On Summer Break

2012-2013 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 2013 Speaker

20 June 2013 - Erin Ashe, University of St. Andrews and Oceans Initiatives

Discovering dolphins: Pacific white-sided dolphins in the Pacific Northwest Abstract

Are Pacific white-sided dolphins new visitors to the Salish Sea? How many dolphins are there? Pacific white-sided dolphins are considered an oceanic dolphin, but are reliability found in the inshore waters of the Salish Sea and the Broughton Archipelago, British Columbia. For my PhD at the University of St Andrews, I am estimating abundance and survival of Pacific white-sided dolphins using photo-identification data that draws from my own catalogue and from Alexandra Morton's 20-year catalogue. photo of a Pacific white-sided dolphin, (c) Erin Ashe In addition, my PhD work explores the potential impact of human activities (e.g., bycatch) and natural predation pressure (i.e., by mammal-eating killer whales) on the survival and abundance of Pacific white-sided dolphins. My aim is to assess the current conservation status of this population.

Erin Ashe is a PhD student at the University of St Andrews, Scotland and co-founder of the research non-profit, Oceans Initiative. Erin's PhD is focused on Pacific white-sided dolphin ecology in the Pacific Northwest. A native of Seattle, she has been researching Pacific white-sided dolphins in the Broughton Archipelago since 2007, using photo-identification to estimate abundance, survival, and assess their conservation status. Erin is also exploring Pacific white-sided dolphin acoustics to gain insight into population structure. Her goal is to produce information that will advance our knowledge on this fascinating species and provide insight into population health and conservation status. Erin's previous research has focused on southern resident killer whales, Patagonian blue whales and northern fur seals.

15 May 2013 - Chris Basset, UW Mechanical Engineering / Applied Physics Lab

Sound in the Sound: To What Degree Are Underwater Noise Levels Driven by Human Activity? Abstract

Sound is not only important to marine mammals; it also plays an important role many scientific studies. This talk will begin by discussing the physics of sound in the ocean and highlighting just some of the ways scientists use sound to study the ocean. I will then highlight some data and results from studies carried out in Admiralty Inlet, Puget Sound. In particular, I will focus on two studies. The first is a one-year long study of noise from vessel traffic, which finds that maritime traffic is the most important noise source in Puget Sound. Second, I will highlight a study focusing on the potential acoustic impacts of a proposed tidal energy site in Admiralty Inlet.

Chris graduated from the University of Minnesota 2007 (Mechanical Engineering). Following a period as a design engineer he returned to graduate school at UW in 2008. Now a PhD candidate, Chris' work relates to underwater ambient noise in Puget Sound. Topics he has considered in his work include noise from maritime traffic (shipping and ferries) and sediment as well as the environmental impacts of a proposed tidal energy project in Puget Sound.

sound in the sound

17 April 2013 - Uko Gorter, Natural History Illustrator; and Joe Olson, Cetacean Research Technology

Sound and Cetaceans Abstract

ACS/PS president Uko Gorter and past ACS/PS president Joe Olson will present a double-feature on Sound and Cetaceans.

Uko Gorter, natural history illustration, will present a talk on the mechanics (anatomy) of sound production.

Joe Olson, physicist and owner of Cetacean Research Technology will talk about the basics of cetacean acoustics and will let us listen to sound clips of different cetaceans and their surrounding soundscape.

20 March 2013 - Dr. Joe Gaydos, SeaDoc Society

Bears to Barnacles, Incredible Animals of the Salish Sea Abstract

Bears to Barnacles: Incredible Animals of the Salish Sea

The largest octopus. The biggest barnacle. The most enormous anemone. Our backyard is home to some of the most extraordinary creatures on the planet. The Salish Sea's unique combination of geology and hydrology makes it one of the most biologically diverse and productive inland seas.

Come hear about some of the biggest, longest lived and most unusual animals in the Salish Sea when Joe Gaydos, wildlife veterinarian and chief scientist of the SeaDoc Society, speaks on the web of life in our coastal ecosystem. In this entertaining presentation discover the unexpected connections between land and sea that Joe Gaydos and collaborators uncovered in their recent landmark compilation of all the birds and mammals of the Salish Sea.

