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.
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.
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.
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."
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.”
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.”
After five hours on a 140-ton C-17 military aircraft that had taken off from Christchurch, New Zealand, Mee-ya Monnin, peering through one of the plane’s small circular windows, saw white ice covering the ocean. The members of her research team and military men on the plane with Monnin chuckled as she squealed and jumped up and down in her seat.
Read more about Monnin’s first season in Antarctica and follow her this fall as she returns at blogs.oregonstate.edu/hailingfrozenthoughts/.
Global connections across the Pacific Ocean in science, economics and policies — and how these things affect Oregon's ocean — are the focus of the eighth annual Heceta Head Coastal Conference, Oct. 26–27 at the Florence Events Center. Scientists, policy-makers and community leaders — including Oregon first lady Cylvia Hayes and Oregon State University marine mammal specialist Bruce Mate — will address the theme “Oregon's Oceans: Bringing the High Seas Home” during the two-day conference, which is open to the public.
Dr. Scott Baker, associate director of the Marine Mammal Institute, writes from Samoa, where he studies the formation of local communities among dolphins and their genetic isolation from one another. His work is being featured in the "Scientist at Work: Notes from the Field" blog of the New York Times.
For the past several weeks, gray whales that spent the spring breeding or calving in the waters off Mexico have been arriving in the Pacific Northwest to feed for the summer and fall, including areas along the Oregon coast. But gray whales aren’t the only species of whale that can be seen off Oregon, according to experts at Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute.