June 15, 2022

Lynne Barre – NOAA Fisheries, West Coast Regional Office

Wed., June 15, 2022
Phinney Neighborhood
7:30 pm
doors open at 7

Southern Resident Killer Whales: An Update on NOAA's Species in the Spotlight ... more


2010-2011 Speaker Series

The Puget Sound Chapter of the American Cetacean Society would like to sincerely thank the following people for giving a presentation at one of our monthly Speaker Series meetings.

Click on any of the Abstract links for a summary and a brief bio about the talk Many abstracts also contain additional related resources.

Sept 2011 Speaker

15 June 2011 - Erin Falcone and Greg Schorr, Cascadia Research

Running with a Tough Crowd: Cuvier's Beaked Whales and Fin Whales in Offshore Naval Training Areas ... Abstract

The Southern California Bight is home to one of the largest military training range complexes in the world (“SOCAL”), including nine instrumented areas and thirteen designated operations area throughout its coastal, near shore, and offshore reaches. This region, which extends from Point Conception south to Northern Baja California and up to 100nm off the mainland coast, also encompasses a variety of marine habitats, including offshore banks, islands, and deep basins which in turn support a broad diversity of marine mammal species, several of which are endangered or considered sensitive to anthropogenic impacts. The Southern California Offshore Range (SCORE), centered on San Clemente Island, is a focal point within SOCAL. It includes an array of nearly 150 bottom-mounted hydrophones called SOAR which is often used for anti-submarine warfare training involving 53c mid-frequency active sonar- the type that has been associated with mass strandings of beaked whales in other parts of the world.

We began conducting collaborative surveys at SOAR in 2006. We joined forces with other scientists from the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Naval Postgraduate School, and Scripps Institution of Oceanography to address a significant lack of data concerning the distribution, habitat use, and behavior of cetaceans in the region. We knew that fin whales occasionally formed dense aggregations in this remote area, but were very surprised to discover a much higher density of Cuvier's beaked whales than had previously been described anywhere along the US West Coast. Thus the project began to focus specifically on these two species, both of which have presented significant research challenges historically and have specific sensitivities to many of the activities that occur regularly on the range (ship strikes in the case of fin whales, sonar in the case of beaked whales).

This presentation will summarize our work to date in Southern California as we attempt to unravel the mysteries of these two enigmatic species. We will summarize what we have learned through visual surveys, photo-identification, and satellite telemetry, and how we hope this new information can be used to make better informed management decisions for these populations and others that exist in areas of frequent military activity.

Erin Falcone and Greg Schorr lead Cascadia's marine mammal studies at SCORE. They began working with Cascadia in 2003 and 2004, respectively, and throughout that time have worked on a variety of cetacean studies at points from the Aleutian Islands to Australia, and with everything from porpoises to blue whales. Much of their field work in the coming year will be small vessel based surveys along the coasts of California and Washington.

18 May 2011 - Frances Robertson

The bowhead whale in the age of oil: a brief review of research past and present ... Abstract

The Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort population of bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) was heavily exploited by commercial whaling in the mid‑ to late 19th Century. It is listed as endangered under the US Endangered Species Act and as a species ‘of special concern’ in Canada (COSEWIC 2005). Since the late 1970s this recovering population has been contending with anthropogenic activities related to oil and gas exploration.

The first studies to investigate the impacts of these industry activities on bowhead whales were initiated in the early 1980s. These studies consisted of dedicated behavioural response studies and distribution surveys. Results suggested that bowhead whales exposed to industry activities exhibited responses ranging from localized displacement and subtle changes to their surface-respiration-dive (SRD) behaviors to wider avoidance of industry activities. The SRD behavior of cetaceans provides a means to quantify changes in behavior and have been used as a method to characterize activity states. Quantitative assessments of SRD patterns are also an important method of assessing the affects of industrial activities.

My research involves the analysis of over 20 years of bowhead behavior data, collected with and without the presence of industry activities and I am using these data to explore the potential effects of oil and gas exploration on bowhead whale behaviour. In this talk I will introduce the key issues surrounding the bowhead whale and industry in the western Arctic; I will go on to briefly summarize the past research and will share my preliminary results and what their implications may be.

