WhaleNet Reports
Harbor Seal

Harbor Seal

Satellite Tagging Observation Reports

Name- "Lucky"
Seal Tag

  • "Lucky" Satellite Chart
    Closer view of movements.

    5/1/01 - A few more locations to report. Although we are not getting a lot of messages, we are still getting enough to get a pretty good idea about what "Lucky" is doing. The small number of locations may be due to sea conditions, or , more likely, some power drop in the tag, which should be getting close to the end of its battery life.

    Anyway, even though we do not have many locations what we have is probably some of the coolest stuff we have gotten so far.

    It appears that "Lucky" is once again headed towards Wildcat Knoll, and did make an abrupt change in direction when he crossed his earlier tracks. How did he know where to turn? Beats me...However, if you plot his track for about the past four days, you will see that he makes an sharp left hand turn as he crosses his former tracks (over Jefferies ledge) and changes direction from going east to south, headed towards Wildcat Knoll.

    5/8/01 - Still on line and still cris- crossing the Gulf of Maine. To catch up. During the latter part of last week "Lucky" appears to have continued south along the edge of Wildcat Knoll to a location that he has spent quite a lot of time over the past several months. This time, however he did not stay very long in this location and almost immediately began to move north and east again. Over the weekend he headed back to near the coast of Maine, and followed along the coast (several miles offshore, until he reached the same location that he headed south from (about ten days ago). Our last locations appear to be from the same haul out area near Vinalhaven Island, Maine. It appears that he has hauled out long enough (longer than six hours) to shut down the tag for today. Probably a well deserved rest, as the trip from Vinalhaven to Wildcat Knoll is roughly 120 miles ...one way. Quite a swim, and quite a good sense of direction for a young seal....

    A few more hits from "Lucky". These show him still near shore near a small island (Leadbetter Island) off of the west coast of an only somewhat larger island (Vinalhaven Island) on mid-coast Maine. The better "LC" (location code...3 is the best...in descending order 2,1,0,A,B,) is a result of both more "hits" per location (more signals being picked up per satellite pass), meaning he is either on shore or at the surface for a longer period of time, and he is not moving as much (the satellite gets weirded out when the transmitter it is supposed to be finding keeps moving around, and will give the location a larger error class).

    5/9/01 - Todays locations for "Lucky" have him in pretty much the same location as yesterday. He seems to be keeping close to the west coast of Ledbetter Island (Maine). Given the distribution of the locations around the area, it does ot appear that he is spending a great deal of time hauled out. A couple of things of interest, however. If you check the tides (see data below), you will see that many of the "better" "LC" classes (times when the satellite gets more "hits" and the signal is probably not moving a great deal) seem to occur around the times of the low tide. This is generally when seals like to haul out. As it happens, this is also a time of good satellite coverage for us (and the time when the tag is not shut down for battery saving), however, if he continues to stay near the coast, it will be interesting to see if his pattern continues to hold. Also, if you check back through the archive, you will find that about four of these locations are the same as locations we have gotten before. All of these "hits" are quite precise, so we can be fairly sure that these were sent while "Lucky" was on a small haul out. From this we can get a bit of a picture of what his activity has been like...basically skipping from small rock to small rock.

    This location is also a bit unusual as the water is quite deep close to shore.

    Keep your fingers crossed for how long we will be getting signals, on Friday we will reach four months of tracking...this makes "Lucky" the harbor seal we have tracked for the longest period of time.

    5/10 01 - More news from "Lucky". After about a week near the coast, it appears that "Lucky" is once again, on the move. His latest position is about 24 miles south west of yesterday, and he appears to be following close to his most recent track to the south. If all of this sounds a bit confusing, trust me, it is confusing. Hopefully we will be able to see if he follows the same (or a similar track) back south and west back to Wildcat Knoll.

    5/11/01 - Here is the latest from "Lucky". And yes he is on the move again. He has continued south and west and has moved about 50-60 miles since yesterday. Quite a run for a small seal. Although he is not following any of his previous tracks very closely, he is heading in the general direction of Wildcat Knoll. His last location was roughly half way between Vinalhaven (his starting point) and Wildcat Knoll (the location he left roughly two weeks ago).

    As of today we have also hit two other landmarks. Today marks four months we have been tracking "Lucky", this makes him the longest (and certainly the most detailed) track we have gotten for a harbor seal so far. Keep your fingers crossed, that those batteries hold out for a bit longer. Another month and "Lucky" would be due to molt and drop off his transmitter when he looses the hair it is stuck to....

