We’ve were offshore the first few days of SOCAL-14 and pushed back closer to the mainland today with tougher offshore weather. Working around tiny Santa Barbara Island shrouded in fog early on we managed just one short tag deployment on a Risso’s dolphin out of over 100 we encountered. We searched for beaked whales as well in the offshore areas but conditions were marginal most of the time and rougher weather moved in yesterday.
Given the deteriorating offshore conditions, we fell back closer to the mainland in search of our priority baleen whale species, which are fin and blue whales. We found each, as well as minke and humpback whales, in Redondo and Santa Monica bays with lots of visible krill and many other predators from birds to fish as well. Yesterday we were able to get both a blue whale (shown in the photo above; taken under NMFS permit #14534-2 credit J. Calambokidis) and a minke whale tagged. We focused efforts on the blue whale for the simulated sonar controlled exposure experiment (CEE), but the minke whale was incidentally exposed and we measured the sounds on the tag attached to that animal, which was a first for this species in the Pacific. Today we tagged another blue whale and conducted a control (no sound) exposure experiment.
As a reminder, please see <https://sea-inc.net/socal-brs/socal-14/> for a simple summary of our experimental methods and objectives for SOCAL-14. Thanks for following our progress out here – we will update the blog as regularly as possible with internet access.