Joe Gaydos is chief scientist for the SeaDoc Society (www.seadocsociety.org). He serves as chair of the science panel of the Puget Sound Partnership, the Washington State agency charged with restoring Puget Sound.

20 February 2013 - Peggy Foreman, NOAA

Establishing a Sense of Place: NOAA Fisheries education and outreach efforts in the NWR Abstract

NOAA's education mission is "To advance environmental literacy and promote a diverse workforce in ocean, coastal, Great Lakes, weather, and climate sciences, encourage stewardship and increasing informed decision making for the nation."

Casey Ralston, Peggy Foreman, Christine Froschl, and Lynne Barre introduce NOAA's new life size inflatable killer whale, J26, Mike.

Here in the Pacific Northwest we strive to link how science informs management decisions and conservation efforts on a local level. Our challenge is to help connect students, schools, and communities to their local watershed establishing a strong sense of place. If we can introduce the recovery of protected species and emphasize how humans are inextricably connected to their habitat, we hope to inspire actions that will ultimately lead to stewardship of the nation's living marine resources like the Salish Sea and the world ocean that surrounds us.

We are proud that our efforts include a diverse working relationship with other federal partners, state agencies, Native American tribes, and stakeholders. Every time we reach out to our schools and communities we try to understand what they already know, what academic standards are they working on or what monitoring or research is taking place around them and how we can support their efforts. We then try to integrate the entities that could support a meaningful educational experience either in the classroom, at the closest river or stream, or at a local science institution close by. By utilizing partners, encouraging field experiences, and emphasizing science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and social studies (S.T.E.M.Ss) we hope to spark that interest that snowballs into life-long learning and opportunities that allow our communities to take pride in where they live, and participate in actions that protect species that live in their backyard.

For the last five years, Peggy has worked half-time to establish resources for her colleagues to go into schools or host community events. She has developed a variety of K-12 units and stand-alone activities focused on Salmon Issues, Killer Whale Recovery, Groundfish such as halibut or rockfish, stranding events and much, much more. She has helped facilitate teacher workshops and works with partner agencies to strengthen environmental literacy and supplement existing curricula.

Peggy will walk through a variety of resources available on the NEW and IMPROVED nwr.noaa.gov website and elaborate on ways to help improve our efforts. Peggy will highlight three projects that have expanded her efforts to the outer coast of Washington and down to Le Grande, Oregon in 2012. One involved high school students, video cameras, and a field trip to Lake Ozette to see spawning sockeye salmon. Another project relied on partners to help strengthen and grow our marine mammal resources to improve our education efforts and the third project was working with the educational team from the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla's Natural Resource Division on a salmon and steelhead unit focused on First Foods.

While at NOAA, Peggy Foreman taught for two years for a running start program out of Everett Community College and received a Master's of Science in Biology for Teachers at the University of Washington in 2011. She took her knowledge of killer whale acoustics from a course with Beam Reach and applied it to her master's work where she studied "Shipping noise and vocal compensation by Southern Resident killer whales in Haro Strait". Peggy's teaching career totals 10 years and spans elementary, middle school, and high school aged students thanks to her Masters in the Art of Teaching from the University of Puget Sound. Informally, she also spent 15 whale seasons as a naturalist in the San Juan Islands, SE Alaska, and Hawaii which blossomed when she was an undergraduate at WWU where she received her B.S. in Marine Biology.

  • An inflatable J26, Mike
    Casey Ralston, Peggy Foreman, Christine Froschl, and Lynne Barre introduce NOAA's new life size inflatable killer whale, J26, Mike.

