NEW YORK, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- U.S. wildlife experts say they've tracked a southern elephant seal for an astonishing 18,000 miles, a journey equivalent to New York to Sydney and back again.
Researchers at the Wildlife Conservation Society tracked the male seal, nicknamed Jackson, from December 2010 to last month.
The animal was tagged on the beach in Admiralty Sound in Tierra del Fuego in southern Chile and fitted with a small satellite transmitter that recorded his exact location every time he surfaced to breathe, a society release said Tuesday.
The said swam around an area 1,000 miles north, 400 miles west, and 100 miles south from the original tagging location, piling up miles as he swam through fjords and ventured past the continental shelf foraging for fish and squid, researchers said.
"Jackson's travels provide a road map of how elephant seals use the Patagonian Coast and its associated seas," Caleb McClennen, the society's director for global marine programs, said. "This information is vital to improving ocean management in the region, helping establish protected areas in the right places, and ensuring fisheries are managed sustainably without harming vulnerable marine species like the southern elephant seal."
The organization said Jackson has returned to Admiralty Sound, the site of the original tagging, to haul ashore and find a mate.
The satellite transmitter is expected to work until early next year when it will eventually fall off, researchers said.