SPEAKER SERIES 2013-2014
The Puget Sound Chapter of the American Cetacean Society's Speaker Series, a free fun educational activity, occurs once a month from September through June; with a break in December for the winter weather and holidays.
18 September 2013 - Jennifer Hempelmann, NWFSC
Paternity and Male Reproductive Success in the Southern Resident Killer Whale Population (SRKW)
Jennifer will give an overview of the breeding structure of the SRKW population, including an update of the family tree with the latest paternity assignments and parentage results of deceased neonate calves.
Jennifer Hempelmann is a molecular geneticist working at NOAA's Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle. Her scientific background includes a degree in Zoology from the University of Washington and genetic research on rockfish populations. Since 2005, she has worked with marine mammal scientists to study the diet and population structure of the endangered Southern Resident killer whales by analyzing DNA found in whale scat and skin samples.
16 October 2013 - Aleen Jeffries, Pacific Biodiversity Institute
The Harbor Porpoise in Puget Sound
In the 1940s and 50s, the harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) was an
abundant cetacean in the Salish Sea. By the 1990s, its numbers and range had
shrunk to the point that it was rarely seen south of Admiralty Inlet. At
the present time, a number of anecdotal sightings may indicate that the
species is recovering, but very little is known about its population trends.
While there is no federal listing for the harbor porpoise, the Washington
Department of Fish and Wildlife has designated the harbor porpoise a State
Candidate Species. Canada has designated the harbor porpoise a Species of
Special Concern, recognizing that it is particularly vulnerable to human
activities. Aileen Jeffries, a Pacific Biodiversity Institute (PBI) board
member, initiated a project to monitor the harbor porpoise population and
trends in the Salish Sea in 2008. The long-term goal of this project is to
set a baseline for the population that can be used to realistically assess
the stability of the species. Another goal of the project is to investigate
if the harbor porpoise is a sentinel species in the Salish Sea. Aileen has
been using land-based observations and acoustic monitors to try to
understand this cryptic species. She will present data from her studies and
discuss what she is learning. Her research project is testing and
calibrating acoustic monitors as a new tool for population assessment for
the harbor porpoise.
Aileen Jeffries retired from a long career as a research physicist and has
enjoyed transferring her skills to acoustics for studying the harbor
porpoise. Pacific Biodiversity Institute is a non-profit organization
dedicated to using the best available science to enhance natural resource
planning and management decisions.
20 November 2013 - Dr. Paul Wade, NMML/AFSC/NOAA
New insights into Bigg's (transient-type) killer whales from the western Aleutian Islands -- a squid-eating separate species of killer whale?
Recent studies using whole mitochondrial genomes indicate transient-type killer whales in the North Pacific have been separated from other killer whales for hundreds of thousands of years, and may represent a separate species, to go along with the multiple species identified in the Antarctic. In addition, our studies in the Aleutian Islands have identified significant population structure within Bigg's killer whales, and field observations, satellite tagging and stable isotope studies suggest whales in the western Aleutians may eat a substantial amount of squid in addition to marine mammals.
Dr. Wade is a research fisheries biologist in the Cetacean Program (http://www.afsc.noaa.gov/nmml/cetacean/) at the National Marine Mammal Laboratory, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries, in Seattle, Washington. He is also an Affiliate Professor at the School of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences at the University of Washington. He has conducted population and ecological research on gray, bowhead, right, humpback and false killer whales, and on spotted, spinner, striped, and common dolphins.
Since 2001 his field research has focused on killer whales in the Aleutian Islands and Bering Sea. He is a member of the U.S. delegation to the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission, the Cetacean Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, and the Steering Committee of the SPLASH North Pacific humpback whale project (http://hawaiihumpbackwhale.noaa.gov/science/splashinfo.html). He has published over 70 peer-reviewed papers, and over 50 additional non peer-reviewed scientific documents.
December - on hiatus
15 January 2014 - Robin Baird, Cascadia Research Collective
Hawai i's resident and not-so-resident Blackfish: recent studies of false killer whales and killer whales in Hawai i
There are two top predators in the marine environment in Hawaii, both of which are very rare, the false killer whale, which cooperatively hunts for large pelagic fish like tuna and swordfish, and the killer whale, which feeds on sharks, dolphins, squid, and other whales. One of these is resident to the islands, one only passes through the area, and one of them was listed as Endangered in 2012, the most recent species of whale listed under the Endangered Species Act. This presentation will summarize what is known about both species in Hawaiian waters including recent results from tagging and photo-identification.
Robin Baird is a research biologist with Cascadia Research Collective, based in Olympia. Although still dabbling with work on killer whales in the Pacific Northwest, most of his research for the last 14 years has been focused on toothed whales and dolphins in Hawaiian waters. He is also a member of the Committee of Scientific Advisors of the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission, an adjunct faculty at Hawaii Pacific University and the University of Washington, and a member of the false killer whale Take Reduction Team.
