Blog

Drakes Beach Changes Mean WWD Process Updates

Hello Docents, thanks to all of you who were in the park this last weekend. By all accounts, the weekend was a huge success and docents have played a significant role in that success. Because the seals have taken over Drakes Beach, we have made a number of significant changes in the way that we are managing the weekend. Please read ALL of the below notes to better prepare you for your upcoming shifts: Access – the Drakes Beach Access…

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Shutdown Over (for at least 3 weeks)

Remember the halycon training days of December? Who knew that we were barreling towards the longest shutdown in U.S. history? Well, it seems we are slowly ramping up to full, standard operations and the Winter Wildlife season will commence next weekend. Please check your scheduled dates! I’ll be getting up to speed this week and get the latest count on e seals for you.  All of the logistics will be worked on this week and I’ll be in touch via…

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Seals During Shutdown

On Tuesday, I went to the elephant seal overlook to check things out and was delighted to hear the loud sounds of e seal pups as soon as I opened my car door at the Chimney Rock parking lot. I scoped out the seals and counted 9 pups and a total of about 80 seals from the overlook. I then walked to the end of Chimney Rock trail and spent 30 minutes whale watching but no joy.  I very much…

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Elephant Seal Diet Re-examined, Whale Earwax, and a Birthday!

One of the most frequently asked questions we get is “What do elephant seals eat?” and squid is often at the top of the list. But some new research challenges this belief! If you haven’t voraciously sucked up the article yet, like the way an elephant seal sucks up its prey, read “Energy-Rich Mesopelagic Fishes Revealed as a Critical Prey Resource for a Deep-Diving Predator Using Quantitative Fatty Acid Signature Analysis”! Thanks to Sarah Codde for bringing this to my…

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Welcome new crew members to the Winter Wildlife Docent Program!

This past weekend was a great success but, first, please keep fellow docents and all members of your communities in your thoughts as fires continue to rage throughout California. Stay safe! On Saturday, ten new docents, along with fifteen returning docents, were treated to the usual brilliance of Sarah Allen and Sarah Codde. They delivered Whales 101 and Elephant Seals 101 presentations, respectively.  On Sunday, new docents spent time in the field with Sean and me (btw, YAY!, Sean is…

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New Docent Training this Weekend

  2018-19 WINTER WILDLIFE NEW DOCENT TRAINING AGENDA November 10 Saturday, Red Barn Classroom by the Bear Valley Visitor Area  8:00am – 9:00am– Check in, coffee/tea mingle. Complete NPS volunteer forms. 9:00am – 11:00am – “Whales 101.” Sarah Allen, Ph.D. Science Program Lead, Pacific West Region, National Park Service. 11:00am – 11:15am – Break 11:15am – noon – “Winter Wildlife Overview 101.” Carlo Arreglo, Park Ranger – Winter Wildlife Program Manager and Sean Pickton, Lead Winter Wildlife Docent. Noon –…

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Wow! What a Day! – Blog Post by Faith Fisher

After reading in Sean’s blog that the whale count was 100+ on Saturday, March 17, I wanted to share my experiences. It was a beautiful day at the headlands. Overall the weather was perfect for whale watching, a light breeze, and partly cloudy skies. When I saw two blows off South Beach on my way to the docent meeting at Drakes Beach I hoped it was a sign of more to come. By the time I arrived at my first…

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Humpback Whales and Drones – Blog Post by Sterling Hada

What do marine mammals, specifically humpback whales, and drones have in common? The answer depends on your perspective. If you’re with the National Park Service, likely you hope the two never meet. If, however, you’re a biologist, it’s possible you might use one to study the other. That is exactly what Amy Apprill, an associate scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, is doing. Within the last few years, scientists have found that there exist, on and in humans, colonies of…

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Farewells and Awesome Art

It has been a few weeks since my last post. Apologies. We have said farewell to the adult elephant seals. They are off to forage, looking to gain calories that have been spent during the last few months. The beaches are left with adorable weaners, learning to swim and lounging on the sand. Whale counts are on the rise and today we set another record with 100+ whales, including two Minke whales. With just a few weekends left, each day…

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