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 …

Continue reading

Déjà Vu

Translocations Season 1 Recap Last season, Obedient Juvie (a.k.a. O.J.) and Curious Juvie (a.k.a. C.J.) helped me out with my first pilot study to test heat flux biologgers (what are these?) on freely swimming juvenile elephant seals. Not only did we learn what worked and what didn’t work in terms of sensor attachment and configuration, we also found out that translocations can take some unexpected plot turns, like having to drive 3 hours south to another elephant …

Continue reading

Translocations: Science with some Plot Twists

The anticipation I felt was more than I expected—every couple of hours I was logging into the Argos system database to check the latest satellite hits. Where were my seals going? Earlier that day: As a first-year graduate student in The Costa Lab at UC Santa Cruz, I was conducting my first field experiment with juvenile elephant seals (research performed under NMFS permit #19108 and IACUC approval). After finding two healthy juveniles that had not yet started …

Continue reading

Coping with Lots of Fat: A Marine Mammal’s Perspective

Imagine this scenario: You’re going for a jog outside, but seeing some snow on the ground, you decide to put on a thermal long-sleeve shirt underneath your sweatshirt. Right as you step out the door, you sure are glad you added that extra layer. After a few minutes into your jog, you notice you’re breathing heavy and your heart is beating faster (…especially if you’re out of shape). Your skin might get red, feel hot …

Continue reading