The list of familiar faces keeps adding up! It is great when of the 14 males I was watching today, 11 were ones I’d seen before! Today I saw for the first time in 2012: Lupin, Caveman, and though we’re not supposed to have one…my favorite: Trouble Kelp!
Each of these are interesting for different reasons. In 2011, Lupin only stuck around for a few weeks early on but he was back in his exact same spot today! Caveman and Trouble were both ‘less-dominant’ males last year, meaning that they both lost quite a few fights. However in both cases, they managed to stay in the general study area the whole season and successfully copulated once or twice. In the case of Trouble–he actually improved his rank in the hierarchy throughout the season and by the end of 2011 had some battle scars to prove it! Part of my research is looking into how dominance hierarchies form and if males consistently have the same ranks or if they change year to year. Are the hierarchies facilitated by knowing each other previously? Is size the only thing that matters? What are the characteristics of a ‘dominant’ or ‘winning’ male and can males assess each other to prevent getting into fights that are costly? Having males return is step one to figuring out some of these questions!
Seems like even if the seals are settling down, the weather can’t make up its mind. So far the only constant about the weather has been my phone’s inability to predict it accurately. Today it called for 10% chance of rain…when in fact it was missing another zero.
So while some of the past week has been… less than sunny…it sure beats being in an office without windows!! And even with the rain, I love the soft patter of the rain while the seals sleep, a break in the rain long enough for a rainbow to land in your study area, or a dazzling light show on the clouds as you are wrapping up for the end of the day. I know that the red-sky at night is a ‘sailor’s delight’ so here’s hoping the next few days are splendid and sunny. I have a feeling they will be since the rest of the crew arrives on Saturday!!