    5/14/01 - Location fixes from over the weekend. These show that "Lucky" has continued his trip south and offshore again. His path generally following his previous paths south (although he clearly is not near either of those tracks). As of early this morning he is located roughly thirty miles east of Cape Ann Massachusetts. This location is just to the north of Wildcat Knoll which is about ten miles to the south. His present location is only 1-2 miles from the location he left, almost exactly two weeks ago. His most recent trip took roughly three days to the coast of maine, and three days back, once he left. This is a round trip of roughly 230 miles.

    Hopefully we will see where he might go from here (or if he stays around the banks as he has in the past.)

    5/17/01 - Here are the latest locations for "Lucky", from the past two days. It appears that "Lucky" has spent at least two days in nearly the same location (roughly ten miles north of Wildcat Knoll). Over the past twenty four hours or so something odd has gone on. It appears that "Lucky" has moved roughly ten miles to the east (and slightly north) bringing him into Wilkinson Basin. This is a bit odd because up until now "Lucky" has generally moved around locations that he has visited before and this is "new" territory. This is also water that is some of the deepest in the Gulf of Maine, and far to deep for "Lucky" to reach the bottom. This may mean that after only two or three days "on the bank" he is again heading back to Maine. It is too early to tell from todays data, but if we are lucky (no pun) we may find out where he is headed by tomorrow.

    5/22/01 - As of Friday there was some question whether "Lucky" was again heading back to the coast of Maine. It now appears that over the weekend that is just where he went. It appears that he headed north and stopped briefly on some small islands between th4e towns of Friendship and Tennants Harbor, Maine. His most recent location is only about five miles from his most recent haul out area near Vinalhaven Island, Maine. Hopefully we will see tomorrow if he does indeed return to the same rocks he left roughly two weeks ago.

    5/25/01 - Latest on "Lucky". A lot of data because "Lucky" has stayed close to or on shore quite a bit. Over the past two days he has moved, however from his location near Vinalhaven Island across Penobscott bay, to another small set of rocks on the western part of the Bay. Hopefully we will see if he stays near this location or if he again heads offshore. Things may be getting crowded around the seal haul outs around now as this is the middle of pupping season, and most of the prime haul out locations will be taken up by females and pups. Perhaps this is why "Lucky" has been shifting haul out locations so much lately.

    6/3/01 - Sorry for the delay on this one, but it looks like we have come to the end of "Lucky"s track. The last locations sent on the 25th, turned out to be the last transmissions we received. Rather abrupt, but not unexpected. Whenever a transmitter stops, we have only three basic possibilities. Because we are usually unable to find direct evidence of what happened, we try to eliminate the two possibilities. The possible explanations for loss of a transmitter signal would be, the tag stops, the tag falls off, or something happens to the seal. Our estimates for how long the battery would last on the tag was about three months. As it turned out we were getting close to five months. Although there is no guarantee that a seal will be able to survive, if a seal can not find food for itself, or a relapse of the condition that brought it ashore, it will not survive for months. Because this track was so long, and Lucky's behavior appeared to be so active and regular, we can be fairly certain that the tag did not stop signaling because there was something wrong with him. Did the tag fall off? Hard to say...Lucky is due to molt around the middle or end of June, and seals will sometimes start their molt early. The only reason whyI doubt this one is that they generally start to spend much more time on shore when they are getting ready to molt, and "Lucky" certainly was not doing that. As a matter of fact he was spending (as far as I could tell) very little time ashore. This leaves the tag failing. Considering that the battery had lasted longer than expected, I am favoring this as the reason. We did not receive any signals that seemed to indicate that the tag was running out of power, but that does not always happen.

    Bottom lines:

    134 days...Time of track...
    Around 1000...Number of locations...(I am still checking some points) ...
    @ 7 locations per day...average number of "hits" per day
    2,650...distance of the track (distance between those hits...a minimum distance traveled)
    @ 20 miles per day...average speed...(divide by 24 to see what that is in miles per hour)

    so...is that fast or slow???...it is well within the speeds that have been published for seal swimming speeds (but those are probably not all that accurate)

    How would that compare to how fast you could walk? (and do you think you could walk 20 miles per day...EVERY day for four and one half months???)

    Below is a link that shows you how to calculate your own walking speed, if you want to see how you compare to "Lucky"


    That appears to be it for "Lucky"

    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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