Leroy was one of the first fishers to ever get a GPS tracking collar, providing immediate, new discoveries about how this “wilderness species” colonized suburbia. Dodging police and sneaking through culverts, Scott eventually found Leroy dead in a swamp - a murder mystery tied to the unusual mating behavior of fishers.
Josephine was a sea turtle who found an easy meal by raiding a fisherman’s nets. Kate was happy to help the fisherman by moving the turtle and putting a tracking device on it. Undeterred, Josephine returned to her favorite fishing spot, providing interesting data and creating a new dependable and friendly link between fisherman and turtle biologist.
Lucy met Diane the basking shark when she gave the fish a small tracking tag off the coast of Scotland. While Diane typically loafed around eating plankton, this high-tech tag showed that Diane would occasionally sprint to the surface and jump into the air over and over again.
Etumbe was rescued from captivity and became part of the first group of Bonobos to be released back into the wild. Her seniority and calm demeanor helped her become one of the leaders of this new group and also led to an incredible interaction between man and their closest wild cousin.
There are a surprising number of mountain lions in the hills just above Silicon Valley. Chris Wilmers is studying how these big cats make a living in the midst of so much Bay Area development. 36M unwittingly joined the study when he got trapped and equipped with a tracking collar with technology fancier than any other study, as you would expect from Silicon Valley.
Bobby was a big bruiser of an ocelot. When Ricardo first trapped and collared him, Bobby was feisty and scarred after prowling his tropical island home like a king, sending smaller males fleeing with flurries of claws and teeth. Eventually, however, those teeth gave-way, and the next generation of ocelots had the last laugh.
Deer 255 is part of a herd that winters in the Red Desert of Wyoming. In the spring, some animals stay locally, some migrate up into the nearby foothills, and some, like 255, keep going on a serious long-distance migration. This incredible annual movement was only discovered a decade ago, and 255 now holds the record for the longest deer migration. She was first tagged by Anna and her helicopter cowboy colleagues six years ago, and has managed the 484-mile round-trip every year. She annually dodges wolves, crosses roads, and sneaks through oil fields in her search for greener pastures and a safe place to have her fawns.
Pacman was a jaguar in the Mayan rainforests of Southern Mexico. He was easily recognized by a bite mark on his flank shaped like his namesake video game character. International collaboration between scientists led to the surprise finding that Pacman would cross a major river to patrol parts of a territory in Honduras as well. This double life seemed to work for Pacman, until a tragic and surprise ending that served as a warning to Mexican conservationists of a new threat in their country.
Biologists often use themes to name their study animals, making it easier to keep track of which group an individual was from. John Snow was a male marmot in the Game of Thrones marmot colony, obviously. As biologists tracked this marmot they were amazed at how much the animal’s story paralleled the character from the TV show [Spoiler Alert!].
Dr. Martin Wikelski shares the story of Hansai, a young stork that lost his flock while migrating south for the winter. Instead of ending up in Africa, he was stranded in Germany as winter quickly approached. Listen in to hear just how Hansai survived and brought a baby to a farm.
Studying Flammulated Owls is tough work, flailing around with tall catch-poles, at night, on mountain slopes, while avoiding the occasional bear or mountain lion. The owls don’t make it any easier, and B5 was a bit of a nemesis for Scott as he conducted his research into the movement and ecology of these tiny owls.
Marijo is a forest elephant living in Gabon where she walks a fine line between remote forests, local farmers, and ivory poachers. Amelia Meier learned the story of Marjio as she followed her GPS tracks and footprints, literally, through the forests of Gabon. By following close behind, Amelia could find fecal samples and document elephant diet and seed dispersal. But you never want to get too close to an elephant, as Amelia learned the hard way.
Lisa Kettemer met Joy the humpback whale when it enthusiastically swam up to the boat and allowed biologists to tag it. Joy’s story includes intrepid work in frigid oceans and a mysterious but real-life white whale.
You can find out more about this project including tracks from Joy and other whales here.
Vanilla Ice is a male coati who would rather hang with the ladies and their kids than do the normal solitary-male coati thing. Dr. Ben Hirsch uses video and DNA tests to document the coati soap opera and find out why.
You can learn more about Ben’s research at this page.
P22 is a mountain lion that lives under the Hollywood sign in Griffith Park. He is one of the most urban large cats in the world with one of the smallest home ranges (8 mi2). As part of his research with Los Angeles carnivores, Dr. Seth Riley has been following P22 since 2012 and joins us to tell his remarkable story. The survival of P22 for over 10 years shows how large predators and people can survive together, but also highlights the challenges the Los Angeles lion population faces for the future as the remaining natural areas get more and more isolated. The story of P22 shows that there is hope for these big cats, and Seth ends with a bold proposal that could not only ensure the future of Hollywood lions, but help other species as well.
Bravo Luis was subordinate male in a monkey group who liked to hang out on the edges and never stood up to fight for the group. This all changed when a long rainstorm wiped out the other group males and only Bravo and a few females survived. Dr. Meg Crofoot has been following Bravo Luis for over 15 years and tells the story of this reluctant monkey leader.
Osito was a young male bat living in a dingy drainage ditch who struggled to maintain the interest of a local pack of young females. Dr. Teague O’Mara tells about Osito’s struggles and expands on his research in Panama into how bats know where to find food.
You can learn more about Teague’s research at his website teagueomara.com or by following him on twitter teague_o.
Giant pythons have escaped from captivity and started to invade southern Florida. Biologists are scrambling to learn about how these snakes survive, with the hopes of eventually eradicating this invasive species. Monica Lasky tells the story of Jaeger, a huge snake she radio-tagged and later tracked deep into the Everglades, dodging sawgrass and alligators along the way.
Pluie was one of the first animals to wear a satellite tracking collar with global readout, meaning her movements could be tracked no matter how far she went - and did she every go far! Dr. Mark Hebblewhite tells how the incredible movements of this one wolf inspired a new effort to protect large landscapes, from Yukon to Yellowstone (Y2Y), needed by large carnivores. She also was featured on an episode of the West Wing.