Gray Seal

WhaleNet Reports

Gray Seal

Satellite Tagging Observation Reports

Gray Before Gray After

3/8/02 - "Louise" was only about 3 weeks old when she was found stranded at Phillip's Cove in York, Maine, on 3/8/02.

She was very thin, lethargic, dehydrated, and she had an eye infection. It appeared as though she did not successfully wean and learn how to hunt adequately. She weighed only 28 pounds when she was found.

She was rescued by the Marine Animal Lifeline and brought to the rehabilitation facility. "Louise" was also suffering from an internal parasite infection that had caused a dangerous anemia problem. She was loosing red blood cells quicker than they could be produced. "Louise" was stabilized with aggressive hydration therapy and treated with injectable antibiotics. She was initially provided with nutrition through a stomach tube until she stabilized and could be taught how to hunt and eat fish. After months of care, her infections resolved and she gained weight rapidly. Her anemia problem had also resolved and she weighed 60 pounds when she was released back into the ocean.

5/8/02 - Louise was released May 8, 2002 on Crescent Beach in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Lat: 43 33.785', Long: 70 13.190'

5/9/02 - "Louise", the female gray seal released yesterday by the Marine Animal Lifeline. So far, the good news is that the tag turned itself on after release, and cycled through its first day and shut down at the time is was supposed to. I did a quick check just now and it seems to be cycling as it should. So far we have only gotten three locations (partly because of the short transmitting day yesterday). Two of these locations do not look "real". They have a low accuracy estimate (actually no accuracy or LC) and are far north of the release point. The seal was released south of Portland (Maine) and the first signal shortly after release was north of Boothbay (too far for the seal to swim in such a short time). One of these points (the last one) looks reasonable, and that one is about 8-10 miles offshore due east of Old Orchard Beach (just east of her release point).

We often have few good locations at the start of a track, possibly because the seal is moving fast and not spending a great deal of time at the surface. The good news is that although we are not getting locations, we are getting single signals at almost every satellite pass. This is usually good news about how the tag is working.

5/10/02 - A little frustrating, but we are still getting messages. Below are the two good messages we received. This is not a lot, but I will take what I get at this point. We continue to get signals at almost every satellite pass over the tag, however we are not getting enough on each pass to locate the tag. The locations we are getting are not very accurate. I think this is still a problem that "Louise" may be moving quickly and erratically, and not getting the tag out of the water enough to get off the signals we would need. This may improve over time (one of these locations picked up six signals from the tag, so that is a good sign).

The locations seem to be clustering around the location that looked the most likely from yesterdays set of points. That is around ten miles or so east of Cape Elizabeth, (just south of Portland...Maine). The points are not very accurate, so it is not clear if there is a pattern. One possibility (I think the most likely) is that "Louise" is moving quickly, but not in a given direction around the area we are getting the location hits. This weekend should give us some more to work with.

Another factor may be the weather or sea condition. At my end of the state things are pretty calm, but I have not had a chance to check the ocean conditions near where she is. Fortunately, there is good data on sea conditions for that part of the Gulf of Maine.

We will see what Monday brings.

5/13/02 - Attached is data from this weekend. Things are looking up from the tracking end. We continue to get signals each day, and at least a couple of good locations per day. The number of good locations has gone up over the weekend and includes some LC 2 and 3 locations (the best accuracy confidence).

It appears that "Louise is continuing to stay around the same general area. This is about ten miles or so east of Portland (Maine). The most recent locations appear to be clustering around a small set of rocks in that area (Halfway Rocks), and she may be spending some time hauling out on some of these. Hopefully we will see a bit more tomorrow.

5/15/02 - Here are the latest locations. Things continue to improve from the tracking standpoint. we are now getting upwards of ten locations per day (although not all of them are good quality). It appears that during the storm "Louise" headed a bit south, still staying about seven to ten miles offshore. Her most recent position was roughly ten miles east of Biddeford, Maine near her release point. Her locations appear to cluster around areas where there is a small rise in the bottom. This may be a sign that she is using these locations to find food. Hopefully we will see if this pattern holds up. Here is the present sea and weather state near her location:

Wind Direction (WDIR): WNW ( 290 deg )
Wind Speed (WSPD): 23.3 kts
Wind Gust (GST): 29.1 kts
Wave Height (WVHT): 4.3 ft
Dominant Wave Period (DPD): 11 sec
Atmospheric Pressure (PRES): 29.58 in
Pressure Tendency (PTDY): +0.05 in ( Rising )
Air Temperature (ATMP): 47.5 ░F
Water Temperature (WTMP): 45.5 ░F

Data Buoy Locator
Click on the buoy closest to Louise's location.

5/16/02 - Location data from last night. Shows "Louise" staying near the same general area in Casco Bay. Over the past few days she appears to be moving a bit closer to shore, although it is a bit difficult to be sure. The data from the tag do not seem to show that she has hauled out lately, although she has been close to shore or offshore rocks a couple of times.

Stay tuned...

5/20/02 - The latest locations from over this weekend. It looks like a pattern is starting to emerge from all of this. Over the weekend "Louise" appears to have moved north following the coast (about 5 miles offshore) back to the area she was in just after her release. This area is centered on a small shoal of rocks (Halfway Rocks) in Casco Bay. The good news is that we have been getting some very reliable locations each day. The bad news is that we have nothing new from this morning (although the tag did turn on), but her last position made it appear that she may be heading south along the coast again.

Hopefully we will see...

5/21/02 - Here is the latest from "Louise". For some reason we seem to have gone a whole day with no location hits. We seem to be doing better today with a number of locations back in the center of Casco Bay. Although these are a bit farther away from her last haul out location, they are still in the same general area.

5/22/02 - Locations for yesterday. Another day with only a few locations. It appears that this may be due to Louise's erratic pattern. So far, it does not appear that she has spent much time headed in a single direction. As a result her track appears to be criss crossing an area about 5-7 miles in diameter in the middle of Casco Bay. This is quite interesting if you compare this to the other gray seals we have tracked ("Gray" "Sputnik", "Casino" and "McHenry").

5/28/02 - Catching up on data from the long weekend. A lot to send as we are back to getting roughly ten locations per day. It looks like a pattern is starting with many of these locations crossing through and around a center located at a small outcropping of rocks in Casco Bay (Halfway Rocks). I do not think this is a known location for gray seals, but it appears that it would be a good location at least for harbor seals. I have not had time to look over the temperature data to see if I can tell if she has hauled out lately, but it appears that she may be hauling out for short periods around these rocks.

6/3/02 - New locations listed below. This should catch us up for the past few days and the weekend. It looks like "Louise" is showing no great intention to leave Casco Bay. Over the weekend she did move a bit farther north and is now roughly five miles off of the tip of the Harpswell (Maine) area. It appears that she is still criss crossing her tracks quite a bit, and keeping close to fairly shallow water (but not in to the coast since her release). The water depths appear to be around one hundred feet or less in the areas we are getting locations. There has been no sign in the past few days that she has hauled out, but she is staying fairly close to the area she last hauled out (Halfway Rocks).

6/7/01 - Catching up a bit on a few missed days. However the pattern remains nearly the same. "Louise" continues to stay within about ten to twelve miles of "Halfway Rocks". This is about 10 miles east of Cape Elizabeth (Maine). So far she appears to be moving around to the east of the rocks, returning from time to time. The assumption is that she is hauling out to rest on the rocks. The temperature data from the tag seem to show occasional spikes in temperature, probably when she is out of the water. The last time we saw something like that was this past Wednesday (the 5th).

6/20/02 - A bit of catching up to do. Here are locations from the past week. It looks like the pattern continues. Louise continues to move around in a fairly small area of Casco Bay. it appears that on the 11th she may have returned briefly to Halfway Rocks, an area that she appears to have been using as a resting place. What is most interesting about this so far, is that Louise does not appear to be heading out of the Gulf of Maine, or very far from the coast. This is similar to only one other gray seal we have tracked ("Gray").

6/24/02 - Here is the latest from "Louise". It looks like much the same pattern as the past few weeks (we have been tracking "Louise for almost two months now). Most of her activity appears to be within a roughly thirty mile zone in the middle of Casco Bay. She still appears to be making short trips back to a small outcrop of rocks (halfway rocks) from time to time.

7/5/02 - With luck we should pass the two month mark on this track tomorrow. Here is the data to catch up for the past week. What is turning out to be so interesting in this data is that there is not much interesting going on. It appears that "Louise" is continuing her pattern, that she has been showing since almost immediately after she was released. That is, she appears to be centering her activity around a relatively small area (around 30 square miles or so). She appears to be returning to a haulout area on a small group of rocks (Halfway rocks). Our data seems to indicate that she is returning about every four or five days right not (once on the 27th of June and once on the fourth of july). Most of the locations that have the high "LC" code are from those haul out times, so if you only plot those, you would not think that she is moving much at all. In fact she seems to be heading east of these haul ours (mainly) and centering her activity about five to six miles away. She very rarely (if at all) heads to the west of Halfway Rocks.

Well, keep your fingers crossed, hopefully we will continue with more data, and when I have a chance I will take a look at the temperature data from the tag, which should give me a better idea of her activity (I hope).

7/12/02 - The latest data to catch up from this past week. We continue to get a good daily set of locations from "Louise". And it appears that her pattern is remaining much the same as before. In the past week she has moved somewhat closer to the coast. To within five miles or so of the coast. This is the first time since her release that she has been this close to the shore. It also appears that one day this week she once again hauled out on her usual haul out location Halfway Rocks. This week we also passed two months of tracking. We can expect the tag to work for roughly twice as long, so keep your fingers crossed that things continue to go well and we can keep the track up.

7/25/02 - Data from the past two days. Still showing about the same pattern with yet another trip back to haul out at Halfway rock.

8/21/02 - Below is data from "Louise" for the past two weeks. At this point we have passed the three month mark in the track and with luck, we may have several more months to go (if the tag performs as predicted among other things). There are a little over two hundred locations in this set as we are continuing to get good location data from the tag. This means we have been getting some kind of "hit" with nearly every satellite pass while the tag is on (the tag turns itself off for eight hours per day to conserve on power when satellite coverage is thin).

In the past weeks "Louise" has continued with the pattern we have seen develop over the past months. She appears to be centering her activity in Casco Bay, periodically hauling out on a small outcrop of rocks (Halfway rocks) that are roughly ten miles or so from the coast.

9/4/02 - Appears to be in the same general location as the last set of data. This weekend will mark four months for this track...very good (all things considered). It will be interesting to see if we can see changes in behavior as the seasons change ( as of this past weekend most of the tourists seem to have left the area anyway.....)

9/23/02 - We are continuing to get good locations daily from the tag. Hopefully this will keep up as seasons change and we can see what changes there may be in "Louis's" behavior. So far things have remained remarkably steady. She has continued to move around a small area of Casco Bay and go back to a small island (Halfway Rocks) every few days to haul out. If anything her behavior has become more regular. In particular it looks like she has started spending much of her "offshore" time (when she is not hauled out) around a small area roughly five or six miles east of her haul out. I have attached a couple of maps to show you were things are right now. As you can see, she is covering Casco Bay so well that it is hard to see through all of the data points. The second map is a density analysis of the locations, and from that you can see how clearly her activity seems split between the area she is hauling out and where she is presumably looking for (hopefully finding) food. By the way the area she is foraging in is about 35 to 40 meters deep (not very deep for a gray seal), and so far does not appear to have distinguishing characteristics....

10/3/02 - If you were wondering if she is in a consistant pattern (returning to the same locations etc)...look at this set of high quality location s from the past week. You will see that she is returning to almost the same location sometimes after several days...

Also...with luck, on the 8th of this month we will pass the five month mark for this track. Keep your fingers crossed....

10/7/02 - Tomorrow will mark month five for this track (keep your fingers crossed). So far we have over 1800 location points in the track (the location data alone would be a over 250 pages as a printed file). What continues to be so surprising is the consistency of this track. "Louise" continues to spend most of her time in a small part of Casco Bay with a center on a small set of rocks (Halfway Rocks). It appears her most recent haul out was this weekend.

11/4/02 - This continues to be a very neat track (in all senses of the word). Louise continues to move around a small area of Casco Bay. Since about a week after her release her routine has remained pretty much the same with her moving around a five to ten mile area around a central haul out point. If you plot this track, you start to cover the area with the criss cross of the track, and overlapping points. This may be giving us some new insight into what gray seals do in this part of the gulf of Maine. In the next week we will be passing five months of tracking (this will be our longest gray seal track).

11/11/01 - The latest from "Louise". She continues to amaze with the consistency of her behavior. Still continuing to move within a roughly 10 mile by 6 mile patch of Casco Bay. With regular trips back to her haulout every few days for several hours out of the water. Notice how we get very good resolution locations during the time she is out of the water....

