The Monarch Monitoring Project is a long-term study on monarch migration through Cape May, NJ. It is a part of the New Jersey Audubon Research Department, and closely affiliated with the Cape May Bird Observatory.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Tagging demos underway

The monarchs are migrating through Cape May, meaning the time has come for our annual series of Monarch Tagging demos.  We started on Friday, September 14, and will conduct one of these fun sessions every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday until October 14.  Occasionally we will give a special tagging demo for a visiting group or a special event, and our team gives impromptu tagging demos around Cape May Point almost every day.  The scheduled demos begin at 2:00 pm and are held in Cape May Point State Park at the East Picnic Shelter, which is adjacent to the famous Hawkwatch Platform.

Each demo begins with a short talk about monarch biology and migration, the research efforts underway at Cape May, and some ways that every citizen can help conserve migratory monarchs.  We then split into smaller groups to show our guests how monarchs are tagged.  The program usually lasts 30 to 45 minutes, though members of Team Monarch usually stay longer to answer questions and chat with other monarch fans.  There is no fee for the program, though contributions are accepted (and we offer a few thank you gifts for contributors).

Here are some action shots from recent tagging demos.  Thanks to Amy Gaberlein and Scott Whittle for sharing some of the photos posted here.

Julia Druce, our 2012 Intern, explains the research protocol to a group.
Louise Zemaitis, longtime Field Coordinator for the Project, works with part of the group.
Louise shows everyone a sheet of monarch tags.
Julia works with others from the group.

She shows how to place the tag on a monarch's wing.

Voila!  A tagged monarch.
We often have project volunteers helping with the demos.  Here Lynn Lee tags a monarch while visitors watch.
Gayle Steffy has been studying monarchs for many years, helping us at Cape May and at other sites across the mid-Atlantic region.
Mark Garland helps at many of the demos, too.

Everyone loves a close-up look at a monarch butterfly, soon to be released to continue its journey to Mexico.

Louise Zemaitis releases a tagged monarch onto the hand of one of the demo visitors.  Moments later it was airborne.

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