19 February 2014 - Uko Gorter
Whales as a source of raw materials: A look at historic and recent whale products
The lure of hunting whales in the past can be explained when we consider the high value placed on the raw materials that could be extracted from them. While in earlier times the whales were stripped of blubber and whalebone (baleen), and the rest of the carcass discarded at sea, technological advances in the twentieth century made it possible to utilize the entire whale. From whalebone corsets to spermaceti candles, from military explosives to cattle feed, we'll take a closer look at the extensive and strange variety of whale products derived from these leviathans.
We will have a sizeable collection of historic and recent whale products on hand (which you may touch), each with their own interesting and disturbing story.
Born in Arnhem, Holland, Uko Gorter is a scientific and natural history illustrator, specializing in marine mammals and marine fauna. Uko joined the American Cetacean Society in 2001, and is the president of the Puget Sound Chapter.
19 March 2014
7:30-8 PM: Casey Mclean, Soundside Marinelife Rescue Center
Soundside Marinelife Rescue Center is a local 501c3 nonprofit working to establish Washington's first Marine Animal Hospital. Every year hundreds of marine animals strand on our shores and many do not have suitable options for care. Some of the problems they face can be traced to human interaction or pollution, and as our population increases more human interaction cases are seen. The public outcry for help for these animals is becoming louder and well-meaning citizens sometimes take matters into their own hands. Currently we rely on two organizations that are capable of only helping a very small percentage of the marine animals in need of rehabilitation. Soundside is working to remedy the problem by building a hospital that can not only rehabilitate marine mammals and birds, but also provide public education and support research. Soundside's President, Casey Mclean, will introduce you to the organization and expand upon their mission and goals to help marine mammals throughout the state of Washington.
8-9 PM: Franciscana (La Plata river dolphin) On the Brink of Survival
Film documentary, Portugese with English subtitles. (61 min)
Presented by the Brazilian conservation group, Projeto Toninhas (Project Franciscana), this unique documentary highlights the biology, research, and conservation efforts on behalf of one of this most endangered dolphin species off South America. It is the most comprehensive film documentary of the franciscana (Pontoporia blainvillei) every produced.
To produce the video documentary, the team traveled to the various regions within the range of the franciscana, from the Espírito Santo in Brazil, down to Northern Patagonia in Argentina. Filming was done between February 2011 and July 2012, with over 200 hours of recording, traveling more than 80 days and conducting more than 90 interviews.
The aim was to produce unique images of the franciscana in its natural habitat; the ongoing research; and the threats that directly affect this species. As a highly coastal species, its plight echoes the problems faced by the entire coastal ecosystem. Fisheries interactions (entanglements), pollution through chemical toxins, habitat degradation, and ocean noise, are some of the main issues threatening this smallest of all cetaceans. Interviews with fishermen, researchers, and managers of protected areas lend their voices as stakeholders of a marine environment that is shared by all.
Produced by Mundo Marinho. Sponsored by Petrobras through Petrobras Environmental Program.
16 April 2014 - Dr. Glenn Gailey, Cascadia Research Collective
Understanding, Monitoring and Mitigating Anthropogenic Impacts on a Critically Endangered Gray Whale Population off Sakhalin Island, Russia
The western gray whale population is one of the most critically endangered baleen whale populations in the world. In close proximity to their only known feeding grounds off northeastern Sakhalin Island, Russia, an escalating amount of anthropogenic activity has occurred over the past decade due to oil and gas exploration and development. To minimize potential disturbance to this population of gray whales, several monitoring programs were established to better understand the population dynamics, foraging/behavioral ecology, and abundance and distribution of these animals. This presentation will summarize our current knowledge of this endangered population of whales and highlight the evolution of mitigation and monitoring strategies with an increasing amount of knowledge about the animals and impact assessments on numerous activities over the past decade.
Dr. Gailey is a researcher at Cascadia Research Collective in Olympia. His research focuses on understanding behavioral ecology of cetaceans as well as identifying anthropogenic factors that may influence these behaviors. He has gained and applied his knowledge to a variety of different cetacean species in equally diverse habitats around the world. He is currently focused on behavioral impacts related to Indo-pacific humpback dolphins in Hong Kong, western gray whales in Russia, and Controlled Exposure Experiments on marine mammals to better understand behavioral responses to sound. He has also designed and developed several of the latest scientific software tools that facilitate data processing, visualization, management and analyses for research techniques such as photo-identification, theodolite tracking and passive acoustic monitoring.
21 May 2014 - Donna Hauser (University of Washington)
18 June 2014 - Dawn Noren, NWFSC/NOAA
Southern Resident Killer Whale Research