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Picture of new San Miguel
               Island Research Station
The new San Miguel Island Research Station (top) replaces the former structure of modified cargo containers (below).

Picture of old San Miguel
               Island Research Station width=


San Miguel Island Research Station

A new research station at San Miguel Island, California, is being constructed cooperatively by NOAA and the National Park Service. The research station supports the long-term monitoring programs of NOAA and the National Park Service. The station replaces the former structure of modified cargo containers, and though not completely finished, does have a completed exterior that was built prior to the onset of winter rains.

NMML has monitored pinniped populations on San Miguel Island for over 30 years. Since enactment of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, this research has documented growth and recovery of the pinniped populations, the effects of El Niño events on pinnipeds, long-term movements of elephant seals, impacts of pollutants on premature birthing of sea lions, and the role of disease in population control.

The National Park Service has used the station to support various researchers, including those studying the endangered and endemic island fox and anthropologists exploring middens which record the activities of early humans for over 10,000 years. The station is also used as a stopover by park guests on their 6-mile walk to the Point Bennett rookery on the island. The interaction with the public provides an opportunity to showcase NOAA and its research program.

By Robert DeLong.

Gray Whale Research

From 2 October to 5 November 2003, 12 gray whale surveys were conducted in the western Strait of Juan de Fuca and off the northern Washington coast. These surveys covered 143 nautical miles (nmi) along the Washington coast and 95 nmi in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Nine gray whales were sighted and photographed off the Washington coast and five gray whales were photographed in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Further surveys were curtailed due to bad weather. The photographic surveys are used to support analysis of survival and abundance of gray whales in the Pacific Coast feeding aggregation.

By Merrill Gosho.

Washington/Oregon Steller Sea Lion Research

Dedicated resight surveys of Steller sea lions have been conducted from northern California to northern Washington State since 2002 to record the distribution and abundance of tagged and branded Steller sea lions. The purpose of these surveys is to compile information about distribution and to generate survival estimates for the species in this region.

Between 2 October and 5 November 2003, resight surveys were conducted along the northern coast of Washington. A total of nine previously branded sea lions were observed at Tatoosh Island, Carroll Island, and near Cape Alava. These sea lions consisted of seven that were branded at Rogue Reef, Oregon, and two at Cape Saint George in northern California.

A series of three resight surveys were conducted in northern California and Oregon between 20 October and 13 December 2003. During this time, 62 individual branded Steller sea lions were observed in October, 43 in November, and 39 in December. Most were observed at three sites in Oregon including Cascade Head, Cape Arago, and the Sea Lion Caves.

By Patrick Gearin.


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