Subject: Tags:Kayaks offer benign way to tag (fwd)

Michael Williamson (pita@whale.simmons.edu)
Tue, 18 Feb 1997 11:45:22 -0500 (EST)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 18 Feb 97 13:33:00 GMT 
From: r.mallon1@genie.com
To: marmam@uvvm.uvic.ca, pita@whale.simmons.edu
Subject: Kayaks offer benign way to tag

Kayaks offer benign way to tag whales

   MONTEREY, Calif., Feb. 17 (UPI) -- A small group of researchers are
using sea kayaks instead of motor boats as a gentler way to attach radio
transmitters to California gray whales during their annual migrations
along the Pacific Coast. Scientists at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories
in Monterey said today (Monday) that motor boats alter the behavior of
the giant creatures and affect research results.
   The idea of the project is for researchers to quietly approach the
whales in a fiberglass sea kayak, armed with a crossbow loaded with an
arrow that has a suction-cup tip lashed to a small radio unit.
   Jim Harvey, the project's lead scientist, says, "This is a more
benign way to put a radio tag on these animals so we can track their
normal movements and migrational patterns."
   The only danger, Harvey says, is that the whales may not realize the
kayak is above them and knock the researchers into the water.
   Researchers hope that by charting the gray whales' movements in and
around Monterey Bay they will gain a better grasp of the whale's biology
and behavior.
   California gray whales have rebounded from near-extinction twice.
Their numbers were cut by whaling to less than 2,000 in 1880, and again
in the 1930s. The present population is estimated at more than 22,000.