February 5, 2009
Contact: UCSC Public Affairs (831/459-2495)
UCSC elephant seal researchers caught the attention of Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert, making the February 5 episode of his show, theColbert Report.
The researchers fromTagging of Pacific Predators (TOPP)named a couple of the animals they've been tracking after Colbert and fellow Comedy Central anchor Jon Stewart, calling them Stelephant Colbert and Jon Sealwart. They also gave them Facebook pages and funny blogs. The goal was to have fun, but also to engage the public in marine science and spread the word about the information and data they were gathering from the high-tech tracking devices they attached to the seals.
The story of Stelephant Colbert and Jon Sealwart--along with other seals named by students at local elementary schools--was promoted by UC Santa Cruzin late January, as the seals hit their annual mating and molting hotspot, A�o Nuevo State Natural Reserve.
From there, the Santa Cruz Sentinel picked up the story, followed by Associated Press; it subsequently appeared in newspapers such as USA Today, the Orange County Register, and the Fresno Bee. It also spread virally among Colbert and Stewart fans, making it onto the home page of Colbert's site,Colbert Nation, and on the online news segment of Stewart's site, theDaily Show with Jon Stewart.