It’s been a full few days for SOCAL-BRS, mainly working Rissos dolphins around Catalina Island. We tried to get further offshore yesterday and today but rougher offshore weather pushed us back in. We have had a few firsts the last few days including our first 12+ hour deployment on a Rises and our first experiment with two then three simultaneously tagged Rissos at the same time (see above and below: taken under NMFS permit #14534, credit A. Friedlaender)
We have seen huge amounts of squid (and squid fishing boats) in the shallow waters around the Channel Islands and, not surprisingly, some of the squid-eating predators like Rissos dolphins chasing them in these areas. We have specific rules and protective measures regarding proximity to land and so sometimes have to just observe and obtain baseline diving, feeding, and echolocation behavior on these animals when they are closer in to shore. But that’s just fine as we are adding (rapidly) to the basic understanding of foraging and other behavioral patterns in these amazing animals that are important parts of our southern California bight ecosystems. Six tagged Rissos in three days is a good string for these previously difficult to tag species. We are hoping the weather forecasts for our last few days out here are wrong and we get a chance to add a few more and maybe another fin whale or two.