WhaleNet Reports
Harbor Seal

Harbor Seal

Satellite Tagging Observation Reports

Name- "Lucky"
Seal Tag

  • "Lucky" Satellite Chart
    Closer view of movements.

    1/15/01 - First locations from "Lucky" the harbor seal released by the Marine Animal Lifeline yesterday (Wednesday 1/11/01) at roughly 1:30 EST. From these locations it looks like he has headed directly offshore and north and is now roughly 10 miles east of Cape Elizabeth, Maine.

    1/16/01 - Locations for "Lucky". For the past 24 hours it appears that "Lucky" has remained in roughly the same location (near Pickering Island, Maine), roughly 120 miles north and east of his release location. From the number of "hits" from each location, it appears that he may be hauling out, and swimming in an area of roughly 30-40 foot depths near the island.

    Unfortunately I will not be able to access data for the next two days. Next update Friday.....

    1/19/01 - Here are the most recent locations for "Lucky". It appears that he has not moved from the same general location (near Pickering Island, Maine). He has been staying in a rather small area, roughly 2 mile diameter, near the island. One interesting thing to look for...The last location on the list today is exactly the same as a location from several days ago. Both locations are very accurate (LC 3), and were the result of many signals sent from the same location, during a single satellite pass. From this it appears that "Lucky" has been hauling out on the same small patch of rocks, roughly 2 tenths of a mile from the eastern corner of the island. It is very unusual to have two very accurate locations come from the same place on different days....

    1/22/01 - Location data from this past weekend. We are still getting plenty of good locations from "Lucky's" tag (keep your fingers crossed) with over five or six location fixes per day. The most accurate of these (LC 3) are received when the satellite picks up more than five (and sometimes more than ten) signals from the tag as it passes over. A satellite pass will last between ten to fifteen minutes and the tag will transmit roughly once per minute. When we get this many signals from the tag on one pass, it would seem to indicate that the tag is on the surface during the entire satellite pass. The most likely explanation is that "Lucky" is hauled out during these passes. Most of these fixes appear to be clustered around the same rocky area just to the east of Pickering Island. Over the weekend "Lucky" appears to have moved around in a slightly wider area away from the island for short periods, but returned each day to roughly the same location.

    1/24/01 - Looks like we might see how "Lucky" we really are. Here are the locations from the past two days. The most recent set ended rather abruptly at about 5:00AM (EST) yesterday. While it is not unusual to skip a few satellite passes, this is unusual for "Lucky" as for the past two days he has been signaling quite consistently. It is possible that he has hauled out of the water for long enough to shut down the tag (if the tag is dry for more than six hours it will shut down to conserve battery power), or he has hauled out in an area that is blocking transmissions from the tag.

    Meanwhile the location data show "Lucky" to be located in much the same place as the past five days or so, staying close to Pickering Island Maine.

    Keep your fingers crossed...

    1/26/01 - Well, it appears that "Lucky" is still on-line and may be on the move. After apparently playing "rock potato" (sort of the harbor seal equivalent of a couch potato) for the past week or so on the rocks around Pickering Island, "Lucky" may be heading offshore. The last few locations from the past two days seem to show him moving to the north and east. The last location puts him just to the south of Swans Island Maine. If this is correct, this is the first major move he has made since his release. Hopefully we will see Monday, if he is in fact "on the move".

    1/30/01 - Looks like "Lucky" is still moving. From yesterday's data it appeared that he might head along the coast. Instead it appears that he has headed offshore and is now roughly 40 miles offshore from the nearest land. He is almost due east of his release point just south of Portland, Maine. From this location offshore he could head in any number of directions, either back towards the coast of Maine New Hampshire or Massachusetts, or continue to head offshore.

    Hopefully we will se in the next few days where he will go...

    2/6/01 - A bit of catching up to do. When we last left "Lucky" he had begun to move4 away from the coast and to the south. Over the past few days he has continued in this same general direction. He has, however slowed down quite a bit. He is now roughly 100 miles south of the location where he began this offshore run. He is now a little more than 50 miles east of Boston. The nearest coastline is about 30 miles away, either Cape Anne (Glouchester, Mass) or Provincetown , Mass. During the past few days he appears to be circling a shallow area known as the Wildcat Ledges. Although this is shallower than the surrounding water, it is still quite deep compared to the shallow water he was keeping near when he was first released.

    2/8/01 - Latest locations for "Lucky" the seal. It seems that while I was writing the last update "Lucky" was changing directions and heading in the opposite direction of what I was predicting. As of early yesterday morning "Lucky" abruptly changed direction, headed east, and his last location puts him, once again, over Wildcat Knoll. This is a relatively shallow area roughly twenty miles east of Stellwagon Bank. It is about 30 miles from the nearest land (Cape Ann, and Provincetown, Mass) and is about sixty miles east of Boston. While this is a relatively shallow area, compared to the surrounding area, it still is quite a bit deeper than the area he was in at the first part of his track while he was near shore. I have done a quick check of the depths under his location points for the past few days and he is mostly over water roughly 150-200 meters deep.

