Gray Seal

WhaleNet Reports

"Sputnik"
Gray Seal

Satellite Tagging Observation Reports


ID #: NY 2617-2001
Name: Sputnik
Species: Gray Seal (Halichoerus grypus)
Sex: Male
Stranding Date: March 31, 2001
Stranding Location: .25 mi west of the concession stand at Montauk Point
State Park, New York
Body of Water: Block Island Sound
Latitude: 41.04.30 N
Longitude: 71.51.30 W
Stranding Weight: 28.3 kg ~(62.3 lbs)
Standard Length: 128.2 cm ~(4'2")
Release Date: June 28, 2001
Release Location: Road K/Dune Rd. Hampton Bays, New York
Body of Water: Atlantic Ocean
Latitude: 40.49.48 N
Longitude: 72.30.50 W
Tag Number: 493
Tag Type: Yellow Plastic
Tag Placement: Left Hind Flipper 2nd Digit

7/3/01 - Latest data from the gray seal released by Riverhead last Thursday. He is continuing to head offshore pretty much in a straight line. He is moving quite quickly and is now about 220 miles offshore...yikes...

7/5/01 - Latest from the second gray seal. Well it looks like after ten days of heading straight offshore he may be starting to head to the north. The last six hours of data that we received early this morning seem to shore him shifting direction a bit to the north. This would be a good thing, as he is now roughly three hundred miles offshore...about 350 miles from his release point and about 250 miles from the nearest land (nantucket Island). Strangely enough, he is still only about 350 miles or so from Nova Scotia, if he keeps his present heading.....a pretty round about way to get there, but, probably better than where he is now. right now he is off the edge of the continental shelf, over water about 4500 meters deep or so. His rate of travel has slowed a bit, from over 60 miles per day to about 50 miles per day...still a pretty fast pace for a seal his size....He is still roughly 500 miles Sable Island, where he was likely born......whew....

7/10/01 - Over the past weekend, however "Sputnik" changed course and began heading north and slightly to the west. This brought him to the southeastern edge of Georges bank, sometime yesterday. Our most recent location information, appear to show that he has stopped his straight lin3e moving, and is now zig-zagging along the edge of the bank. This is probably a welcome sight for "Sputnik" as this would be the first time since a day or so after his release, that he is over water that is shallow enough for him to reach the bottom. Georges bank is also an area that should be a much better place to find food. His recent behavior seems to indicate that he is at least actively looking for food.

A pile of very interesting data follows (notice the change in LC in the more recent locations. This is likely an indication that he is spending less time surface swimming and more time diving than before....again a good sign).

7/11/01 - For the past day or so he has been staying in nearly the same location on the southeast edge of Georges Bank. This is a much shallower area than he has been near for the past several weeks. This is similar to the depth that "Gray" (the other gray seal we are tracking) has been sticking to, although he is much closer to the coast on the opposite side of the Gulf of Maine.

Hopefully the change in "Sputniks" behavior (from straight line to cris-crossing in a small area) is an indication that he is looking for (and hopefully finding ) food...

7/16/01 - Here is the latest from "Sputnik". Our latest location data appears to show that "Sputnik" is still moving around the southeastern corner of George's Bank. Since he arrived near this location (roughly a week ago), he has proven to be more difficult to keep track of, and we have not received as many good locations while he has been in this area. I think the most likely reason for this may be that he is spending less time at the surface (a good thing, as he may be looking for and finding food in this area) and moving more erratically. The lower signal rate may also be due to sea conditions, but from all indications, this is not as likely. The last few locations, appear to be another straight line run towards the edge of the bank. Hopefully we will see in the next few days if this means that "Sputnik" is once again on the move....

7/18/01 - The latest locations for "Sputnik" show him still on the southeast edge of Georges Bank. although he has moved a bit to the north, and made several moves to the edge of the bank, he is still there...

Interestingly, he appears to be favoring locations over a depth (90-100 meters deep)that is similar to the depths that our other gray seal ("Gray) is over, on the other side of the Gulf of Maine...