16 January 2013 - Sally Mizroch

Searching for whales in the vast North Pacific: 60 days at sea on a Japanese whale research ship Abstract

map showing areas covered by the cruises in different years

In 2010, a new series of whale research cruises was launched in the eastern North Pacific. The cruises are jointly sponsored by the International Whaling Commission and Japan with collaboration of scientists from the US. The surveys use line transect, photo-ID and biopsy techniques to determine whale distribution and abundance in very large areas of the eastern North Pacific (south of the Alaska coast all the way south to 40� N). A major goal of the cruises is to "provide baseline information on distribution and abundance for a poorly known area for several large whale species/populations, including those that were known to have been depleted [by whaling] in the past, but whose status is unclear". Sally Mizroch participated in the 2011 and 2012 cruises and coordinated and curated all the photo-identification and biopsy data. Photo-ID catalogs were produced for blue whales (9 cataloged in 2011, 4 cataloged in 2012), killer whales (18 cataloged in 2011 and 47 cataloged in 2012), humpback whales (48 cataloged in 2011 and 26 cataloged in 2012), and sei whales (yes, sei whales: 27 cataloged in 2011 and 51 cataloged in 2012). In 2012, one right whale was seen and photo-identified in an area known to have been the site of illegal Soviet whaling for right slide showing location and fluke for photo idwhales in the 1960s and early 1970s, east of Kodiak in the Gulf of Alaska. Each year, the photo-ID catalogs have been shared with collaborating whale researchers throughout the North Pacific. Long-term matches have already been found for humpback whales and killer whales, and matching is still in progress.

Sally Mizroch has worked at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center for her entire scientific career. She began studying Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska groundfish in the Center's Resource Ecology and Fisheries Management Division in 1977, and in 1979 she transferred to NMML to study vital rates of Antarctic baleen whales, which were still being hunted commercially at the time.map and fluke for photo id She was a member of the U.S. delegation to the International Whaling Commission's Scientific Committee from 1980 to 1988. Some of her analyses as a young scientist provided direct scientific support for the whaling moratorium that was initiated in 1986. In 1986, she developed the humpback whale matching system and started the centralized North Pacific humpback whale flukes photo database. Sally received a B.A. in environmental studies/biology at Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio in 1975. She received her M.S. in fisheries from the University of Washington in 1983 under the supervision of Professor Doug Chapman. She has completed advanced classes in statistical sampling and analysis at both the University of Washington and at Colorado State University.

  • sample photo ID from catalog
    Illustration from Sally Mizroch's talk about 60 days at sea on board a Japanese whale research ship.
  • sample photo ID from catalog
    Illustration from Sally Mizroch's talk about 60 days at sea on board a Japanese whale research ship.
  • Map showing survey route
    Illustration from Sally Mizroch's talk about 60 days at sea on board a Japanese whale research ship.

28 November 2012 - Dr. Alex Zerbini, Cascadia Research Collective, NMML/AFSC

History of Exploitation and Conservation Status of Humpback Whales from East and West South America Abstract

Humpback whales were caught by open-boat whalers since at least the 19th Century. In the Southern Hemisphere, this type of whaling focused on tropical waters and catches of this species were of relatively small scale. It wasn't until the introduction of modern whaling techniques during the 20th Century that whaling moved into highly productive Antarctic waters, where large humpback whale catches were made. The majority of the 220,000 whales taken south of the Equator since the early 1900s were killed in high latitudes of the Southern Oceans. Modern whaling operations in the Southern Hemisphere initiated at the feeding grounds around the Antarctic Peninsula and the 'Falkland Dependencies' (which included the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands), possibly because these regions provided appropriate conditions to install whaling stations and to harbor whaling vessels. Whales feeding in these regions are connected to wintering (breeding) grounds in the Eastern Pacific (EP – west coast of South America from Peru to Costa Rica) and the western south Atlantic (WSA – coast of Brazil). In total, nearly 50,000 whales from these populations were killed. Humpback whales were protected from whaling in the mid 1960s, but until recently the conservation of these populations was poorly known.

In this talk, I will present the methods and results of assessments (conducted by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) of the conservation status of humpback whales of the Eastern Pacific (ESP) and west Coast of South American (WSA). These assessments integrated information from stock structure, estimates of abundance and trends in abundance, and modern whaling catches into population dynamic models to estimate the size of the stocks relative to their pre-exploitation abundance.

Population trajectories indicate that ESP and WSA humpback whale populations were severely reduced after a period of intense exploitation before the 1920s and sustained relatively small catches up to the late 1960s. Maximum depletion occurred in the late 1950s (WSA) and early 1960s (ESP), when the size of both populations corresponded to less than 4% of their pre-exploitation sizes. Populations grew at nearly 8%/year after protection was afforded and by the mid 2000s the WSA and ESP stocks had recovered to, respectively, nearly 30% and 65% of their pre-modern whaling abundance. Despite apparent recovery in the past three decades, these humpback whale populations require continued research and conservation efforts due to various sources of human-related mortality.

