July 20, 2004
I arrived at the Long Marine Lab about 9:15am after several delays due to checking out of the hotel. Ann was there and I assisted her with preparing the fish for Forrest and LT. We had to switch the animals between the larger and smaller pools. Forrest was going to be released back at Ano Nuevo later in the afternoon so he was scheduled to get a "free feed" which was essentially a large amount of herring. After the feeding, I worked on Rick's data and finished another book of data. He gave me two additional field note books to work on. From what I could gather, he has entered all the data from Ano Nuevo elephant seal counts but now is in the process of checking the entries. Carey and I did the afternoon feeding of LT and Forrest. LT was moved to the larger pool and Forrest was left in the penned area but not the pool. Preparations were made such as getting the cage in place, getting the forklift, and pulling the truck into position. The cage was put near the doorway. We had to leave the cover off because Forrest did not want to enter the cage at all. I held the doorway at the opposite end open so he could see the light and might think of it as a tunnel. In the process then, he would move into the cage and both end doors would be slipped into position. He did not want to enter the cage for quite some time. Finally, he entered and kept going in. However, the door on the cage had to be lifted several times due to Forrest making attempts to turn around in the cage. As a result his head would get stuck in an uncomfortable position and everyone was worrying that he would not breath when he did this. Eventually, he was turned around and lifted onto the truck with the forklift. His final weight was 296 kilograms. However, once again he got his head stuck into position trying to turn around. The ropes had to be removed along with the cords holding the top of the cage in place. Once turned around again, we took off for Ano Nuevo.
Arriving at Ano Nuevo was a bitter-sweet moment. We traveled along the research road to the beach area, backing the truck up to the dune line. Opening the cage, we released Forrest. Forrest exited the cage, turning back to look at us. He really was hesitant to leave at first. He slowly made his way from the dunes toward the beach. There were 5 or 6 large, male elephant seals on the beach and one small yearling. I returned to the lab with Carey and said my good-byes to all the people I had worked with. I was just really getting settled in with the routine and now I have to leave! I then headed to San Jose, first to return the rental car, and then headed to the hotel for my early flight out tomorrow.
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