Hey ho there! Courtney here. Been a busy first week on the island (or rather Isle). As you could see from our previous posts, the first couple of days were mostly intense preparation for deployments – and also learning how to get around and not fall down the rabbit hole. But seriously, there are lots of rabbits. Anyways, after we set Zoe up with her cozy hide in corner of what is known as Cross Park – it was time for Sean and I to figure out a way to comfortably house our heart rate monitors and tiny accelerometers.
So, lets talk about sewing – a totally underrated skill to add to your résumé or curriculum vitae. After a bit of brainstorming, a lot of cutting of ballistic nylon, some sweet music, and a bit of appeasing and sacrifice to the gods of sewing, 15 brand new patch sets were born (or as I like to call them, ‘customized attaching payload and retrieval, or CAPAR’ – working on a better acronym; scientists love acronyms). This task truly tested my skills as I generally prefer to sew quilts, rather than in three dimensions. These little patches will hopefully protect and help keep our tags stationary to get more accurate readings of minute movement to decipher individual behavioural differences. Deployments so far have proven, however, that the design is no less than perfect! But I may be biased.
Anyways, focal observations on our study individuals are well underway and the heart rate monitors appear to be working beautifully. While I am only focusing my research on a relatively small handful of individuals, its been great watching all the moms and bulls show up every day. Lots of new pups fumbling around (pup, pup, pup-corn!). Still learning the ropes of behaviour in grey seals, but its been great learning as the colony fills up. Running observations dawn ‘til dusk definitely have their up sides though – killer sunsets, hanging out with some short-eared owls, pancakes on Sundays, and a functioning circadian rhythm!
Now I just get to sweat it out for the next few days until we retrieve my accelerometers! I sure hope I turned them on correctly…