Nicole Marie Teutschel at Long Marine Lab, Santa Cruz, CA--As adult northern elephant seals are at sea, juveniles dominate the beaches at Año Nuevo. Most TOPP E Seal research focuses on adult animals, this fall there was we partnered with Sean Hayes at NOAA to test some new tagging technology with a biologging study with juvenile E Seals.
There are many types of biologgers, or tags that can record all types of data such as physical characteristics of the ocean, sound, and even physiological data like heart rate. Now there is a new tag that can record acoustic signals from little tags worn by thousands of marine fish, shark and cephalopod species in the Eastern North Pacific. Acoustic tags emit a signal unique to each animal. Researchers use stationary and mobile acoustic receiver stations that can record animal's signals as they swim by.
A juvenile northern elephant seal. These little guys are our number one choice to test new tagging technology because they are small enough to transport, and can make a quick trip across the Monterey Bay in only a day or two.
This project is testing a tag which acts as one of these acoustic monitoring stations... only instead of being stationary, or pulled by a ship, this reciever is small enough to be worn by elephant seals. Combined with time-depth-recorder tags and satellite tags, we can use seals to detect acoustically tagged animals' latitude, longitude and depth!
Right now these cool new tags are on a test run... or maybe we should say test swim! Two juvenile elephant seals are wearing acoustic receiver tags on a mini-migration across the Monterey Bay. Soon we will recover the tags and learn whether seal borne acoustic monitors will hold up to the elephant seal durability test.
A juvenile e seal wearing a satellite tag (on his head), the acoustic reciever tag (shoulders), and a little time-depth-recorder tag (back). This photo was taken as we released the seal at Hopkins Marine Station in Monterey. The seal will now swim back across the bay to Año Nuevo where we will recover his tags.