We have come to the end of the first leg of SOCAL-11. We worked offshore the last two days based on the forecast of light winds and calm seas, but this didn't entirely materialize. We worked up by Santa Barbara Island in relatively low winds but moderate swell, looking and listening for beaked whales in deepwater canyons. By noon the winds had come up enough to eliminate chances for locating and tagging beaked whales and we switched gears to try for more coastal species in the lee of the northern Channel Islands. We didn't find them there, but yesterday we found several groups of fin whales, Risso's dolphins, and sighted two beaked whales. The fog came in though, and it started raining a little, and despite hours of trying with different groups, we didn't manage to tag on our last day.
Nevertheless, the first leg of SOCAL was quite productive, with a total of 22 tags attached to 20 individual marine mammals (blue whales and Risso's dolphins), and 14 total controlled experiments conducted, each with detailed focal observations and monitoring before, during, and after sound transmissions. I will be posting some additional details and images on our first leg in the coming weeks, and the planning for the second leg starting next month. Thanks so much for all the people following our progress and for all the feedback.
Brandon Southall, Chief Scientist on behalf of SOCAL-11 team