Nicole Teutschel at Año Nuevo State Reserve, CA--The northern elephant seal, Mirounga angustirostris, breeding season has begun! Today the TOPP E Seal Team recovered our first satellite tag of the season. The tags were recovered from Sebastian, one big adult male! Sebastian is featured online via live tracks as well as at the Elephant Seal Homecoming Days Page (coming soon!). Homecoming Days is a multi-media outreach event celebrating the elephant seal migration, marine research, tagging, and marine conservation.
Sebastian perched on his bluff at North Point, a harem at Año Nuevo State Reserve in California. Photo: Nicole Teutschel
Sebastian is named after Don Sebastian Viscaino the Spanish conquistador, not Ariel’s little crustacean buddy. Sebastian Viscaino was an explorer who sailed the uncharted waters off the rugged California Coast over four hundred years ago. Father Antonio de la Ascension, chaplain on Sebastian Viscaino’s ship named Año Nuevo Point, La Punta de Año Nuevo (The Point of the New Year) as he sailed by on January 3, 1603. Deeming Año Nuevo one of the oldest place-names in the west.
Here are some of the people on the E Seal Team hiking out to North Point, gear in hand. Photo: Nicole Teutschel
Three days ago Sebastian, the seal, returned from his long journey: foraging up in the cool waters off Alaska and British Columbia, Canada. Sebastian landed at one of the north most harems at Año Nuevo called North Point. Today we found him fast asleep up on a ledge at North point complete with is satellite “spot” tag, time-depth-recorder tag, and radio tag.
Doctoral Student, and one of the E Seal Team's leaders, Cory Champagne administering anesthesia. Photo: Nicole Teutschel.
He is too big to weigh, but the TOPP E Seal Crew estimates that he likely weighs in at over 3500 pounds! Being a big seal is very important for males, only 1 in every 10 males will get to breed in his lifetime. Elephant seals are harem breeders, where one alpha male controls a group of breeding females. The alpha must fight other males for the right to keep his harem, protect his females, and breed.
Sonoma State Graduate Student, Segal proud to have tags in hand! Photo: Nicole Teutschel
A closer look at the tags. From the left, SPOT satellite tag, time-depth-recorder tag, and the VHF radio tag.
Sebastian is one of 15 featured seals featured by TOPP’s Elephant Seal Homecoming Days. Sebastian and the others will be followed in blogs, video, photos of the day, live tracks, trading cards, you name it! The site will be launched in the next two weeks. Stay tuned to learn more about Elephant Seal Homecoming Days and how you can follow the seals returning from one of the longest migrations on Planet Earth.