Using drones deployed in the air and GoPros underwater, Oregon State University marine ecologist Leigh Torres recently completed her fourth field season documenting previously unseen behaviors of gray whales – and gathering their poop – off the Oregon coast.
Oregon Sea Grant’s annual State of the Coast conference, will be held Nov. 9 at the Salishan resort in Gleneden Beach. Among the panelists will be MMI's new director, Dr. Lisa T. Ballance, in a session about whale research off the West Coast, the Unusual Mortality Event of gray whales, and fishing perspectives on the impacts of increasing whale entanglements.
Guest columnist Dr. Caren Braby discusses regulatory efforts to reduce whale entanglements in crab fishing gear, which includes a partnership between ODFW, Oregon Sea Grant, and OSU’s Marine Mammal Institute to gather information about whales in Oregon waters.
Oregon State University Marine Mammal Institute researchers using electronic tags were able to monitor blue and fin whales off the coast of Southern California over multiple weeks, providing new insight into the feeding behaviors of the two largest whale species. “The information collected with these tags gives us a good description of the scale of whales’ feeding behavior over periods of hours, days and weeks, which is something we’ve not been able to do before,” said Ladd Irvine, a senior faculty research assistant in OSU's Marine Mammal Institute and the study’s lead author.
To better understand blue whale behavior off the US West Coast, MMI researchers Daniel Palacios, Ladd Irvine, and Bruce Mate, together with a team from NOAA and the University of Maryland, examined the relationship between feeding behavior and ocean conditions using long-term satellite tracking data from 72 tagged whales. They implemented a statistical model that predicted where and when blue whales were most likely to be foraging for food. The new insight gained from the study could aid in the management of the endangered North Pacific blue whale population in light of climate change and whale mortality due to ship strikes.
MMI Associate Director Scott Baker is co-author on a study that describes new subspecies of short-finned pilot whale using genomic and mitogenomic data collected from individuals throughout the global range of the species. The results support the hypothesis that food-poor regions of the central Pacific Ocean have isolated these populations, leading to evolutionary divergence, despite the absence of physical barriers. The proposal to recognize the subspecies is important new information for managers and conservationists.
A new study from Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute shows many of the cetaceans once thought to be part of a resident population travel long distances. But during the three-year study, 18 of the 33 whales scientists tracked hung out at Point St. George in California, said Barbara Lagerquist, a senior faculty research assistant with the institute.
Blue whales reach their massive size by relying on their exceptional memories to find historically productive feeding sites rather than responding in real time to emerging prey patches, a new study concludes.
Researchers from Mexico and the United States have concluded that a population of fin whales in the rich Gulf of California ecosystem may live there year-round -- an unusual circumstance for a whale species known to migrate across ocean basins. Results of the study are being published today in the journal PLOS ONE.
MMI graduate Dr. Alana Alexander has been awarded a Rutherford Foundation postdoctoral fellowship for research entitled, “Hologenomics for conservation: a first test of utility.” Congratulations, Alana!
The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department is seeking whale lovers to participate in its annual Whale Watching Spoken Here program. The first of three training sessions is set for Saturday, Dec. 1, in Newport, at the Hatfield Marine Science Center. Training will be delivered by Dr. Bruce Mate, an expert on whales and director of the Oregon State University Marine Mammal Institute.
Scientists at Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute have pioneered new ways of documenting these incredible whale defecation events with aerial drones. Leigh Torres, an OSU MMI marine ecologist, is a specialist in this field who has helped capture illuminating views of gray whales for several years.
There’s a set of massive whale bones resting on the bottom of the bay in Newport, Oregon. Scientists from Oregon State University put them there with a plan for a future display on shore. But they’re having trouble finding the money to retrieve the rare blue whale skeleton from beneath the waves. “Basically, we’re ready to bring it up and start putting it together,” said OSU Marine Mammal Institute Director Bruce Mate.
The population data created with Wildbook’s help can be used for much more than a census. At Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute, professor Scott Baker uses the software to understand humpback whale migrations in the North Pacific. “It’s what we might call an informatics revolution,” said Baker.
Dr. Bruce Mate and Dr. Leigh Torres will be among the speakers at the Whale Trail Interpretive Sign Dedication and Community Celebration at Don Davis Park in Newport, Saturday, August 11. The Whale Trail network of viewing sites helps to inspire appreciation and stewardship of whales and the marine environment.
[VIDEO] While many Alaskans may not think of sharks having the same presence here as in other areas of the country or world, scientists are learning a lot from the species found off of Alaska's coasts. "Really we have no idea how many are out there and where they really hang out and what they do," Markus Horning, Science Director at the Alaska SeaLife Center said about his research on sleeper sharks. Earlier this summer, Horning and his team spent five days on the water in Resurrection Bay hoping to catch a sleeper shark.