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PAST ACS/LA MONTHLY SPEAKER SERIES

For your reference, here are the previous lectures.

     
   

LECTURE ARCHIVES

 

   

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2010

7:30 PM

ACS-LA LECTURE

Quest for Two Dolphins: Results of the 2009 survey to study common dolphin populations in the California Current

by Susan Chivers, PhD

   

The Southwestern coast of North America is one of the few areas in the world where the ranges of both recognized species of common dolphin overlap. Susan Chivers was chief scientist on the “Ecosystem Survey of Delphinus Species Research Cruise 2009,” conducted by NOAA Fisheries Southwest Fisheries Science Center’s Protected Resources Division. The multidisciplinary, eco-system based survey of common dolphins along the U.S. West Coast covered the waters from San Francisco Bay to the tip of the Baja Peninsula with special emphasis on the Southern California Bight for three months. It was designed to further our understanding of abundance, stock structure, morphology and life history parameters for the short- and long-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus delphis and D. capensis, respectively).

Key reproductive parameters (e.g. pregnancy rates and timing of reproduction), will be estimated as well as contaminant concentrations to provide an index of health for these species. Both species are important members of the California Current ecosystem, and the range of at least one stock extends south into Mexican waters. A large and growing coastal urban population in Southern California impacts the Southern California Bight and exposure to a wide range of anthropogenic impacts (commercial and recreational fisheries, habitat degradation due to pollution and ocean noise) are potential threats to Delphinus populations in this region. The survey was conducted on board the NOAA Ship McArthur II with aerial support from the Twin Otter NOAA48.

More information can be found at http://swfsc.noaa.gov/prd-delphinus.aspx.

Susan J. Chivers received her PhD from UCLA and since then has worked for NOAA at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, CA. Susan’s primary research interests are the life history characteristics and population structure of small delphinids inhabiting the eastern North Pacific. Research on spotted, spinner and common dolphins, harbor porpoise and false killer whales has been the primary focus of her work. Susan is particularly interested in how these two disciplines allow us to improve conservation plans for cetacean species by better understanding their natural history and ecology.

Come and meet our speaker in the relaxed surroundings of the Puesta del Sol restaurant at our no-host dinner before the meeting. Dinner is at 6 p.m., at 1622 S. Gaffey Street (at the corner of Gaffey and 17th St.) in San Pedro.

For more info call ACS/LA at 310-847-0516

     
   

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2010

7:30 PM

ACS-LA LECTURE

Diet Matters: Why do cetaceans have the greatest size range of all mammals?

by Graham Slater, Ph.D. UCLA

   

From the tiny Vaquita porpoise to the largest animal to ever live on earth, the mighty blue whale, the almost 90 species of cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) alive today as well as the over 400 extinct species show an extreme variation in size. Multiple theories have tried to pinpoint the cause of this phenomenon, like sonar, large brains, baleen and complex sociality.


Graham Slater and a group of colleagues confirmed that this diversification happened explosively quickly, over a period of just approximately ten million years. And a closer look at the diets of the different species revealed that they can be sorted by size according to what they eat. Graham will share the results and process of his recently published paper on the subject with us.


Graham received his PhD in Evolutionary Biology from UCLA in 2009 and is currently a post-doctoral researcher there. He studies the evolution of diversity in vertebrates, and is particularly interested in patterns of variation that are related to diet. Originally from the UK, Graham moved to the US for grad school. He calls himself a British comedy snob and considers Arrested Development the greatest TV show of all time.


An article about Slater’s research appeared in Science: http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2010/05/whale-diversity-driven-by-diet.html.

