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Dispatch from Ireland: Using DNA to track Humpback Whales

DUBLIN—Dr. Scott Baker, a pioneer in the use of DNA to better understand the population structure, abundance, and genetic diversity of dolphins and whales, spoke recently at University College Dublin about new research that could help shape conservation measures for North Pacific humpback whales.

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Expedition Austral Islands: A Comprehensive Study of Whales and Dolphins in French Polynesia

MMI PhD student Renee Albertson is in the Austral Islands collecting data on whales and dolphins as part of the South Pacific Whale Research Consortium. The results of this project will contribute to long-term, ongoing genetic and demographic studies of residency patterns and social organization among whales and dolphins throughout French Polynesia. Follow Renee’s adventure through her bilingual blog.

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Sea Lion Webcam at Newport OR Pock Dock 1

A new webcam has been installed at Newport’s popular sea lion haul out, Port Dock 1. This camera is monitored by the Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network to check for injuries due to entanglements in fishery gear and marine debris. Sea lions periodically come ashore with plastic packing bands wrapped around their necks and fishing lures hanging from their mouths. A capture cage is sometimes deployed at this site to treat entangled sea lions.

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The Loneliest Whale in the World?

The MMI's Bruce Mate will be leading a scientific team on a search for the "52-Hz whale" next fall. The expedition is planned as part of a documentary about the elusive whale and will involve tagging whales in the eastern North Pacific. Because it is possible to hear this distinctive whale over large distances, Dr. Mate's team will rely on the leadership of NOAA's Bob Dziak and the Pacific Marine Environmental Lab's access to fixed hydrophones in the North Pacific to guide the search, find the whale, and tag some of its cohorts.

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Researchers from OSU Study Whales Affected by DeepWater Horizon Spill

A team of marine mammal researchers from Newport, Oregon is headed to the Gulf of Mexico next week to tag Sperm Whales near the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010. They'll find out how the whales are doing 3 years later. Bruce Mate is Director of the Marine Mammal Institute at the Hatfield Marine Science Center. He says his team has been going to the Gulf region since before the oil spill.

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Scott Baker visits South Africa to lecture on conservation genetics

Professor Scott Baker, Associate Director of the Marine Mammal Institute, was in South Africa this month (May 2013) as a contributing lecturer at a workshop on Advances in Conservation Genetics. The workshop was sponsored by the American Genetic Association and hosted by University of Pretoria and the Southern African Wildlife College.

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New study questions the role of kinship in mass strandings of pilot whales

Scott Baker, associate director of the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University, said genetic identification showed that, in many cases, the mothers of calves were missing entirely from groups of whales that died in the stranding. This separation of mothers and calves suggests that strong kinship bonds are being disrupted prior to the actual stranding – potentially playing a role in causing the event.

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Genetic study pursues elusive goal: How many humpbacks existed before whaling?

Scott Baker, Associate Director of Oregon State University's Marine Mammal Institute and a co-author said: "These genetic estimates greatly improve our understanding of the genetic diversity of humpback whales, something we need to understand the impact of past hunting and to manage whales in the uncertain future."

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Want to help others spot whales? This training is just for you.

One of the highlights of the two training sessions they attended in Newport was the presentations by Dr. Bruce Mate, director of the Oregon State University Marine Mammal Institute, Flugum said.“That’s one of the big perks of being a volunteer is being in on one of his sessions,” she said. “Bruce Mate is a world-renowned gray whale researcher, and he’s an individual that gets so excited about what he’s talking about, and at times, he’s in tears.”

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A First Look at a Never-Before Seen Whale

Scott Baker, a marine biologist at Oregon State University and a co-author of the paper who has studied whales and dolphins for 30 years, saw his first live, open-ocean beaked whale just last month, in Samoa. The sighting lasted about 4 seconds before the animal dove — too brief to tell if it was a spade-toothed. “Their environment is very remote,” he says. “It’s deep water, and they’re submerged for maybe 96% of their lives.”

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