Well we have come to the end of our field effort for the SOCAL-BRS summer 2015 effort. We have had some good accomplishments, including tagging 9 animals of three of our four focal species (fin and blue whales plus Risso’s dolphin – we did not manage to tag a beaked whale this time). We were also able to conduct five full experimental sequences among these tagged animals (including the blue whale pictured below; J. Calambokidis taken under NMFS permit #14534), including one coordinated with a real Navy ship in the course of it’s normal training operation.
However, this has been among the more challenging periods of effort on this project for a number of reasons. Among them was the predominately offshore and thin distribution of whales off southern California. The very warm waters have brought in a lot of more typically southern species, including lots of tuna, mahi mahi, and hammerhead sharks, but they have also pushed the whales more offshore and to areas further to the north through effects on their prey distribution. Our being offshore so much during this period limited the blog updates and also meant we worked less in some of our more familiar and typical areas such as around Long Beach and Palos Verdes. Lastly, we unfortunately had two of our recording tags fail and were not (yet!) recovered. Last year we lost one and someone kayaking in LaJolla found it. So if you are out down there and see something shiny and gold/black with an antenna popping out of it, make sure to grab it and give us a call!
Many people are required to complete the kind of complex, dispersed, and physically challenging efforts that these projects are. I want to personally thank all of our field team for their dedicated effort. I would also like to thank the crew of the Truth from Truth Aquatics, notably Davey Woodland. We also very much appreciate the continued help, support, and encouragement from Diane Alps and our friends at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium. We will be back on the water in a smaller shore-based contingent in about a month and I will pick the blog back up then. We expect to have at least one new paper coming out between now and then so stay tuned. You can find more resources and information on the project through the webpage <www.socal-brs.org> and look for the drop down menus for each year. Or email me personally at Brandon.Southall@sea-inc.net with questions, comments, or to get any reprints of our papers not already available on the site.