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Research Projects

Foraging ecology of humpback whales in relation to krill catches: Antarctic Peninsula

As recipients of the first Antarctic Wildlife Research Fund (AWR) research grants, Dr. Ari S. Friedlaender (Oregon State University) and Dr. David W. Johnston (Duke University) will conduct a long-term ecological study on the foraging behavior of humpback whales around the Antarctic Peninsula, focusing on how critical foraging areas relate to historic catches of krill in the region.

Long-Term Ecological Research, Antarctic Peninsula

The Palmer Long Term Ecological Research (PAL) program seeks to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the Antarctic seasonal sea-ice-influenced ecosystem ― the climate, plants, microbes, animals, biogeochemical processes, ocean, and sea ice south of the Antarctic Polar Front (northernmost extent of ice-influenced water). Our research focus is to understand the foraging behavior and ecological role of humpback and minke whales in the LTER study region in response to climate-driven changes.

Behavioral Response Study: the effects of naval sonar on cetaceans

The Southern California Behavioral Response Study (SOCAL-BRS) is an interdisciplinary research collaboration designed to understand the basic behavior (diving, acoustic, social behavior) of various marine mammal species in southern California, as well as their behavioral responses to controlled sound exposures. Its overall objective is to provide a more robust scientific basis for understanding the potential risk of Navy active sonar operations on marine life to better inform the planning, mitigation, and regulation of these operations. SOCAL BRS is a research collaboration (planned for 2010–2015) funded by several US Navy entities (CNO N45 Environmental Readiness Division and Office of Naval Research) in partnership with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Comparing humpback whale foraging ecology: Pacific, Atlantic, and Antarctic

Across their range, humpback whales feed in locations with varying degrees of direct and indirect human presence and disturbance. The goals of our research proposal are to (1) use novel tag technology and visualization tools to measure, visualize, and quantify the foraging behavior of humpback whales across a range of ecological systems and prey types; (2) determine the types and amount of human activity across ecological systems (e.g. fishing, shipping) that may affect humpbacks in these regions, and (3) synthesize tag-derived data and human activity data together to document the types and magnitudes of risk that humpback whales face throughout their foraging areas in a geospatial framework. This synthesis will directly inform measures to identify and mitigate significant risks of negative interactions between humpback whales and human activities.