Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Farallones 2010 white shark expedition

The 2010 TOPP white shark tagging expedition to the Farallon Islands was lead by Dr. Salvador Jorgensen and began on October 7 aboard the S.R.V. Derek M. Bayliss.

We kicked off the 2010 season with 3 consecutive days of beautiful weather. With the uncharacteristic calm weather and sunshine after morning low fog, the Farallones appear a much more hospitable place.

The water is teaming with life. We see ctenophores (jellies), krill, blue, humpback and grey whales, thousands of seals and sealions, and of course, white sharks.

This is a group of blue whales we encountered early morning.

A white shark pops up to the surface.

We have seen numerous predation events this year, sometimes three in a single day. The sharks hang out and are just waiting around the perimeter of the island for their chance to catch a seal off-guard as it transits between the open ocean and the dry haul-out on the craggy island.

A large female, finishes off a ~300 lbs elephant seal - this is one of four bites!

We download the acoustic receivers, which are stationed around the island. The data indicate that the sharks had left the Farallones months earlier than normal in 2009. Perhaps they are particularly keen to build back up their energy stores after last years short and lean season.

We were joined this year by Captain Mark Kocina, from Sealife Conservation, who we are very happy to welcome to the project. Mark made a great first impression by serving up gormet lunches BBQ'd on the stern of the boat!

Captain Mark Cocina and crew Kathy Carnie (Note BBQ in the background)

We have been grounded for almost a week with high winds, but finally made it back out to the Island for another couple of days to finish out the season.

A shark approaches the skiff and tagging pole is ready

The season was a success, and we are already looking forward to next year.

Friday, November 12, 2010

GTOPP in Antarctica

Dr. Dan Costa from UC Santa Cruz has his team down on the ice right now tagging and tracking seals.  We're working with him to get some photos and blogs (his Facebook album from the trip is AMAZING!!!), but in the mean time here are a couple of teasers...
A pair of emperor penguins near the edge of the ice (c)Dan Costa

A mother and pup Weddell seal (c)Dan Costa
UC Santa Cruz Professor Dan Costa (left), with his
tagging team in Antarctica (c)Dan Costa