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Video | Volunteering | Mammals

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


In the second test video of sea lion-cam our aquatic photographer, Milo the sea lion, shows off his acrobatic abilities as he spins, twists, and leaps his way through the seal and sea lion exhibit at the Aquarium of the Pacific.

After some slight modifications to make the rig more comfortable for Milo to hold sea lion-cam went back into the water for more testing last week. In the resulting video, Milo catches Parker the sea lion in several porpoises from three different angles; underwater, from the surface and even from the air as Milo leaps with Parker while shooting with sea lion-cam.

In another sequence, Milo also shows how his front flippers are used to precisely maneuver underwater much like the control surfaces on an airplane wing. With the rig pointed backwards along his body we can see how some minor movements of his front flipper help in guiding him precisely through the water.

Why have a sea lion act as an underwater photographer? Well an old High School science teacher of mine whose first name coincidentally was Milo taught me that sometimes the best answers to your questions aren’t found in text books but instead are found in making your own first hand discoveries via experimentation and observation. I used that lesson learned before when I wanted to know where rehabilitated elephant seals went after their release in Southern California waters by placing a satellite tag on one (see my old blog Tracking a Seal by Satellite Jan 31, 2008). Now I’m hoping to use that same discipline to help answer the question of how our sea lions work.

As we refine the operating procedures for sea lion-cam we’ll hopefully gain a little more insight into the behavior and body mechanics of our pinnipeds at the Aquarium of the Pacific.

A special thanks to senior mammalogist Carolyn (who you see in the video) for training Milo to be a photographer and for passing the behavior on to me and the other trainers.

A still frame from the video sea lion-cam 2  | Milo the Sea Lion
Milo captures Parker the sea lion in mid air with sea lion-cam.  | Milo the Sea Lion

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