We’ve come to the end of our first phase (of three or possibly four) for SOCAL-14. This was a bit shorter than typical (10 days) for our research phases using the R/V Truth as a platform. We finished off our field work with an open public presentation and discussion forum on the project hosted today by the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro. They were gracious enough to offer us some significant logistical support and to provide a venue for us to talk with some of the local research, conservation, and education folks working on marine mammal issues in southern California. Below is a photo of a subset of our field team in front of the Aquarium today and below are a few more photos of our talks and demonstrations of field gear and tagging boats.
Overall for the first phase we had good but not great success. We worked in some marginal weather conditions and are seeing some different distributions of animals in a few places, perhaps having something to do with the unusual 70+ degree surface water temperatures we are seeing out here with more tropical fish species showing up. We didn’t tag our highest priority beaked or fin whales and tagged just one Rissos dolphin. But we tagged eight blue whales (like the one shown below with two different tags being applied – taken under NMFS permit #14534-2, credit K. Levek) with four complete CEE sequences (two MFA, two control), one of which had an incidental exposure on a tagged minke whale, which is a first. This is just the start of SOCAL-14 and please stay tuned for more details and updates as we continue our work out here studying behavior in these amazing animals starting back up in a few weeks.