Citizen Scientists Find my Seal!

Back in August, we started the story of Toby and Xena (link), two juvenile elephant seals that are part of my graduate research investigating how marine mammals thermoregulate while diving.

I don’t know if researchers are allowed to have favorites, but Toby definitely had me and my team feeling grateful for such a cooperative seal, which made the translocation part of our fieldwork a breeze.

The only thing I can say that was slightly more of a hassle was when he decided to haul out at Piedras Blancas instead of coming back to Año Nuevo. Since finding our seals at the end of their translocation is essential for recovering the tags and downloading data, this meant a 3.5-hour drive down to Piedras Blancas instead of a short half hour drive north of Long Marine Lab (yellow star on map).


Compared to Año Nuevo, the expansive coastline at Piedras Blancas makes it more challenging to find our seal on one of the many small beaches amongst the bluffs. All we have to go on initially is satellite hits that tell us the seal is somewhere in the area, but the location estimate could have an error greater than 1 mile.

Continue reading on 60° North Science Blog

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