Gray whales that spend their summers feeding off the coast of Oregon are shorter than their counterparts who travel north to the Arctic for food, new research from Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute shows. The females average 3 feet shorter and males average 1.5 feet shorter, said the study’s lead author, K.C. Bierlich, a postdoctoral scholar in the institute’s Geospatial Ecology of Marine Megafauna Laboratory.
A new paper authored by Leigh Torres and Susanne Brander estimates that gray whales feeding off the Oregon Coast consume up to 21 million microparticles per day. Microparticle pollution is a threat to the health of gray whales, in addition to obstacles related to increased boat traffic and loss of prey.
Postdoctoral Scholar Solène Derville is the lead author on a new paper that describes the times of year and locations where whales are at greatest danger of entanglement in fishing gear on the Oregon Coast.
A new study of New Zealand blue whales’ vocalizations indicates the whales are present year-round in the South Taranaki Bight and their behavior is influenced by environmental conditions in the region.
To conduct the study, Solène Derville, a marine ecologist at Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute, and colleagues focused on the whale skin samples scientists occasionally gather to learn about the animal’s sex, genetics, diet, and health.
Researchers with Oregon State University have spent so much time with our local gray whales that they know them by name. Now, they’re sharing those observations to help casual whale watchers become better acquainted with the animals and to help raise money for additional research through the their Adopt a Whale campaign.
Blue whales need to find dense patches of krill to survive. A new study suggests that they accomplish this by tracking wind-driven events that stir up their prey. Leigh Torres, an associate professor at the Oregon State University Marine Mammal Institute, says the results are not only convincing, but an important step forward when it comes to conservation strategies.
“It seems like these big die-offs are driven more by conditions in the Arctic, which these days is probably a result of climate change,” Assistant Professor Josh Stewart said. Doctoral student Lisa Hildebrand shared that the body conditions of the Pacific Coast Feeding Group gray whales have been improving over the years, while the body conditions of whales going all the way to the Arctic have been getting worse.
Dawn Barlow and colleagues listened to the blue whale undersea chorus in the South Taranaki Bight, New Zealand. To their surprise, they found that the whales appeared to be unperturbed by natural seismic activity.
MMI grad student and postdoctoral researchers were recently aboard the R/V Bell M. Shimada as part of ongoing marine mammal surveys. Listen to a 4-min story here to share in their excitement over finding the tiny crustaceans that whales call food.