Well, I have been putting this not off for a while, but have to give you the final part of "Bubba's" story.
Below are two more points. One is the last transmission from "Bubba's" tag, received on May 25. At that point he was mid-way across the mouth of the Gulf of St.Lawrence. I was expecting only a few more signals at best, as it appeared that the tag was losing power, and signals were becoming erratic. I was not expecting where the final point would come from. On Sunday the 28th "Bubba" was found caught in a fishing net near the town of La Poise on the southwestern coast of Newfoundland. This was a net set close to shore, and these types of nets are generally tended quite frequently. Over the weekend, however the weather was poor and the nets stayed in longer than usual (the poor weather may also have been part of the reason I did not receive messages from the tag). Unfortunately, "Bubba" died in the net.
While this was far from what we hoped and expected to happen when "Bubba" was released in Maine, back in February. We have learned an incredible amount from this track and stand to learn even more as we analyse the data. This is the first time we have followed a hooded seal that has remained close to shore and spent so much time in the Gulf of Maine. In fact, "Bubba's" track may be quite unusual. No other hooded seal I have tracked has been on shore as many times. Certainly returning to shore (and spending this much time near the coast) increases the risk from nets and other hazards. It was reported that "Bubba" did not appear thin or in ill health, so we have learned that he was able to find and catch enough food. It also appears that successful survival for a released seal may mean more than simply finding enough food.