This year’s post-molt migration is proving to be unusual, to say the least. Four of our tracked females crossed the dateline during their trip to sea, more than we have ever seen from a single group of tracked seals. One of those animals, nicknamed Phyllis, has broken the distance record for a tracked animal by a significant margin. You can read more about Phyllis here. Have a look at the live tracking data for our seals at SeaTurtle.org: http://www.seaturtle.org/tracking/?project_id=1213
One female is already close to home, as you can see from this map. T167, or Beverly, is only about 500km from Año Nuevo and has been travelling around 80km/day for the last few weeks, so she may show up on shore within the next 7-10 days. Normally, females return from mid-December through February to give birth to their pups. Beverly’s early arrival suggests that she is probably not pregnant this year. She will probably stay on shore for a few days before returning to sea to continue foraging, giving us a small window to recover her satellite tags and collect samples and morphometrics (body size measurements) from her.
Stay tuned for more information, the main part of our field season is rapidly approaching and we’re excited to share our experiences, stories, and findings.
Rachel Holser (Graduate Student)