The Behavioral REsearch And eCosystem Health lab

at the University of Alaska Southeast &

the College of Fisheries & Ocean Sciences, University of Alaska Fairbanks



The overall aim of this lab is to understand the behavior and ecology of marine mammals, and their role in maintaining healthy ecosystems. A wide network of collaborators, undergraduates, and graduate students are involved in projects related to this theme. Click on the links to the right to learn more about current research and students. 

If you are a prospective student, please read through the project descriptions on this website. Also review the admission requirements to the UAF College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences: I do not currently have funding to support additional students. However, highly talented students may be able to obtain their own funding so please contact me if you are interested.




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Friday, July 11, 2014

Testing the tag ....and waiting out the weather


Photo Album

Uploaded: Fri Jul 11 02:32:41 2014
by Heidi Pearson

It's Friday already, and the week has flown by. After our diligent efforts to be all ready to start tagging on Monday, the weather did not cooperate. It was a beautiful sunny day, but the swell was too much for us to go out to test the tag. Instead, we took advantage of the day off and took a little journey north. We visited the fur seal pups at Ohau Falls again. Then, we went a bit further north to Marlborough and visited a couple of vineyards that put New Zealand wines on the map. Yealands Estate was impressive for their eco-friendly practices, complete with babydoll sheep as lawnmowers and fertilizers.

Tuesday brought better weather. The duskies were pretty far south, but with the tagging work we had a support vessel with us, so we felt confident being out of our usual study area. Kristin, Adrian, Heidi B., and I were on Rangi to do the tagging. Capt. Gary from Dolphin Encounter was on the support vessel, the Kotuku. If needed, the Kotuku would serve as a platform for keeping track of the tag from a high vantage point. The Kotuku was also there in the event that we had any mechanical or safety problems with our small vessel.

After several unsuccessful attempts at deploying the tag, we finally got it to stick to a dusky! It was around 1:00, and reaching the cut-off point for deploying a tag for the day. With the short winter days, we are always aware of how many hours of daylight we have left for working on the water. It was very exciting to see the tag release from the pole, stick to the dolphin, and then see the dolphin surface again with our bright orange tag on its side. The dolphin wasn't quite as pleased about this situation, apparently, as he/she did a couple of leaps and the tag fell off.

Even though the tag was only on the dolphin for about a minute, it was a successful day. It showed that our videocamera configuration would work. Because this was the first time using the videocamera, we deployed a "dummy" videocamera first, to test how it would float and react under pressure while diving. The next time we go out, we will put the real videocamera on and hopefully get some footage.

Wednesday brought light rain and swells. The conditions were not good for taking our research vessel out, but we decided to go out on the support vessel. We wanted to see if that would be a feasible platform for tagging. We had a nice boat ride way to the south and did a thorough search but found no dolphins.  A small plane was even sent up overhead to look for the dolphins and none were found.

The weather continued to deteriorate after Wednesday. We had gale force winds yesterday and today, and likely tomorrow as well. We've been keeping busy, though, working on our data, catching up on emails, seeing some of the sights of Kaikoura, and watching BBC nature videos.

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