14 days on Sable Island: Day 4

Well today it rained all day. I haven’t even set foot outside, which is really odd for being out here. When I come to Sable, I usually spend most of the time outside and when I am cabin bound because of the weather I usually feel a little irritable. So no photography today!

My day was spent preparing acoustic and satellite tags for deployment on grey seals in a few days time. These deployments are one of the reasons why we are out here.

The Ocean Tracking Network is a large multi-national project that is using acoustic technology to examine the movements and interactions of species of marine fish and mammal, and how they are influenced by their environment and how that might change with global warming. The project that I am involved with is examining interactions between grey seals and various fish species, e.g. cod, salmon, tuna, to better understand their diet and interactions with other species. For example, recently we discovered that two of our young male seals spent about one week in September last year chowing down with 7 to 8 Atlantic bluefin tuna. Perhaps they like the same food?

When grey seals leave Sable Is., rather than disperse widely they head for shallow offshore sand banks where they munch down on their favourite fish, a small fish called sandlance that lives close to the sandy floor. This project has shown that despite the vastness of the ocean they live in, seals from Sable seem to enjoy hanging out with each other while visiting their favourite supermarket. Perhaps it makes catching fish easier, or helps to have a buddy looking out for hungry sharks.

Grey seal from Sable Island
This big boy has a GPS tag close to its head and an acoustic tag on its back to pick up acoustic signals from other tagged fish and seals
Share on:
Lidgard Photography