Seven weeks, 50 days, and a whole lot of chocolate later we have finished field season 2012!
It has been a blast to come back, and Sam and James both enjoyed their first experience. We had bad weather days, good weather days. We’ve watched males, females, and pups. We recorded data, took photos, mapped locations and took videos. We’ve seen quite a different colony from last year (due to tides and rain) but in many ways it was similar. James and I were excited to see 70% of our tenured males from 2011 return, 50% of which stuck around long enough to be tenured again! Sam is also proud to report our catalogue of females is up to 150 individuals! Finally, while we only study a small sample, there were a total 1,520 pups born on the colony, a roughly 5% increase from last year!
Hopefully you’ve enjoyed these posts about our work and the questions we are researching. As we sat around this last week, we came up with a list to help you fill in the fine details of just what our lives have been like the last two months.
We call it “You know you’re a seal researcher when”:
1) You put markers in your sleeve so your body heat thaws the ink and they work.
2) You wear 4 layers…indoors.
3) You dream of seals and IDs.
4) You eat chocolate every day and are convinced it helps warm you up.
5) You sleep with your clothes for the next day in your sleeping bag so they are less damp/cold in the morning.
6) You scrape ice off your car, hide, and notebooks daily.
7) You set your alarm for 5:45 every morning—no weekends.
8) You get weird looks from the people in Co-Op, probably because you smell of seal.
9) You have perfected the art of dodging snarling pups.
10) You shield the expensive kit from 40mph rain with your body.
11) You watch beautiful sunrises over a beach full of seals.
12) You get to work outside in the fresh air.
13) You can call 150 seals by name.
14) You have watched the amazing moment when a pup takes its first breath.
15) You can’t wait to come back the next year and do it all over again!
Leaving at the end of the season is always a bit bittersweet. You can’t wait to get back to a life where you aren’t cold 24/7 and where you can sleep in once in a while, but you know you’ll miss it as well. As Sean said to me last year when we wrapped up: the next 10 months…the answering emails, the sitting in front of a computer, the semi-windowless office…we do all of that so that we can come back again next year.
Again, we hope you had as much fun following our story as we did living it! Check back at the website once in a while for updates about what we found, the work of our lab, our activities and other such seal-related news.
Till then!—Amy, James and Sam