    2/9/01 - Not very much data today...Only three locations. Received a number of "single hits" from the tag, but no location. Usually this mens that the tag is not getting clear signals off, perhaps because it is being blocked by waves, when the weather is rough. We will see.
    These locations are from the same general area as yesterday (Wildcat Knoll). Last report was slightly to the east.
    I have also attached two maps, one shows the track placed over a recent sea surface temperature map and the second is a track with the depth contours showing.

    2/12/01 - New locations for "Lucky" from this weekend. At this point we have passed (just) the one month mark for this track.

    Looks like I have been faked out once again...As of early Friday, it appeared that "Lucky" was heading offshore once again, however, during the later part of that day and over the weekend, he changed direction once again and headed west towards the coast. In fact, it appears that he spent about 14 hours moving along and hauling out for short periods along the coast of Massachusetts, near the towns of Duxburry and Plymouth. He then appears to have moved offshore again into the middle of Cape Cod Bay. His most recent positions, from early this morning put him roughly ten miles from the shore of either Provincetown, Wellfleet, or Barnstable. Hopefully we will see tomorrow which direction he chooses. So far I have a pretty poor record for trying to out guess where he will go next.

    2/14/01 - The latest. Looks like "Lucky" has decided to head into Wellfleet Harbor (Wellfleet, Massachusetts). His latest location puts him on the eastern side of Wellfleet Harbor. Several of the locations from yesterday show that he spent some time (probably hauled out) on a sand bar at the mouth of the harbor (Billingsgate Shoal). It is odd that he was over this area at high tide and at night (this is a shallow sand bar and I am not sure how much of it is above water at high tide)). But this area has, in the past, been the location of some of the largest seal haulouts on the in side of Cape Cod Bay. So far this track has been quite interesting, as we have been able to follow "Lucky" as he moved from Maine to Massachusetts. Stranding records and reports seem to show that harbor seals move from north to the south during the winter, but we have had few opportunities to see one actually make the trip. Also, because "lucky" was born this past summer, this is quite likely the first time he has been in this area. Yet he seems to have managed to come ashore almost precisely where some of the largest groups of seals can generally be found. Maybe he is lucky after all.

    2/15/01 - The latest locations for "Lucky". It appears that after a short stay in Wellfleet, and a quick visit to Barnstable harbor, "Lucky" has once again headed out of Cape Cod Bay. His latest position puts him close to the edge of Stellwagon Bank, and about 25 miles from the nearest land (Gloucester, Mass).

    2/19/01 - Locations for "Lucky" from this weekend show that he has continued to steer offshore. He seems to be back close to the area he was hanging around before he headed into Cape Cod Bay. His latest locations put him on the southern part of Wildcat Knoll (roughly 5-8 miles from his location a couple of weeks ago).

    2/26/01 - Looks like we may have a problem. Over the weekend we received messages from "Lucky" only on Saturday. No messages Sunday or this morning. It might not be unusual for the satellite to miss the tag if there was something blocking the transmissions, such as bad weather, or if "Lucky" were on shore and the tag was either blocked or had shut down because it was out of the water long enough to put it into "sleep" mode (the tag shuts down when out of the water for more that 6 hours to save battery power when a seal hauls out for a long time). "Lucky" does not appear to be even close to land, and weather might block a few transmissions, but not all of them for two days. I am checking with the satellite service to be sure there is not a problem in the network somewhere ( one suspicious thing is that the last signal from the tag came at the same time as usual for the day...if this was the last time the tag signaled, it would be a weird coincidence ). If it is not a problem with the network, there are only three general possibilities, the tag failed, the tag fell off or something happened to "Lucky". I would suspect the tag, if the last transmission coincided with when the tag is scheduled for it's daily shutdown (the most likely malfunction would be that the tag shut dawn and failed to start again...) this does not appear to be the case. I would be more likely to suspect the attachment of the tag, if "Lucky" were spending a lot of time on shore, or was on shore when we lost transmission (tags and attachments can be more readily damaged when seals are bouncing the tags off of rocks while they are on shore). Lucky appears to have been spending only a small amount of time on shore recently, so this does not seem likely. Which leaves us with the last possibility. Hopefully, this is not the case, and we will hear from the tag again. However, the longer we do not hear from the tag, the less likely we will hear from the tag. So, I will be checking data, and trying to find some clues as to why we are not getting signals. I will be back with what I find, sooner if we start getting more messages from the tag again.

    Meanwhile, the last set of data that we have so far shows "Lucky" still on the southern part of Wildcat Knoll. The last location in the set, is not a very reliable one (low LC class...B) so it is hard to say if this was really the last position, but if it was, this point is roughly 20 miles east of the knoll...this location is over some of the deepest waster in the Gulf of Maine.

    January/February Reports / March/April Reports / May Reports

    More seal data is available in the current WhaleNet Listserv. Sort and go to FIND for "Seal Data", "Lucky" entries.
    Map of "Lucky's" travels.

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