Today, both James and I were inundated with numerous male-male fights. Since we’re studying aggression this was a rather exciting change of pace from the usual sleeping, scratching and occasional threats. One interesting aspect of male grey seal fights is that there are not always clear winners and losers. In the second fight of the day, the bout ended with both “Merlin” and “J22” rolling away and settling back where they were before the fight began! This ‘Draw’ outcome is intriguing partially because of the complexity (and complications) it adds to the aggressive system. With all the costs of fighting (time, energy spent, and physical injuries) why would a male fight at all if there wasn’t some payoff? This question, as well as plenty of others, is part of what we hope to look into through this project.
Sam also reports that it seems that the pent up aggression from the males is spilling over towards the females. We are quickly approaching the time all the males have been waiting for–mating–and some seem to be jumping the gun a bit. The girlies however are quick to back an ‘amorous’ male off with a bit of their own aggression.
Back at base everyone is settling into the 5:45am alarms (aided by generous cups of coffee). We’re also embracing the evening routine of snuggling up with a cup of tea, a blanket and a catalog of photos to play the grey seal version of “Where’s Wally?”. Hard to believe tomorrow marks two weeks! Time sure is flying!