Day in the Life of a Living Dissertation

I had an incredible day out on Monterey Bay where I saw my dissertation come to life! I recently finished my thesis at UCSC with Dan Costa and my work focused on top predator hotspots for conservation along the West Coast. Not surprisingly I identified Monterey Bay as a one such top predator hotspot!  I was able to do quite a bit of field work as part of my dissertation by tagging northern elephant seals, California sea lions, Galapagos fur seals and sea lions and even sea turtles in Central Africa.  Still, much of my five years as a graduate student was spent on land, in front of my computer!


Recently, however, I had the excellent opportunity to head out on Monterey Bay to see my thesis in action!  Abe Borker, a graduate student here at UCSC in Don Croll's laboratory, arranged for a group of us to head out with Debbie Shearwater and Shearwater Journeys out of Monterey to enjoy the last of the seabirding season on the water.


As it turns out, it was an epic day out on the water and I saw my dissertation in living breathing action as we encountered a foraging hotspot that included six TOPP species! We saw foraging fin whales, blue whales, humpback whales, black-footed albatrosses, sooty shearwaters and California sea lions!  This is to say nothing of the incredible seabird diversity we encountered that day.


Blue whale


Male California sea lion


Black-footed albatross


As a HUGE fan of albatrosses, I was all smiles when we saw our first black-footed albatross.


The whole group returned to land, happy and amazed at what incredible luck we'd had.  Thank you Debbie and Abe!

Happy birders!