Frances Robertson is a PhD candidate in the Marine Mammal Research Unit at the University of British Columbia. She has been involved in a variety of cetacean research projects here in the Pacific Northwest and in Scotland. Most of Frances’ work has centered on the impacts of human activities on cetaceans. Since 2006 Frances has specialized in carrying out assessments and monitoring of oil and gas industry activities on marine mammals. This work has involved vessel-based and aerial-based surveys for marine mammals, mainly associated with monitoring and mitigation of the effects of seismic surveys on marine mammals and (where they occur) sea turtles. Frances’ experiences with industry have widened her research interests and have led her to focus her efforts on investigating the impacts of seismic survey activity on bowhead behaviour and distribution in the Alaskan Arctic. Frances is also a committee member for the recently launched Marine Mammal Observers Association and is the Student Representative for the NW Student Chapter of the Society of Marine Mammalogy.

20 April 2011 - Sophie Pierszalowski

Investigating the usability of DNA from sloughed skin for individual identification and kinship analysis in humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) ... Abstract

Obtaining genetic samples from cetaceans can be logistically challenging. Various methods of DNA collection for cetaceans have been utilized in the past including biopsy darting (invasive, strict permit regulations), fecal sampling (difficult to locate, reduced quality DNA) and sloughed skin collection. In this study, we demonstrate that sloughed skin collection provides a non-invasive, low-cost means of acquiring high quality DNA for individual identification of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae). Using a small subset of a large (> 1,500 samples) long-term sloughed skin dataset, we compared genotypes from multiple samples of 11 known individuals (confirmed from field observations and photo-ID) that had been seen within and/or across field seasons. For all cases in which we obtained more than one skin sample from a whale identified in the field as the same individual, we confirmed that the genotypes were identical. We used a panel of 14 microsatellite markers and M13 universal primer labels to compare genotypes of samples collected from five mothers and their calves and demonstrated that, in all confirmable cases, known mothers shared one-half of their genotype with their observed calves. In addition, 129 males and calves were run using COLONY to investigate kinship and full/half sibling relationships. M13 universal primer labels enabled us to determine genotypes at a fraction of the price required of fluorescent-labeled dye primers. Careful analysis of genotypic data from sloughed skin allows us to address questions about humpback whale social dynamics, reproductive success, ecology and life history. In the future, these techniques can be applied to the larger humpback whale dataset and to other cetacean species where sloughed skin can be collected.

Sophie Pierszalowski graduated from the University of Washington in the spring of 2010 with a B.S. in both Aquatic and Fisheries Science and General Biology. After completing her senior thesis in collaboration with NOAA's National Marine Mammal Laboratory, she was hired to expand on the project; investigating the usability of humpback whale sloughed skin for genetic analyses. She hopes that this study will encourage the use of noninvasive data collection by demonstrating the value of this method. Sophie recently received an ACS/PS student grant to present her findings at the 11th International ACS conference this past November. Prior to her employment at NMML, Sophie worked as a student intern at the NWFSC conducting a collaborative research project involving the role of activity states and gender on swimming and diving parameters of Southern Resident killer whales. Both positions have inspired her to continue cetacean-related studies and she plans on applying to a Master's program next fall.

16 March 2011 - Cheryl McCormick Ph.D. Executive Director of the American Cetacean Society

IWC: Whales in a Sea of Trouble ... Abstract

Cheryl McCormick

Cheryl McCormick will give an overview of the history of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and current difficulties associated with fully implementing the international moratorium on commercial whaling. Cheryl will also discuss recent controversies that have stalemated and polarized the organization, highlight the 2010 meeting of the IWC held in Agadir, Morocco, and give us a preview of her opinion on what we can expect from the 2011 and 2012 meetings.

Cheryl is a plant ecologist with over 15 years of experience working in all aspects of invasive species biology in upstate New York, Georgia, Florida, the Greater Caribbean Basin and California. She obtained a B.A. in Environmental Science with minors in Biology and Chemistry from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Plattsburgh, her M.A. in Geography/GIS, and a Ph.D. in Ecology from the Institute of Ecology at The University of Georgia (UGA).

