This past weekend, Greg Frankfurter and I had a wonderful opportunity to learn some new tricks from some of our USGS (United States Geological Service) colleagues who work on Mare Island (near Vallejo, CA). Before getting down to business, Susan De La Cruz showed us around her historic workplace: The Mare Island Transmitter Site for US Radio NPG. During its heyday, it served as one of the main Pacific radio transmitter stations between ships and shore commands. Its seen better days, but is still a fascinating remnant of a bygone era.
The true purpose of our trip was to meet up with Susan, her team and Paul Gibbons, DVM. Susan’s team uses radiotelemetry to better understand the ecology and movements of waterbirds and applies this information to enhance conservation efforts.
To learn more about radiotelemetry, click on the video below. Note, although I chose this clip because I found it informative, yet amusing, it introduces radiotelemetry using a VHF radio signal. These days Susan’s team relies mostly on transmitters that use signals from satellites, but there is a whole variety of tracking options that exist today.
Dr. Paul has historically provided the veterinary services for the project and thus, Greg, I and another wildlife veterinarian (Maris Brenn-White, DVM) were there to learn about his technique for placing transmitters. Since the ducks decided to outsmart the team by refusing to be interested in the delicious corn placed the inside the live traps, we moved on to plan B…which was to practice using cadavers.
In the end, it was a successful day for all. And as a bonus, three more veterinarians are trained to help out…should the ducks ever decide to be hungry!