research interests include marine mammal behavioral ecology, conservation, and responses to human presence and climate change in the ocean environment. She is also passionate about using new technology to increase the ability to study marine mammals and the oceans in general. She hopes to first earn her PhD in the fall of 2021 focusing on marine mammal behavioral ecology and conservation, and then continue to try to solve complex conservation issues with her research.

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