Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Seal tracking

This amazing site posts updates as tagged seals surface and connect with their satellites, http://www.seaturtle.org/tracking/?tag_id=37597. It's Dan Costa's lab project and you can sign up for updates here. What a treat to get an email from a traveling seal!

The list shows maps of exactly where the seals have been, how far they've traveled. It's a wonderful archive and illustrates the variety of paths the seals take out in the ocean. Another posted July 1, an adult male turning south to return from Alaska.

What amazing facts electronic technology has made possible for us! Thanks for posting all this great data.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Misty morning

Elephant seals don't discriminate on the basis of size. This assortment rests in the morning mist of June Gloom. The large adult male is a new arrival, heralding his brothers soon to come for their annual molt.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ocean report sounds the alarm

A high-level international workshop convened by IPSO met at the University of Oxford earlier this year. It was the first inter-disciplinary international meeting of marine scientists of its kind and was designed to consider the cumulative impact of multiple stressors on the ocean, including warming, acidification, and overfishing.

The 3 day workshop, co-sponsored by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), looked at the latest science across different disciplines.

The 27 participants from 18 organisations in 6 countries produced a grave assessment of current threats — and a stark conclusion about future risks to marine and human life if the current trajectory of damage continues: that the world’s ocean is at high risk of entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history.

Delegates called for urgent and unequivocal action to halt further declines in ocean health. (click for press release)

The report summary (released 21 June 2011) outlines the main findings and recommendations. The full report will be released at a later date.

Title: Rogers, A.D. & Laffoley, D.d’A. 2011. International Earth system expert workshop on ocean stresses and impacts. Summary report. IPSO Oxford, 18 pp. For a full list of participants, please see table at the end of the long version.

Report Summary: long version / shorter version.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Historic photos

Carole Adams and John Bogacki have compiled historic photos of the Piedras Blancas Light Station into an Arcadia Images of America book, Point Piedras Blancas. It makes available photos that otherwise would have been limited to those who were able to visit the Light Station and explore its archives.

Shipwrecks figure significantly -- what's a lighthouse for? The people who sailed the ships and those who maintained the light station are all documented here. The Fresnel lens, now on display in Cambria, is diagrammed as well as presented in photos, providing technical detail that is helpful in understanding how the lighthouse functioned.

And what tales the photos tell! Captain Thorndyke, second head lighthouse keeper (1879-1906) and his third wife, Margaret are pictured on their wedding day, after second wife ran off to San Francisco. Presumably, the sprightly Margaret knew what she was getting into -- she was the younger sister of his first wife. She stayed -- another photo shows her in front of Thorndyke's Store. She and the captain moved into a cottage behind the store after he retired at age 75 in 1906.

Thanks for making this treasure trove of local history available to us, Carole and John!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Amazing survival

This female seal slept on the beach today, showing off her almost completely healed shark bite scar. The wound must have nearly bitten off her right flipper. How she continued to hunt and feed herself and heal is nothing short of amazing. These animals have remarkable recuperative powers.

The young males on the beach have been active lately, several of them sparring in the water as well as on land. The beach remains well populated. Even though it was foggy today, they moved down close to the water to lie on the cool, wet sand.

In less happy news, six Gray Seals were shot in Cape Cod.

"While no one condoned violence against the animals, the news has resurrected the difference of opinion about the seals in Chatham," Vivian Yee writes in the Boston Globe.

The conflict sounds similar to the shooting of three elephant seals here in California that was solved by NOAA. Human wildlife conflicts typically end up with the wildlife the loser.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Following a seal

Electronic tags make it possible to record where seals go when they are at sea. One tagged female came to Piedras Blancas and the research team removed her tag and retrieved the data from it.

Team leader Patrick Robinson writes:

We downloaded the instruments from that seal (ID = GM778) and the data look great. She foraged up off the Canadian coast and ventured near a few seamounts up there.

She was also an interesting diver. Most of her dives were of typical depth and duration, but she had one remarkable dive to 1180 meters lasting more than 71 minutes! (see attached dive profile).

We have been using a website (seaturtle.org) to display our tracking data to the public. Last season's data are available on these two pages. Check back for updates on our most recent deployments!

I've also attached a couple of photos of our team weighing seals. Weights are obtained at deployment and recovery so we can gauge foraging success during each trip.