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Congratulations to MMI's new graduates

Three of MMI’s graduate students have successfully defended their theses and have been awarded their advanced degrees:  In April 2014, Rebecca Hamner, PhD (conservation genetics and monitoring of New Zealand Maui's and Hector's dolphins), and in September 2014, both Alana Alexander, PhD (The influence of social structure and molecular evolution on genetic diversity in the sperm whale), and Sophie Pierszalowski, MSc (the influence of local fidelity and recruitment on population dynamics and specialized foraging of humpback whales in Glacier Bay and Icy Strait, Alaska). All three studied with Dr. Scott Baker in his Cetacean Conservation and Genomics Laboratory.

Scientists spot large contingent of southern right whales

Scientists on a rugged mid-winter trip to the remote sub-Antarctic islands have confirmed a large contingent of endangered southern right whales are spending the colder months near Campbell Island. Previous work on this species had focused on the animals at Auckland Island, with some minimal work done at the more remote Campbell Island almost 20 years ago. Lead investigator Dr Leigh Torres, said the news was "exciting, exhilarating and a relief to hear."

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Study will look at seal behavior

WALDPORT — Shea Steingass, a Ph.D. student at Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute, was part of a research team involved in giving area harbor seals new head decorations last week. [Read the whole story in the Newport News-Times here.]

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Minke whales' 'extreme' feeding habits observed for first time

A new paper about Antarctic minke whales by MMI's Ari Friedlaender was published this week in the Journal of Experimental Biology. An article about the research in Science News highlights that this is the first time anyone has been able to tag the elusive whales, and that tagging is a nonlethal research method which is allowing scientists to uncover the minkes’ unique feeding behavior under the sea ice.

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Leaping into new territory: Palmer LTER adds whales to marine ecosystem study of Antarctic Peninsula

"The opportunity was there to get up to speed with whales and how they function as part of the Antarctic ecosystem around the peninsula," explained Ari Friedlaender, an associate professor at Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute. Friedlaender is the newest co-PI on the Palmer LTER, leading the study of humpback whales in the Antarctic.

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PhD student Dori Dick presents geneGIS at Esri User Conference

OSU PhD student Dori Dick’s presentation last week (July 16, 2014) to the Esri User Conference in San Diego was well received. Dori introduced geneGIS, a suite of computational tools for analyzing the spatial distribution and genetic relatedness of whales and dolphins. The development of the geneGIS toolbox for ArcGIS was funded by an Office of Naval Research grant to MMI associate director, Scott Baker, and Esri chief scientist, Dawn Wright. A description of the tools has now been published in the journal Transactions in GIS.

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15-year analysis of blue whale range off California finds conflict with shipping lanes

A new paper by Ladd Irvine and other MMI researchers finds that the favored feeding areas of endangered blue whales along the US West Coast are crossed by heavily used shipping lanes. The paper, which was published today in PLoS ONE, notes that moving the shipping lanes off Los Angeles and San Francisco slightly could significantly decrease the probability of ships striking the whales. The analysis is the most comprehensive study of blue whales' movements ever conducted.

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Experts Concerned by Japan's Talk of Scientific Whaling

Scott Baker, associate director of Oregon State University's Marine Mammal Institute, agreed. "The often disreputable behavior of the whaling industry in the past, and some whaling nations today, does not inspire much confidence in a good faith return to commercial whaling," he said.

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Where the world's oceans are the laboratory

Bruce Mate tagged his first whale 35 years ago using a primitive dart emitting a VHF signal that could be heard a whopping 5 miles away—if the weather wasn’t stormy that day. Fellow scientists thought he was a bit touched in the head for thinking a tag attached to a migrating whale would survive the saltwater pounding.

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Humpback whale populations more distinct than previously thought

A new genetic study concludes that humpback whales in three different ocean basins are distinct from one another and should be considered separate subspecies. The new study builds on previous research led by MMI’s Dr. Scott Baker and published in December 2013, which identified five distinct populations of humpback whales in the North Pacific Ocean.

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