The start of this week did not look promising as the weather kicked up over the weekend and we had some large swells come in. The waves don’t look like much, but they are much larger when you are on the water trying to navigate in a small zodiac. If the swells are too big it is not safe for us to cross and we have to call off field work for the day. It’s always a bummer when that happens – especially when you find out you got up before 5 am only to turn around and have to go home!
This is pretty much the nature of a lot of fieldwork we do…when the weather is bad we often can’t work because we either can’t get to our field sites or because the animals don’t like the bad weather either. Sea lions don’t seem to like the rain and when it really pours they all just go into the water – this of course is less of an issue now because of the drought. Anyways – the moral of the story was that it was a bumpy ride, but we made it on and off the island both days!
Catching was a little tricky this week because in addition to more waves, the tides were pretty high. This means that a lot of the beach disappears and there is less room for us to work. We still managed to put in a successful week and it looks like if everything goes well we will be able to finish up captures next week. We put out our last tag on a 3 year old female – the second GPS tag to go out. This brings our total to 7 tags deployed, although we really only have data on 6 animals because one of the tags is malfunctioning. This may not seem like a lot, but we are all pretty excited given that these are the first data ever on tagged sea lions from Año Island. It is also really rewarding for me to see this little project be successful given that in the beginning we weren’t even sure if the tags were going to arrive in time!
These are the updated locations for the 6 transmitting animals. The two figures on the left are the GPS tracks of the male from last week and our newly tagged female (bottom). Two of the juveniles are still hanging out around the Farallones (153505, 153504), two are still around Ano (153502 and 153507), one is down south by Point Sur (153501), and the last male has made his way up to Fort Bragg. It looks like he might have run into a good prey patch up there as he has been in the same location for the last couple of days, giving off lots of transmissions!
We have been getting some good dive data from the two juveniles wearing the GPS tags – less so from the female on the right because we just put her tag on a few days ago. So far we have received data on over 500 dives for the guy on the left. This is really my first time working with transmitted dive data – we are very spoiled in that we almost always get our tags back with all of the archived data and so don’t depend on the transmitted data. I am quite pleased with the amount of data we are getting and think it is pretty representative of what they are doing in the environment. It will be interesting to see if the dive behavior of WCSL 135-15 changed when he left the area and headed up to northern California so stay tuned!
NMFS Permit #s 17115, 17952
View from the mainland looking towards the island
View from the backside of the island looking towards the mainland
Backside of the island looking north