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UC Santa Cruz graduate students hope to teach 32 Monterey Bay classrooms about elephant seals

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KION-TV)- A group of UC Santa Cruz graduate students hopes to get donations to teach 32 Monterey Bay classrooms of K-12 students in about elephant seal science.

This group of four PhD students and one professor went out during the spring and studied 32 elephant seals. They said they measured each seal and put a sensor on them to observe diving behavior, migration routes, and feeding success during the seal's seven-month and 5,000-kilometer oceanic feeding migration.

NOAA Fisheries

"The project stems from our work at Año Nuevo Natural Reserve, which is home to nearly 10,000 elephant seals," said the group on their crowdfund post. "During the breeding season, bigger males have more success at fighting for access to females than smaller males. But do extremely large bodies in males have other benefits or drawbacks? To answer this question, we are measuring food requirements and diving abilities in male and female seals from birth to adulthood."

Each donation of $200 will assure the group can attend one classroom in the fall. The group plans to send a graduate student to a donating classroom bringing scientific tools, classroom materials, a presentation about elephant seal natural history, their current research findings and a research t-shirt or sticker for each student.

The group consists of the following students:

Roxanne Beltran (professor) has written an award-winning children's book, "A Seal Named Patches," and has visited more than 4,000 K-12 students to share her research.

Salma Abdel-Raheem (PhD student) is motivated to recruit, expose, and retain students from diverse backgrounds in marine mammal science.

Dan Palance (PhD student) serves as a docent at the Seymour Marine Discovery Center, where he communicates results from this project and others to the public.

Allison Payne (PhD student) is dedicated to increasing the representation of LGBTQIA+ scientists in STEM through science communication, public outreach, and service on DEI committees on local and international scales.

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Ricardo Tovar

Assignment/ Web Manager for KION News Channel 5/46 and Telemundo 23

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