11/17/02 - The latest from "Louise". She continues to amaze with the consistency of her behavior. Still continuing to move within a roughly 10 mile by 6 mile patch of Casco Bay. With regular trips back to her haulout every few days for several hours out of the water. Notice how we get very good resolution locations during the time she is out of the water....(notice also that I have decided to copy my reports, because "Louise is getting so regular that the news is pretty much the same from week to week).

Actually, it appears that while "Louise" is still returning to Halfway rocks to haul out, sh may be moving a but farther to the east on hunting trips. There is only about a five mile difference in some of these points, but by her past behavior, this is positively daring.

11/24/02 - New week same place (just about). She does appear to be spending a little more time a few miles to the east, but still staying within her 30 by 10 square mile area.

12/1/02 - New week, same locations and same behavior. Very interesting as winter approaches.

12/08/02 - New week same place (just about). She does appear to be spending a little more time a few miles to the east, but still staying within her 30 by 10 square mile area.

12/15/02 - New week same place (just about). She does appear to be spending a little more time a few miles to the east, but still staying within her 30 by 10 square mile area.

12/24/02 - Locations for "Louise".╩╩Still doing the same thing in the middle of Casco Bay.

1/9/03 - Below are the latest locaitons from "Louise". No map attached, because you can use the ones from the past weeks (months). It appears that "Louise" is continuing to stay in the same general location in Casco Bay. She continues to move offshore from a haulout on "Halfway Rocks" to spend a day or so from 5 to 10 miles away, then return for a short haul out.

2/14/03 - As "Rowdy" Roddy Piper once said, "Just when they think they have all the answers ... I change the questions".╩╩Well who would have guessed that after five months or so of living in Casco Bay, "Louise" would decide to move somewhere else.╩╩Attached is the data to prove it and a map for good measure.╩╩What it shows is that around the last week in January "Louise" headed south away from the area she had been in for the past months.╩╩She headed to within a few miles of the north shore of Massachusetts and headed off to haul out briefly on the Isles of Shoals (On the Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire border).╩╩Her latest position puts her heading north again apparently following along the shallow ridge known as Jeffrey's Ledge.╩╩This is a well known fishing area off of the coast of the Southern Gulf of Maine.

2/25/03 - It appears that after heading south (for the first time since her release) she spent some time on the northern edge of Jeffery's ledge (a well known local fishing area). Over the past few days she moved closer in shore and headed to a small group of islands off of the Maine/Massachusetts/New Hampshire/ coast (the Isles of Shoals). It appears that she spent some time over two days hauled out on (or near) one of the smallest of the group (Duck Island). As of Sunday afternoon, it appeared that she was heading again back towards Casco Bay. We will see if she heads back to her old haunts. According to my calculations her tag should be getting close to the life of her battery. I will try to take a look at the data from the tag ans see how much longer we might expect, however so far this has been one of our longest tracks to daye (certainly for a gray seal).

2/27/03 - Well this is a strange little scene...

Attached is a map of locations for both Wadadli and Louise for the past week or so.╩╩It appears that they both have moved onto Jeffery's ledge and are rotating around between the northern and southern edges.╩╩I am not sure what the chances are of two tagged seals just bumping into each other in the Gulf of Maine, but we are getting close.╩╩It appears that Louise and Wadadli may have been as close as several miles from each other at one point.╩╩Louise appears to be very much keeping on the shallower part of the bank, while Wadadli has been keeping mostly in deeper water several miles from the northern edge of the bank.╩╩As location data from yesterday, they had switched locations,with Wadadli moving to the south end of the bank and Louise heading up to the north.

The assumption here is that both of these seals are there looking for food.╩╩In this case it would also seem to indicate that someone (probably Wadadli) is not eating their usual prey.╩╩This is one of those times you really wish you had some TDR data ... but I will see if I can check the temperature data for the two tags to see if there is some similarity (that might give us a clue if they are staying around water that is the same temperature)

curiouser and curiouser

3/7/03 - She just keeps on going.╩╩Louise appears to be staying on the northern tipof Jeffery's ledge.╩╩It also appears that she has returned to haul out at least once again on the Isles of Shoals.

3/16/03 - Pretty much the same pattern. Staying on the northern end of Jeffery's Ledge and heading in to Duck Island on the Isle of Shoals every three or four days for a bit of a haul out.

Map of "Louise" travels.

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

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