BE A CITIZEN SCIENTIST
Kirili Dudko, a 14 year old boy from the Ukraine, liked to watch a video stream of the Canadian ocean floor. One day he saw a creature he didn’t recognize eat a hagfish. He made a clip, posted it on his YouTube channel, and asked the University of Victoria, which sponsored the video stream, what the unknown creature might be. Scientists in Canada identified it as a female northern elephant seal. Kirili’s clip is the first know photographic evidence of an elephant seal eating a hagfish. Quite an accomplishment for a teenage citizen scientist! To see what Kirili saw, click HERE.
Visit Ocean Networks Canada, which includes live video from ocean locations and Digital Fishers, a crowd-sourced ocean science observation game.
Or try writing down your observations of the Piedras Blancas elephant seals for 10 minutes once a week at the ESeal Live Cam.. What kind of changes do you notice over time? The camera does not always focus on the same area, but you can see changes in the kinds of animals on the beach and on their behavior, depending on the time of year.
DON'T TRASH THE OCEAN
When Green Tie was a young seal, his curiosity led him to explore a green plastic packing strap, probably dropped from a container ship, along his migration route. As he grew, the strap became tighter, and eventually became life threatening. In 2011 Marine Mammal Center volunteers and professionals were able to isolate the 700 pound seal and remove the strap, naming him Green Tie after the green packing strap that could have ended his life. Green Tie has continued to visit Piedras Blancas, none the worse for his trauma. You can find the history of Green Tie and his experiences with the Marine Mammal Center at www.marinemammalcenter.org/.
Plastic trash in the ocean and on land is a big problem for all kinds of animals. Help keep our wildlife safe by properly disposing of all your trash. You can also help keep state parks clean and wild by becoming a Litter Getter. To learn more information about this and other programs, go to kids.parks.ca.gov.
BEYOND THE BLUFFS
Where do elephant seals go when they are not on the beach at the Piedras Blancas rookery? Scientists have been tracking their migrations for years, learning more and more as technology has advanced. Tracking devices are small enough that they do not interfere with the seal’s ability to swim or find food. These devices have changed our understanding of where and how elephant seals spend their time at sea. The Census of Marine Life, a project involving 80 nations, tracked a number of marine species for ten years, ending in 2010 using GPS and depth recorders. Since then results have been tracked by Tagging of Pelagic Predators and reported on a number of websites. Check out recent elephant seal migrations at wildlifetracking.org.
What about elephant seal pups? No studies have been published yet, but in 2008 researchers at UC Santa Cruz tagged five female weaners at the Ano Nuevo rookery before they headed out to sea. One seal headed southwest and the other four north. At least two of the weaners made it to the Gulf of Alaska, one of them all the way to the Aleutian Islands. She returned to Ano Nuevo in early 2009, her satellite tag still on her head.
FUN AND GAMES
COLOR THE ELEPHANT SEAL
PLAY BEACH BINGO
ELEPHANT SEAL CROSSWORD - PUZZLE and SOLUTION
Would you like to try more Fun and Games? Go to the Point Reyes National Seashore Kids Page.