Saturday, August 18, 2012

Some times things go your way. And some times they really, really don't. Yesterday we put out two new tags on a nice, docile group of pilot whales. The first tag was an ECG tag. It collects heart rate information on diving pilot whales. It's a novel tag with incredible potential to learn how these deep divers can manage their extraordinary fast and deep dives.  This ECG tag was designed by Russ Andrews of Alaska Sea Life Center.
Suction-cup ECG tag about to be placed on a male pilot whale
(Photo: T. A. Mooney, permit # 15530 to CRC)

The second tag we put on in the group was the new DTAG3.2. It was our first deployment of this tag. We were aiming for short and sweet 2 hr deployment to test our equipment and procedures. It is supposed to release its suction-cups after a pre-programmed amount of time.

A suction-cup DTAG3 on a large male pilot whale
(Photo: T. A. Mooney, permit # 15530 to CRC)

Unfortunately, both tags stuck a little too well. The DTAG didn't release on time, nor did the ECG tag. They stayed on the whales a few extra hours and this was long enough for the whales to swim north and offshore, away from us and into the current. The tags finally released far off-shore, and are still being carried away by the current. Amazingly, we can track the tags movement away from the islands. But the winds remain strong and the waves are large and we can't safely catch up with the tags right now. We'll follow the tags progress; the ECG tag has a satellite transponder and the DTAG through its radio beacon. We will keep you posted. And it's a big ocean. Please keep your eyes out.

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