PREVIOUS SPEAKERS : 2009-2010 Series
The Puget Sound Chapter of the American Cetacean Society would like to sincerely thank the following presenters (and we'd like to let those members who were unable to attend know what they missed :))..
16 June 2010 - Sally Mizorch, biologist NMML
Long-term survival of humpback whales radio-tagged in Alaska from 1976 through 1978
Invasive tags designed to provide information on animal movements through radio or satellite monitoring have tremendous potential for the study of whales and other cetaceans. However, to date there have been no published studies on the survival of tagged animals over periods of years or decades.
Researchers from National Marine Mammal Laboratory and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution tracked five humpback whales with implanted radio tags in southeastern Alaska in August 1976 and July 1977, and tracked two humpback whales in Prince William Sound, Alaska, in June 1978.
All seven of these individually identified humpback whales were re-sighted at least 20 years after first being tagged, and five of the seven have been observed for more than 30 years; some of them are among the most resighted humpback whales in the North Pacific. Photos of tagging sites taken during and subsequent to tagging operations show persistent but superficial scarring and no indication of infection. These pioneering field studies demonstrated both long-term survival of the whales and the short-term effects of deploying radio tags, which at the time were larger and more invasive than those typically used today.
In her professional life as a marine biologist, Sally Mizroch studies large whale populations at NOAA Fisheries, National Marine Mammal Laboratory, in Seattle, using both photo-identification and historical whaling data to estimate whale life history parameters, vital rates, distribution, and abundance. She developed a computer-assisted matching program for humpback whale photo-identification and has written scientific papers on humpback, blue, fin, sei, minke and killer whales. Notable recent articles include a paper on distribution and movements of North Pacific fin whales in Mammal Review, a paper on North Pacific killer whales in Marine Ecology Progress Series and a paper estimating adult survival rates of central North Pacific humpback whales in the Journal of Mammalogy
19 May 2010 - Kristin Wilkinson, stranding coordinator for NOAA Fisheries, NWR
Recent Marine Mammal Stranding events in Puget Sound
The Northwest Marine Mammal Stranding Network responded to five gray whale strandings and one live California sea lion case in a ten day timeframe in April 2010. Please join us for a presentation to learn more about these cases and necropsy findings. Also learn how to get involved in the network and how to become a first responder.
Kristin Wilkinson has been working for NOAA Fisheries for the past four years as the Marine Mammal Stranding Specialist. Kristin oversees all of the stranding networks in Washington and Oregon state and has a passion for educating others about marine mammals. Kristin studied marine biology in Townsville, QLD, Australia and graduated from the University of Hawaii where she worked for NOAA Fisheries and the Marine Turtle Response Program
21 April 2010 - Robin Lindsey and Leo "Buzz" Shaw
Pups on the Beach: Seal Sitters keep watch over urban seals
We are making a slight deviation from cetaceans to pinnipeds for our April Speaker Series event. Seal Sitters is an all-volunteer group dedicated to the protection of harbor seals in and around our urban Puget Sound waters.
Seal Sitters was formed by a concerned group of citizens in 2007 when an unusual number of seal pups began appearing on the busy beaches of West Seattle. The all-volunteer group not only protects the pups (and other marine mammals on the beach), but educates the public about their natural need to "haul out" and rest - oft times while moms are out fishing offshore. SS works closely with NOAA and WDFW in determining the health of our seal population by providing photo documentation for evaluation. Seal Sitters' photographer and education advisor will present slides and discuss the particular challenges and successes of our work, as well as discuss general biology of the various pinnipeds found in our waters.
Robin Lindsey, First Responder and Photographer. Robin Lindsey is a photographer committed to capturing the beauty and mystery of pinnipeds and other wildlife. Seal Sitters' NOAA contact and first responder to any seal "haulout" or stranding, her photos have been used to document the health of the harbor seal population, resulting in the rescue of a number of pups. Her photos of seals and pups have been published in a number of publications, including a Wildlife Conservation magazine article with Brenda Peterson, Spring Journal cover (Jungian psychology magazine), the Seattle Times, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and Discovery Magazine. She and Peterson have co-authored a children's book on seal pups, Pups on the Beach (Henry Holt Publishing), due out in 2010. She is the designer of Seal Sitters' website. See more of Robin's photography here.
