Back in late March and early April, we put out 5 tags on weaned elephant seal pups. We chose weaners whose mothers had carried TOPP satellite tags. Our hope was to see if their first trip to sea looked anything like moms. Four of the 5 weaners headed north up the coast. The other one went southwest. The tags we put on had a limited life--only 3 months, so we knew we weren't going to get their whole trip before the tag gave out. Several of the tags lasted longer than we expected--one is still transmitting. The weaner that is wearing the remaining transmitting tag is in the Gulf of Alaska!!! Much farther than we expected!
This project has been more successful than we hoped, giving us a much better idea of what weaners do their first year at sea. It only seems appropriate that the tags we put out (see photo at left) resemble banana slugs, the UCSC mascot.
Photo by Jerome Fiechter