The Marine Mammal Institute's Whale Telemetry Group (WTG) has pioneered the development of satellite-monitored radio tags to study the movements, critical habitats, and dive characteristics of free-ranging whales and dolphins around the world. Since the first deployment of a satellite tag on a humpback whale off Newfoundland, Canada, in 1986, the WTG has tagged a total of 462 whales from 11 different species. This work has led to the discovery of previously unknown migration routes and seasonal distribution (wintering and summering areas), as well as descriptions of diving behavior.
The WTG primarily focuses on endangered whale species whose distribution, movements, and critical habitats (feeding, breeding, and migration areas) are unknown for much of the year. Decision makers use this valuable information to manage human activities that may jeopardize the recovery of endangered whale populations.
The objectives of the WTG’s telemetry studies are to: (1) identify whale migration routes; (2) identify specific feeding and breeding grounds, if unknown; (3) characterize local whale movements and dive habits in both feeding and breeding grounds, and during migration; (4) examine the relationships between whale movements/dive habits and prey distribution, time of day, geographic location, or physical and biological oceanographic conditions; (5) provide surfacing-rate information that can be useful in the development of more accurate abundance estimations, or assessing whales’ reactions to human disturbance; (6) characterize whale vocalizations; and (7) characterize sound pressure levels to which whales are exposed.
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.
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.
A multi-agency team of scientists has launched a project to reduce the number of whales killed from ship strikes and entanglement in fishing nets by identifying high-risk areas along the West Coast of the United States. The WhaleWatch project will use data from the tagging and satellite monitoring of more than 300 whales, conducted by researchers at Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute.