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.
MMI PhD student Renee Albertson is in the Austral Islands collecting data on whales and dolphins as part of the South Pacific Whale Research Consortium. The results of this project will contribute to long-term, ongoing genetic and demographic studies of residency patterns and social organization among whales and dolphins throughout French Polynesia. Follow Renee’s adventure through her bilingual blog.
Internationally recognized whale expert Bruce Mate will lead off training for "Whale Watching Spoken Here" volunteers Nov. 22-23 at the Mark O. Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport.
Mate, the director of the Oregon State University Marine Mammal Institute, will introduce trainees to Pacific gray whale biology and natural history at the Nov. 22 (Saturday) session. He has helped lead the training since co-founding the whale watching program in the late 1970s. For more information and to sign up, read article below:
AUCKLAND, NZ – The first paternity study of southern right whales has found a surprisingly high level of local breeding success for males, scientists say, which is good news for the overall genetic diversity of the species, but could create risk for local populations through in-breeding. Results of the study, by researchers at the University of Auckland, Oregon State University and the New Zealand Department of Conservation, have just been published in the journal Molecular Ecology.
The Symposium and Workshop on ‘Living whales in the Southern Ocean: Advances in methods for non-lethal cetacean research’ is scheduled for 27-29 March 2012, in Puerto Varas, Chile. The symposium and workshop are an initiative of the Southern Ocean Research Partnership (SORP), a multi-national programme to advance the conservation agenda in the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and to improve our scientific understanding of the population dynamics and ecological roles of whales in the Southern Ocean. Please check the website for registration information.
Scott Baker is investigating genetic diversity of dolphins around the South Pacific as part of his Pew Marine Fellowship project, “A Pattern of Dolphins.” Baker, a 2011 fellowship recipient and a professor and associate director at the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University, and his Ph.D. student, Renee Albertson, recently participated in a survey of the islands’ waters.
DUBLIN—Dr. Scott Baker, a pioneer in the use of DNA to better understand the population structure, abundance, and genetic diversity of dolphins and whales, spoke recently at University College Dublin about new research that could help shape conservation measures for North Pacific humpback whales.
The saga of Flex the whale continues to deliver surprises a year after the 13-year-old male western (North Pacific) gray whale was tagged and took scientific observers on a four-month, satellite-tracked ride, far from the Asian coast where he was expected to migrate, across the Bering Sea, through the Gulf of Alaska and down the west coast of North America.
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.
"Hambleton took the meat, froze it, and the following morning sent it by courier to Scott Baker, the associate director of the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University and an expert in cetacean molecular genetics. Baker, who recently established a database of whale, dolphin, and porpoise DNA, identified the meat as sei, the fourth largest of the baleen whales." [The New Yorker, Nov. 4, 2013]
Bruce Mate, director of the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University, who has been part of the satellite tagging team both years, said he expects the Russian whales to stay around Sakhalin Island until January, which is when Flex took off.
“Though humpback whales are found in all oceans of the world, the North Pacific humpback whales should probably be considered a sub-species at an ocean-basin level – based on genetic isolation of these populations on an evolutionary time scale,” said Scott Baker, associate director of the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center and lead author on the paper.
Read the National Geographic story about blue whales online. This article by Kenneth Brower, tells about the second part of a National Geographic-funded expedition to discover breeding and feeding grounds of the world's largest mammal, the blue whale. National Geographic Channel will first air this TV special on March 8th - please check for times on your local TV listings.
Second, if trade in whale meat is legalized, it could be difficult to identify black market meat. Monitoring and enforcement would be a challenge. "These problems are not easily solved," adds Scott Baker of Oregon State University, Corvallis. His molecular sleuthing of whalemeat markets has shows a large trade in illegal or unreported whale products. A return to commercial whaling, he suspects, would provide even greater incentives for illegal hunting.