Subject: JJ-Released Whale Sheds Transmitt (fwd)

Mike Williamson (
Sat, 4 Apr 1998 13:40:24 -0500 (EST)


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 3 Apr 1998 19:49:00 GMT
Reply-To: Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Discussion
Subject: Released Whale Sheds Transmitt

Released Whale Sheds Transmitters

 Associated Press Writer
   SAN DIEGO (AP) -- J.J. may survive her life in the ocean, but no
one will really know for sure.
   The gray whale, rescued as a sick infant and raised in
captivity, shed both her transmitter packs in less than three days
at sea, Sea World spokeswoman Jonna Rae Bartges said.
   "The only way she can be tracked now is going to be visually,"
Bartges said. "It's disappointing because they hoped to do some
long range tracking of the migration."
   Sea World researchers followed her by boat until Thursday night.
They recovered the first transmitter pack Wednesday off the coast
of Coronado, a peninsula community across the bay from San Diego.
The second pack was found late Thursday south of San Diego.
   The packs -- one radio transmitter and one satellite transmitter
-- fit like a saddle and were secured with toggle bolts in her
blubber. One set was on her back, the other near her blow hole.
They were designed to operate for 18 months, but float to the
surface if dislodged.
   Researchers believed the transmitters broke away when J.J.
brushed against the ocean floor foraging for food. While one of the
packets was undamaged, the second showed scratches and splintering.
   Although researchers had planned to stop following J.J. by boat,
Bartges said now that J.J. had lost the transmitter packs,
researchers could resume their observation.
   Biologist Pam Yochem of the Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute
said, despite the setback, researchers felt assured about J.J.'s
changes of survival.
   Before the second pack was lost, it indicated Thursday morning
that J.J. was near a migrating pod -- a female gray whale and two
calves -- off Point Loma, west of San Diego.
   J.J. was found rolling in the surf near Los Angeles in January
1997. Sick and near death, the baby whale was taken to Sea World in
San Diego where marine biologists nursed her back to health. When
released, she was a healthy 19,200 poundsand 31 feet long.
   Yochem said the most critical time for J.J. was the first two
days, and now she has passed that benchmark, researchers believe
she will survive even if they lose track of her.
   Since being released into the sea Tuesday, J.J. has stayed
within a 15-mile radius off Point Loma, swimming south to Imperial
Beach and north to Coronado, a peninsula community across the bay
from San Diego.
   "They are exploratory movements," Yochem said. "She's just
trying to figure out where she is."
   Researchers were encouraged by J.J.'s first few critical days --
bobbing her head out of the water to get her bearings and making
   "You realize she's not this big thing in a pool anymore," said
researcher Ann Bowles, who played J.J. sounds from gray whales so
she'd recognize them as friendly voices in the ocean. "She's a
youngster, just a small thing in a big ocean."