Leo "Buzz" Shaw, Education Advisor and Volunteer Trainer. Buzz Shaw is a zoologist who worked for many years as Public Education Program Specialist for the Seattle Aquarium. Now retired, he continues to work part-time on Citizen Science and Beach Naturalist Programs for the Aquarium. Buzz is the author of numerous articles on natural history which have been published in various magazines and has given lectures throughout the Puget Sound area.
17 March 2010 - Robin Baird
Hawai'i's false killer whales: over-fished and under-appreciated
False killer whales in Hawaii are in trouble. There is a small isolated population that has declined substantially over the last 20 years, and NMFS is considering listing them under the Endangered Species Act. A "Take Reduction Team" was formed last month to try to reduce bycatch in the Hawaii longline fishery. Over the last 10 years research in Hawaiian waters has dramatically increased our knowledge of this fascinating species, known to cooperatively hunt and share prey.
Robin Baird, a Research Biologist with Cascadia Research Collective has been studying false killer whales in Hawaiian waters since 1999 and is a member of the Take Reduction Team trying to solve the bycatch issue.
17 February 2010 - Teresa Mongillo
Contaminated Whales: past, present, and future levels in the Southern Resident killer whales.
Teresa Mongillo will give a general outline of her Master's thesis, which deals with a modeling approach to estimate the accumulation of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), both persistent organic pollutants (POPs), in specific individuals of the Southern Resident killer whales (SRKWs). current accumulated levels were also projected into the future under various assumptions and scenarios. The respective influences of the life history traits that lead to the pattern of the predicted contaminant levels across demographic categories were also determined.
Detrimental biological effects from exposure to PCBs and PBDEs have the potential to hinder the recovery of the SRKWs. Ultimately, determination of exposure levels and potential resulting risks posed by these persistent organic pollutants in the SRKWs are essential for the effective protection of this endangered species.
Born and raised in Washington, Teresa Mongillo attended UW for both her Bachelors and Masters degrees. In Teresa's junior and senior years as an undergrad, she became interested in the Southern Residents, particularly their taxonomic status. This led to a senior project titled "Demography of the Southern Resident killer whales". For her Masters, Teresa received funding from NOAA/NWFSC and began estimating the accumulation of two separate pollutants in each individual Southern Resident killer whale.
Teresa traveled to South Africa to give a talk on her thesis, and to Quebec City where she gave a poster presentation and won best pre-doctoral poster, both at the biennial conferences of the Society of Marine Mammalogy. Teresa was also a 2008 ACS Puget Sound grant recipient. Teresa is currently interested in using acoustics to study behavior and feeding ecology of transient killer whales.
20 January 2010 - Kristin L. Laidre, Ph.D.
The ecology of narwhals in the Arctic
Kristin's talk will include an introduction on climate change in the
primary habitats of narwhals, and go into detail on their biology,
movements, foraging ecology and include some results from very recent
work we are doing to understand the impacts of sea ice loss and
global warming on the species.
Kristin is currently a research scientist at the Polar Science Center, Applied Physics Lab, University of Washington. She is partially supported by the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources in Nuuk, Greenland. Her primary research interests lie in spatial modeling of movement and spatially-explicit foraging ecology of top marine predators. She is interested in how environmental features and habitat variables manifest themselves as constraints on movement and behavior, and how these constraints differentially impact demographics of sub-populations or metapopulations of marine species. Her research is focused on exploring these relationships using satellite and archival telemetry, in combination with remotely-sensed satellite data and quantitative spatial models in a Geographic Information System (GIS). Her research also links spatial environmental fluctuation to bioenergetic models and food webs in the marine ecosystem. Much of my research is focused in the high Arctic, where both short food chains and very limited and specific production periods strongly shape the behavior of top predators.
No Meeting - Happy Holidays
18 November 2009 - Robert (Bob) Pitman
The Family that Preys Together: Cooperative Foraging Ecology of (B-type) Antarctic Killer Whales.
There have been relatively few reports of feeding or foraging among the three known ecotypes of killer whales (Orcinus orca) in Antarctic waters, including Type B (pack-ice killer whale - PIKW), a purported prey specialist on ice seals.
