The list of familiar faces grows! Yesterday I was pleased to see another 6 males that had been around the year before including A12 (aka The Doctor), D52 (aka Ron Weasley) and D61 (aka C3PO)…yes I have a bit of a nerdy naming scheme. It has been interesting that the males re-sighted so far this year had varying success last year. A few like A12 were what we call ‘tenured’ males–that is they remained on the colony for at least two days or were in at least 10 aggressive interactions. However, some of the other males re-sighted yesterday and today were only in the 2011 database from a single sighting! It will be interesting to see who sticks around, who is a one-hit-wonder, and how the season pans out!
In regards to behaviours, today marked a few firsts for the season:
1) I saw the first birth in my study area today! Before I know it the dunes will be covered in fluffy, white-coated pups.
2) My study focuses mainly on aggressive events between males…but for the last two days I’ve been reminded of the fact that male grey seals spend 70-90% of their time sleeping. That means if I’m in the field from 7:30-4:30, I might get 1 hour of activity and 8 hours of a whole lot of snoozing seals. Today however I witnessed the first fight of the season! Though most of male grey seal aggression is sorted-out through threats like ‘open-mouth threats’ which are performed a distance apart, when things escalate, male grey seals can have very intense and violent fights! The one today was relatively short and resulted with the loser fleeing…while the winner settled back to sleep. I’ll share more about aggression and some of the questions I’m looking into as the season kicks into full swing.