The second week of IMMB 2015 flew by faster than the first. The students were busy with more seal surveys, another whale watch, a fish lab, a scrimshaw art project, a seal necropsy, a post-necropsy swim call (water temp = 56 degrees!), and a stranding response to the rarely seen Delphinus inflatus. In addition, each student completed an oral presentation for our class symposium, Seal Week – a theme that we modeled after Shark Week – to educate people about the misconceptions about the recovering seal populations of New England.
The other night, we watched Song of the Sea for Movie Night. It’s an Oscar-nominated animated film that brings to life the Irish folktale of the selkie – mythical creatures that live as seals in the sea but can shed their skin to become a human on land. Besides being visually stunning, the story explores family dynamics and sibling relationships, grief, and even a little magic. It’s not to be missed!
The first week of Introduction to Marine Mammal Biology 2015 is off to a great start. We have seven students who are giving it their all – it’s a lot of material to cram into two weeks! Highlights include: hikes around Appledore Island, a skulls and skeletons lab where students solved bone puzzles, a whale watch, a Duck Island seal survey, bioacoustics lab, porpoise dissection, and of course – lots of gorgeous sunsets.
The students took their final exam, and then we completed another seal survey in the dreamy twilight. Then we headed to Star Island for ice cream, porch sitting, and a beautiful sunset. The supermoon (a.k.a. Full Buck Moon) was rising as we rode back to Appledore
Today we had two special guests, Andrea Bogomolni and Lauren Bamford, who led the students through Seal Day. We had lectures in the morning about human impacts, ocean health, and seal conservation, followed by an afternoon necropsy of a harp seal.
We took a trip to [foggy] Duck Island for a gray seal monitoring survey, and then Mary showed students how to complete abundance estimates and photo ID from photos of haul out sites. Everyone seemed to enjoy the photo ID process, especially choosing names for seals based on distinguishing marks (photos above). A large thunderstorm, with lots of lightning, in the afternoon gave way to a double rainbow during dinner. Around 9:00, the skies lit up with heat lightning as well as fireworks from many towns on the New Hampshire and Maine coasts.
I traveled from Boston to Portsmouth today, and then took the 4:00 boat to Shoals. 2 [dead, frozen] seals rode with us, and one will be dissected in my class. We had a faculty meeting and a course meeting, and then a lovely sunset. Getting ready for students to arrive tomorrow afternoon!