Field Frame Friday: Confetti Heads for Science

Sometimes the smallest changes can make the biggest difference in research! In rehabilitation, elephant seals get these nifty “hat tags” so that when there are a lot of seals in one pen, we can easily identify who is who with minimal disturbance (they like to sleep all piled together, and being sick, they like to…

Field Frame Friday: Someone turn up the heat!

Rock Hyraxes (Procavia capensis), elephant’s closest land relative, are grumpy little floofs with poor thermoregulation (the ability to regulate their body temperature). Luckily they are gregarious and to keep warm, pile on top of each other in burrows until the sun comes out, then take their cuddle puddle outside to bask in the sun together….

Field Frame Friday: I don’t feel like sciencing today

In animal behavior research, we are often at the mercy of our animal collaborators. Acai, a harbor seal in rehabilitation, was uninterested in checking out this PVC puzzle in the water as a part of her cognitive tests. While frustrating that she didn’t want to participate, her behavior still provides valuable information that can help…

Field Frame Friday: Plumbing Project or Pinniped Puzzle?

Before my field season, my garage turns into a Santa’s workshop- if Santa were a seal and the workshop made only food puzzles. Prepping for my field season means lots of trips to the hardware store and getting confused looks from the employees on why I have my arms full of PVC pipes while I…

Field Frame Friday: Shake that tail feather!

Spotted on the border of Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo, this male African Paradise Flycatcher (Terpsiphone viridis) uses his long tail feathers to attract a mate, for life. During the mating season his 2 central tail feathers will grow to be 30 cm (or almost a foot) long, so that he can put on…

Field Notes: It takes a village

After last year’s field season was canceled because of the pandemic followed by a full year of virtual meetings, conferences, socializing, and the never-ending pinging of emails in my inbox, sitting at my laptop was about the very last place I wanted to be at the start of summer. Contrarily, being in the fog of the Marin Headlands,…

Field Frame Friday: Harbor Seal Class of 2021

The best part of my field season is seeing the subjects that I worked with while they were in rehabilitation get released back into the ocean! These harbor seal pups came to The Marine Mammal Center (MMC) in Sausaltio, CA as young as a few days old, malnourished, and separated from their moms. But after…

Field Frame Friday: Don’t stick so close to me!

Ever been tidepooling and poked your finger in a squishy sea anemone just to see its petal-like arms grasp your finger? You may have noticed a somewhat sticky feeling as you shake those arms free, but how can something be sticky underwater? That sticky sensation you feel are actually nematocysts, which are microscopic stinging cells…

Field Frame Friday: The Sum of It’s Parts

It is pretty amazing the amount of enrichment supplies “The Manatee” (the name of my trusty Prius) can hold! While all this equipment may not look anything like what a seal interacts with in the ocean, to quote Aristotle, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” From PVC pipes to milk crates…

Field Frame Friday: Sugar Rush Memories

Rainbow lorikeets (Trichoglossus moluccanus) are nectarivores (i.e. feed on nectar, pollen, flowers, and soft fruits) that use contingencies to remember what flowers they have recently fed at, so they do not waste energy returning to a nectar-depleted flower. This requires cognitive abilities to encode, retain and integrate relevant information while foraging! [Photo and caption by…