I graduated from UC San Diego in 2010 with a degree in General Biology (physiology focus) on a pre-med track. I soon decided I liked ecology more than people biology, and set out to South America with a one-way ticket and almost no plan. 1.5 years and my full savings account later, I returned to the US via many buses, taxis, and a couple planes, and sporting a handful of conservation/biology experiences. A few outdoor education and field biology jobs led me to pursue my own career in marine biology (particularly concerning large predators), and in 2014 I began an internship in this lab.
For my Master’s thesis, I am investigating the underwater movement and foraging patterns of wild California sea lions. I am approaching this goal from two angles. First, I am working with trained sea lions at SLEWTHS (here in Moss Landing) to understand how accelerometers can be used to identify when sea lions make feeding attempts.This study will provide a method by which researchers can figure out where, in a dive, wild sea lions catch prey.Second, I am analyzing movement, energy expenditure, and foraging data from wild California sea lions at San Nicolas Island, CA. The idea here is to get high-quality instantaneous measurements of metabolic energy expenditure from movement data (acceleration, magnetic compass bearing, rotational velocity) recorded by a small animal-borne datalogger. I hope this research will improve our understanding of sea lions’ underwater movements and foraging patterns, and how these patterns relate to energy expenditure during foraging trips to sea.