During 13-30 January 2009, we followed 3 separate groups of PIKW (4, 7 and 10 animals, respectively), for a total of 93.0 hrs off the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, and recorded observations on their prey and foraging habits.
Observed kills included 15 seals and the first confirmed kill of an Antarctic minke whale (Balaenoptera bonaerensis) by this ecotype. PIKW groups spread out when foraging in fields of loose pack-ice and spy-hopped around individual floes looking for resting seals. Nearly all of the seal kills (12/15) were taken by a cooperative wave-washing technique with from 2 to7 PIKW swimming abreast and creating a wave to break up larger floes and to wash individual seals off smaller floes; 3 additional free-swimming seals were taken in open water. We provide new details of wave-wash foraging behavior based on attacks on 22 individual seals where PIKW produced 122 individual waves (range: 1-26 waves per attack; median: 3). Among the 3 species of seals present, PIKW took Weddell seals (Leptonychotes weddellii) apparently exclusively (13/13 identified seal kills), despite the fact that they represented only 15% of seals present in a strip transect sample of 365 seals.
PIKW were able to distinguish among seal species and passed on every opportunity to take crabeaters (Lobodon carcinophaga; 82%) and leopard seals (Hydrurga leptonyx; 3%) encountered on ice floes. An analysis of seal remains found floating at the surface after a kill provided evidence of cooperative and fairly sophisticated post-mortem prey processing perhaps best termed 'butchering'.
Bob Pitman is a marine ecologist at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center
He has studied seabirds and cetaceans since 1976, and marine turtles and flyingfish since 1986. Bob's interests include biogeography, foraging ecology, evolutionary biology, and general ecology. Bob spends between 6 and 8 months each year in the field, mostly at sea in pelagic ecosystems, on research vessels of all kinds. These have taken him to the tropical Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic oceans, Antarctic waters, and the Bering Sea.
Bob Pitman is one of a few researchers who have actually observed nearly all species of cetaceans in the world.
As Bob puts it himself: "I may just have the best job in the world".
21 October 2009 - John Calambokidis
Tracking blue and humpback whales in the Eastern North Pacific: Insights into movements, abundance, and underwater behavior.
John Calambokidis is a Research Biologist and co-founder of Cascadia Research Collective, based in Olympia, WA. He has served as the Principal Investigator of more than 50 research studies on marine mammals, marine birds, and pollution. He has supervised a staff of up to 20 researchers. His recent projects include: coordinating a project to estimate the abundance of humpback whales in the entire North Pacific Ocean using photo-identification data, examining movements and estimating the abundance of blue whales in the North Pacific, studying residency patterns of gray whales in Washington waters, examining habitat preferences and abundance of harbor porpoise and evaluating trends in contaminant levels of harbor seals.
John has co-authored over 50 papers in scientific journals and two books: the award-winning Guide to Marine Mammals of Greater Puget Sound (Island Publishers, with R. Osborne and E.M. Dorsey) and Blue Whales (Voyageur Press, with G.H. Steiger).
John periodically teaches a Marine Mammal Biology course as an Adjunct Faculty Member of The Evergreen State College in Olympia.
16 September 2009 - Val Viers
Evesdropping on sounds in the Salish Sea: What's "that" sound? And, what did Cookie say to Oreo and what did mom reply?
Dr. Val Veirs will first give us an acoustic look into the underwater soundscape of our Southern Resident Killer Whales' critical habitat: orca vocalizations, ships, boats, sonars and seals.
Secondly, we will be eavesdropping on a conversation between Oreo (J-22) and Cookie (J-38). Using an acoustic array to localize underwater sounds, this conversation was recorded by Beam Reach off of South Beach and is likely the first documented call and response between identified individual orcas. What do the various calls that go back and forth mean? That is the listener's challenge.
Dr. Val Veirs received his Ph.D at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago in 1969. He is currently instructor for the Cornell University Summer Bioaccoustics Seminar at Friday Harbor laboratory, WA, and Beam Reach Sustainability School, Seattle. Dr. Veirs holds the title of Professor of Physics Emeritus of Colorado College, and President of the Board of Directors of the Whale Museum, Friday Harbor, WA