SOCAL-11 Working Offshore

We’ve had fairly good to excellent seas offshore the past few days and have put in some time trying to work some of our more difficult/less common species like beaked whales and sperm whales.  In some of these offshore areas we might expect to find Risso’s dolphins or fin whales as well.  Yesterday we had a number of likely detections of beaked whales with a few brief surface series, but these were single indi

viduals and despite some concerted efforts we didn’t manage to tag one.

We have continued to maintain our mode of flexibility, though and later in the day yesterday as conditions deteriorated offshore we worked back in to nice waters and tagged two blue whales and successfully completed a CEE.  We are a little more than halfway through our first leg here — 14 tags on blue whales with 8 CEEs and the 1 Risso’s tag and CEE.  We’ll be trying to work offshore again today — with a little more fog on us than was the case in the below evening shot of beautiful Dana Point.

Tag and CEE on a Risso’s Dolphin

Yesterday we attched one of the new generation DTags on a Risso’s dolphin for almost nine hours and conducted a perfect CEE. This was the longest successful attachment to date with the new version tags on offshore odontocetes and the first on a Risso’s. Below is a shot of the tag riding on the back of the animal who was in a group of about 20 that we followed most of the day.

Rissos dolphins are among our focal species for SOCAL-11 experiments. We conducted one CEE on this species last year in SOCAL-10 and have been hoping for more this year. This species has also proven somewhat difficult to tag in the past and our tags on last year were for just a few hours, so to get a nine hour deployment spanning several different behavioral modes was pretty exciting. The tag came off late into the evening, but quite close to our anchorage and we made a beautiful late night ride in very calm seas and a red-yellow moon out to safely retrieve it.


SOCAL-BRS is a study of basic behavior and responses to controlled sound exposures in a variety of marine mammal species.

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