Nicole Teutschel at Año Nuevo State Reserve, CA--The northern elephant seal, Mirounga angustirostris, breeding season has begun! Today the TOPP E Seal Team recovered our first satellite tag of the season. The tags were recovered from Sebastian, one big adult male! Sebastian is featured online via live tracks as well as at the Elephant Seal Homecoming Days Page (coming soon!).
After a 4 week delay in Gabon, I have made it back to California. The turtles arrived late this year - 2 months late - presumably due to the delay in the start of the rainy season this year in West Africa. It was a rough trip all around but truly an adventure on all fronts and things worked out fantastically in the end! I will try to post some pictures and blogs over the coming weeks, but for now, here are some photos and a pseudo-summary of my trip in numbers...
Nicole Teutschel from UC Santa Cruz Long Marine Lab, CA-- Northern elephant seals and other local pinniped species will be featured in a film on NOVA on Tuesday, November 25th at 8 pm (local listings may vary).
We just returned from a trip to San Nicolas Island in the Channel Islands off the coast of California. We deployed 10 satellite/GPS tags on adult, lactating female California sea lions. These tags will also collect temperature, light level and depth. These data will enable us to look at not only the location of the females while they are foraging, but some of the oceanographic conditions, as well as their dive behavior. Sea lions can be quite skittish and are faster than you think when trying to catch them, but we had a successful trip. We choose adult, lactating females because i
George Shillinger returned this week from the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Barcelona. As you know, George has spent the past several years tagging leatherback sea turtles in Costa Rica, and following their migrations as they pass over the Cocos Ridge and past the Galapagos Islands on their journey to the open ocean west of South America.
In general, the days tend to be slow and quiet and mostly spent trying to keep cool. I have a favorite spot on the beach under a nice tree where I like to nap, read, write in my journal or occasionally watch TV shows and movies on my ipod, while always on the lookout for birds, lizards and other interesting wildlife. Occasionally, the Ecoguards and I will go for hikes to nearby savannahs in hopes of seeing elephants, buffalos or other wildlife. Many of the Ecoguards are former hunters and animal trackers so they excellent at following the subtle signals animals leave behind.
The field camp I am stationed at in Mayumba National Park is called Nyafessa, which means 'Mermaid' in one of the local Gabonese languages, and it is magical in every sense of the word. Nyafessa is one of the more primitive of the field camps in the park, as a permanent field camp is still under construction, so we are without running water or electricity, but it is still incredibly comfortable. There is a nearby stream where we are able to gather drinking water and shower near where it empties into the ocean.
I thought that it might be exciting for our readers to provide an angler’s perspective on the fishing and tag deployment experience off Greymouth, New Zealand. I received the following email from angler, Tom Thomson, who is featured within my birthday bluefin blog in this series, regarding our trip on August 27 - 28, 2008. - George Shillinger
After two intensive weeks of fishing, the 2008 bluefin tuna satellite tagging program had made good strides towards the goal of deploying 25 pop-up satellite tags. Although New Zealand’s winter weather hasn’t been great this season, we’ve managed to tag 21 bluefin by the end of August.
As I mentioned in a previous post, olive ridleys are not the first sea turtle to be satellite tracked in Gabon. Collaborators at seaturtle.org, the Marine Turtle Research Group and Wildlife Conservation Society have been tracking leatherback sea turtles for the last several years - and have found that they cross the entire Atlantic Ocean!