Currently, Cheryl McCormick is the Executive Director for the American Cetacean Society; where she is responsible for developing education programs, coordinating with researchers in grant-making, and facilitating conservation programs aimed at protecting whales, dolphins, porpoises, and the habitats upon which they depend. In this capacity, she is involved in international policies governing commercial whaling, regional maritime policy development to reduce whales/vessel interactions within shipping lanes, and working with national and international NGOs to address cetacean welfare, and the interaction between anthropogenic influences and environmental dynamics on cetacean conservation and population viability. Her personal interests include community volunteering, distance running, and playing chess.

16 February 2011 - Sue Moore

Marine Mammals and Climate Change: Whales facing climate change in the Pacific Arctic. ... Abstract

We are in a period of rapid directional change in the Earth's environment and nowhere is this more evident than in the Pacific Arctic region, where sea ice loss has become an iconic symbol of climate change.

Sue Moore, Ph.D. is a biological oceanographer with 30 years research experience focuses on the ecology, bioacoustics and natural history of whales and dolphins. Sue is an affiliated professor at the University of Washington in the Department of Biology and the School of Marine Sciences. She currently serves NOAA in the Marine Ecosystems Division of the Office of Science and Technology. Sue is Chair of the Standing Working Group on Environmental Concerns of the international Whaling Commission (IWC).

19 January 2011 - Brad Hanson, NOAA Fisheries

The not-so-secret lives of cetaceans in the Pacific Ocean: Using dorsal fin-mounted satellite tags to uncover their movements and habitat use patterns. ... Abstract

Dr. Brad Hanson will give a presentation on the development of a remotely deployed satellite tag that is attached with small darts to the dorsal fin of cetaceans. Examples of some of the new insights gained from the application of this technology will be presented for several species in Hawaii and on the U.S. west coast.

Brad Hanson is a wildlife biologist at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle. Prior to moving to the NWFSC in 2003 he worked as a wildlife biologist at the National Marine Mammal Laboratory on a variety of projects. Brad received a Ph.D. from the University of Washington where he worked on the development of improved tag attachment systems for small cetaceans. He also holds an M.S. in Fisheries from the University of Washington and a B.A. in Zoology, also from the University of Washington. Brad is currently studying foraging and habitat use of Southern Resident killer whales and health assessment of harbor and Dall's porpoises.

17 November 2010 - Dr. Stephen Raverty

Killer whale diseases ... Abstract

Wildlife diseases can devastate populations and impact human health. Some pathogens have decimated cetacean populations around the world and have the potential to impact the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale population. Identifying and preventing these diseases, however, can be tricky as very little is known about diseases of killer whales. Joe Gaydos will take you on a decade-long journey to learn more about the diseases of these top predators and how what they are findings could prevent killer whale recovery.

20 October 2010 - Alice Cascorbi

Sustainable Seafood, beneficial to humans and whales ... October

Have you ever wondered about the seafood on your plate -where it comes from, how it is caught, how it impacts the environment? Alice Cascorbi was the founding researcher with the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program. She'll give an overview of how fishing (and fish-farming) practices affect marine environments, introduce the idea of sustainable seafood, and describe the work of Seafood Watch and other NGOs which seek to inform consumers as to how to make their seafood purchases more eco-friendly.

Alice Cascorbi is a biologist and science writer. Before moving to Portland, Oregon in 2004 and going freelance, she worked for five years at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, writing about conservation for their website and researching sustainable seafood for their Seafood Watch Program. She is finishing a M.S. in Conservation Biology and spent a summer in cooking school after college. Ecology and cooking have been two of her chief interests throughout life. When she is not delving into the science behind the fish on our plates, she enjoys mushroom hunting and organic gardening.

15 September 2010 - Lynne Barre, Marine Mammal Specialist, and Elizabeth Babcock, Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Coordinator

Southern Resident killer whale and salmon recovery in Puget Sound ... Abstract

Lynne Barre, Marine Mammal Specialist, and Elizabeth Babcock, Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Coordinator, will provide information on recovery efforts for killer whales and salmon in Puget Sound. They will describe NOAA Fisheries' process for developing recovery plans and implementing recovery programs for these interconnected species.

June 2010 Speaker

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