Alex Zerbini was born and raised in Brazil, where he received a BS degree in Biological Oceanography and a Masters in Zoology. He moved to the Pacific Northwest in 1999 to pursue a Ph.D. degree in Fishery and Aquatic Sciences at the University of Washington, from which he graduated in 2006. Alex worked as post-doctoral fellow at the National Marine Mammal Laboratory of the Alaska Fisheries Science Center (NMML/AFSC) and he currently holds a joint position as a research associate with Cascadia Research Collective and NMML/AFSC. His research interests include population ecology, population assessment, and cetacean conservation and he has published over 50 scientific papers on these topics. Alex is a member of the IWC Scientific Committee and the IUCN Cetacean Specialist Group. He chaired the IWC Working Group to Review Sanctuaries and Sanctuary Proposals and the Sub-Committee on Southern Hemisphere whales. He is also a member of the editorial board of the scientific journals Biology Letters and the Latin American Journal of Aquatic Mammals, and he has acted as an invited editor with the Journal of Cetacean Research and Management and Marine Mammal Science.

17 October 2012 - Candice Emmons, NWFSC

Using suction-cup DTAGS to study acoustics and behavior of Southern Resident killer whales Abstract

Researchers at the NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center, Cascadia Research Collective and UC Davis, are conducting a study using digital acoustic recording tags (DTAGs) to examine sound exposure, sound use, and behavior of Southern Resident killer whales. Research objectives, experimental approach, and preliminary results of this study which aims to address key research questions related to risk factors that are potentially affecting the recovery of Southern Residents will be presented.

Candice Emmons joined the Northwest Fisheries Science Center in 2006. She earned a B.S. in Biological Sciences with an emphasis in the Marine Sciences from California State University Northridge and a Master's degree in Marine Affairs from the University of Washington. Candice currently works with the Marine Mammal Program on a variety of projects including winter habitat use and foraging ecology of Southern Resident killer whales.

19 September 2012 - Stephanie A. Norman, NMFS, CPSMMSN, Marine-Med

Application of Epidemiological Tools to the Conservation of an Endangered Species: the Plight of Cook Inlet, Alaska Belugas (Delphinapterus leucas) Abstract

Cook Inlet, Alaska belugas (CIB) (Delphinapterus leucas) are a genetically and geographically isolated wild stock, residing in the upper Inlet's waters year-round. This small, declining population was listed as endangered in 2008. Relatively little research has been conducted on diseases and environmental threats to this stock that may play a role in their decline and long-term viability. Impacts of disease, anthropogenic and environmental factors on population dynamics have not been thoroughly characterized. Four studies were conducted to help evaluate CIB health and survival threats:

  1. characterization of hematology and serum chemistry values in Bristol Bay belugas (BBB), a healthy growing population, for comparison to CIB,
  2. characterization of hematology and serum chemistry variation patterns from captive belugas over 22 years, to provide methods applicable to wild populations such as CIB,
  3. development of a model using anthropogenic and environmental factors to demonstrate CIB population trajectories based on survival and fecundity rates in a simulated population, and
  4. evaluation of fecal pathogens and contributing fecal host sources to surface waters and sediment in areas of upper CI that overlap critical beluga habitat.

Stephanie Norman is a wildlife epidemiologist and veterinarian in the Seattle, Washington area. She received her DVM from Texas A&M University, a Master of Science in epidemiology from the University of Washington, Seattle, and a PhD in wildlife epidemiology from the University of California, Davis. Since 2000, she has been involved in the investigation of diseases in marine mammals for various organizations and agencies. An admirer of all ocean life, her research and epidemiologic work has expanded to cover marine life of all sizes, from corals to top level predators. Her areas of interest include the impact of climate change on marine wildlife and their diseases, disease surveillance and outbreak investigations, conservation of marine species, ecosystem health, Italian cuisine, and her two kids!

May 2012 Speaker

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