7/19/01 - Looks like "Sputnik" may be on the move again. After spending a week or so on the south eastern edge of Georges Bank, "Sputnik" appears to be moving slowly towards the north east. His latest locations are about 30 miles from where he was yesterday. Heading in this direction he is continuing to stay on the edge of the bank, and can continue to be over water that is shallow enough for him to reach bottom. His latest move is not as straight as the run he made when first released, so he is not heading in one direction as quickly. Hopefully the next few days will tell us if he continues to make his way north. Remember, he was originally tagged in Canada this past winter (most likely on Sable Island) and it will be interesting to see if he will find his way back to that range. He still has quite a way to go....

7/23/01 - Well...this is interesting. Over the past few days, it appears that "Sputnik" has continued to head towards Nova Scotia. Over the weekend he moved off of the northeastern edge of Georges bank (across an area known as the northeast peak) and very quickly crossed a section of deep water (the Northeast Channel). He has since, crossed Browns Bank (a popular spot for right whales) and has continued on to his most recent location, only about 25 miles from the south coast of Nova Scotia. puts him about 400 miles from his release point (if you measure point to point in a straight line). What makes this more remarkable, is that at one time "Sputnik" was over 300 miles offshore, and now has found his way almost to the coast. Hopefully we will see what he will do from here...haul out...turn left and head into the upper Gulf of Maine (and head to where our other tagged gray seal "Gray" is hanging out) or turn right and head off of the east coast of Nova Scotia, towards Sable Island (still over 250 miles away), to where he was likely born.

7/28/01 - Latest data from "Sputnik". Looks like "Sputnik" has made it to Nova Scotia. After a detour that took him over 350 miles offshore, "Sputnik" has made it to some dry land (sort of). His latest locations come from a small set of islands about 12 miles off of the south west coast of Nova Scotia (named Mud and oddly enough Seal islands). The most recent locations also sent us some data that indicates that "Sputnik" was on shore when the signals were sent. Now the question is where he will go from here....

8/3/01 - Latest from "Sputnik". Looks like he has settled down around the same area since about the 24th. He has stayed within about ten miles of the area he has been hauling out.

8/16/01 - Whew....We have a bit of catching up to do. I am finally back on line. Here is the catch-up and the latest on "Sputnik". When we last left our gray seal he had reached the south coast of Nova Scotia (after a pretty scary swing out into the open ocean, on his way up from his release off of Long Island), and was staying close to a small set of islands just off the coast. For much of the past two weeks, this is exactly where he has stayed. He has stayed close to the same general location, and has apparently been hauling our near an island named (not surprisingly...Seal Island). This is fairly shallow water and is (I think) a known fishing area, so the chances are, that he is at least looking for food around there. All of this, however changed about two days ago when "Sputnik" began a straight line movement off to the east and slightly south. His most recent position puts him about fifty mils offshore, still in relatively shallow coastal water, but headed (once again) towards the open ocean. The next few days should be interesting to see if he continues in this direction, or starts heading towards Sable Island, the place that he was most likely born...

8/20/01 - Houston....we have a problem....

A short set of messages for today as we seem to have lost the signal from "Sputnik". His transmissions stopped abruptly early on the 17th, and we have had not signals since. Generally, a short break can be the result of bad weather, a seal hauling out, or possibly an obstructed antenna. From his latest locations we know that "Sputnik" was not near shore when we lost the signal. We also know that there were many more satellite passes over his location that day, that did not pick up a signal (the gap dopes not start when the tag was scheduled to shut down). It is unlikely that bad weather would be blocking the signal for this long...so...we will be waiting a few more days to see if something starts up again. Unfortunately, at this point, the longer we do not hear from the tag, the less likely it is that we will hear from it....

Sputniks last signals came from the area of Brown's bank off of the south east coast of Nova Scotia. This is a highly productive area of the ocean, and the water would have been shallow enough that he could have reached the bottom. He appears to have been heading back towards the coast when his signals stopped. So far I can not find anything unusual in the last few messages...

Keep your fingers crossed...


Map of "Gray2's" travels.

More seal data is available in the current WhaleNet Listserv. Sort and go to FIND for "Seal Data", "Gray" entries.

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