Saturday, August 25, 2012

Got 'em!

Boy was it an eventful day.  Sharks. Marlin. Pilot whales. Spinner dolphins. Spotted dolphins. Rough toothed dolphins. And.... Peps.

(DTAG going on a melon-headed whale. WooHoo!  Photo: TAM, permit # 15530 to CRC)
We found melon-headed whales today. Also called, Peponocephala electra, or Peps, for short. And it was a great day with these animals which are a focal species for this project.  It was surprisingly calm winds and we were able to travel to the northwest side of the Big Island and the bank where these animals are often found. We steamed around for quite a few hrs, spotting all sorts of marine mammal species, as well as many schools of skipjack tuna and diving birds.  Finally, around 1 in the afternoon, we saw some gentile splashing on the surface. It was a group of about 250 melon-headed whales!  Pretty exiting. We spent the rest of the afternoon with the group. In the process we put out 2 Dtags (one for several hrs, one for several minutes), two satellite tags (which transmit the animal's location via satellite), lots of photo identifications, the towfish and a new device we call the Drifter. Sounds and behaviors were recorded on all devices. So a wealth of data to sort through (did you know that 90% of this work actually occurs on shore).  A great day. We'll update you on the details in the next few days.
Aran with the Drifter after its first successful deployment.
Max recovering the towfish.

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