Elephant seals versus white sharks at Isla Guadalupe

“Nunca lo habían hecho antes” (translation: it has never been done before)! This became our motto on our recent research trip to Isla Guadalupe, Mexico where we are studying the predator and prey interactions between northern elephant seals and great white sharks. The phrase was inspired by a documentary about the island, and it is really fun to say in a booming and dramatic voice (try it!). Isla Guadalupe, our field site, is a small …

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A Day in the Life of an Año Field Biologist

We didn’t run out of gas this afternoon, but we were dangerously close… We miraculously MADE IT all the way to Año Nuevo and back in the pouring rain without running out of gas. So as far as I’m concerned, the day was a success. Pro Tips: 1. Always be sure to check the gas gauge in your lab truck 2. Always bring rain gear. Despite being muddy and soggy, we went out in search …

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Gearing up for a Winter with elephant seals

I had never thought about how large elephant seals really are until I was standing next to a sleeping bull elephant seal for the first time, feeling exceptionally small. I have been going to Año Nuevo with the Costa Lab since April 2016 as a fortunate participant in the field course BIOE 128L, yet I had never encountered a full-grown male elephant seal until recently. The males had departed the breeding ground by the time …

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Elephant Seal Research Through the Eyes of a New Undergraduate Volunteer

As an incoming transfer student to UC Santa Cruz from inland Southern California, being able to assist with the elephant seal research conducted by the Costa Lab is an extraordinary opportunity. Last week, I had my first day out in the field with the seals; the incredible beauty of watching the sunrise while juveniles played in the waves and sparred each other was also my first introduction to Ano Nuevo State Park . So far this …

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A Long Migration

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 …

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