The paper can be found at the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2010/05/18/rspb.2010.0408.abstract?sid=2922b577-5aab-4c6e-9e4b-db7944a7c898

     
humpback whale  

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2010

7:30 PM

ACS-LA LECTURE

Swimming with Humpback Whales on the Silver Bank: A Photographic Journey

by Jodi Frediani

    The Silver Bank or Banco de la Plata is a mating and calving destination for humpback whales about 50 miles north of the the island of Hispaniola. It is part of the Dominican Republic Marine Mammal Sanctuary and is situated in the largest humpback mating, courting and calving area in the world. It attracts whales from several feeding grounds in the North Atlantic. 

Photographer Jodi Frediani has spent twelve weeks over the past eight years following her passion: snorkeling with and photographing the North Atlantic humpback whales which congregate on the Silver Bank each year to calve. Jodi has captured the full experience in color photographs and will share the excitement, the energy and wonder of these close in-water encounters, while offering a bit of natural history and tales of special whales.  Her presentation will include the results of her recent efforts to identify 'friendly' humpbacks which participate in the swim experience. 

In her day job, Jodi works as an environmental forest and watershed consultant and animal trainer. Her passions include photography, animals and anything to do with water. She first picked up a camera at age 12 and has been photographing animals ever since. Jodi began swimming with humpback whales in 2003. Much of her spare time is now spent on or in the water, photographing whales. She is assisting with fluke ID in Monterey Bay as well as on the Silver Bank.

You can see some of Jodi’s photography at www.jodifrediani.com
     
gray whale in san ignacio lagoon  

TUESDAY

JUNE 29, 2010

7:30 PM

ACS-LA LECTURE

Using Passive Acoustics to monitor whale numbers: The case of Gray Whales in Laguna San Ignacio

by Melania Guerra, Scripps Institute of Oceanography

   

Laguna San Ignacio on the Baja California peninsula is one of the most well known and inspirational whale watching destinations in the world. Melania Guerra of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography has been conducting an ongoing research project using acoustic monitoring devices to answer some of the many questions that remain about the utilization by the gray whales of this remote sanctuary and about the human impact on the aquatic mammals.

By deploying an array of passive listening devices throughout the lagoon and by attaching acoustic probes to some of the whales, Melania has been getting a clearer picture of what the whales do when they are hidden from view below the water and also how the noise from boat traffic and a nearby road affects the animals. One of the results of this groundbreaking research is the development of a technique to conduct an “acoustic census,” a way to monitor population trends by sound measurements alone.

Melania Guerra is a native of Costa Rica and she received her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Universidad de Costa Rica. She went on to earn her M.S. in Oceanography from the University of California, San Diego, where she is also completing her Ph.D. work.

Among other things, she worked as a research assistant in the Nuclear Physics Laboratory at the Universidad de Costa Rica, interned at the Advanced Space Propulsion Laboratory at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, worked on a pilot project with the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol to record boat traffic across the international border and a pilot project to record underwater vocalizations of gray whales along the northbound migration at the NMFS gray whale census at Point Piedras Blancas.

As a research assistant at Scripps, her work focuses on marine mammal acoustics, digital signal processing and sound propagation and she built many of the acoustic instruments she uses in her research.

Come and meet our speaker in the relaxed surroundings of the Puesta del Sol restaurant at our no-host dinner before the meeting. Dinner is at 6 p.m., at 1622 S. Gaffey Street (at the corner of Gaffey and 17th St.) in San Pedro.

For more info call ACS/LA at 310-847-0516

     
     
   

TUESDAY

MAY 25, 2010

7:30 PM

ACS-LA LECTURE

Unraveling Odontocete Biosonar: Journey into Toothed Whale Heads using Rocket Science and Cybernetic Technology

by Ted Cranford, San Diego State University

   

Cuvier’s beaked whales  are among the species that raise the most concern when it comes to the effects of military sonar. Not much is known about these inhabitants of deep oceans who spend their lives far from shore and are seldom encountered by humans. In a quest to better understand the effect of sound on these animals, Dr. Ted Cranford used cutting edge technology and innovative methods to build a model of the whales’ hearing apparatus. He developed a technique to scan the head of a dead Cuvier’s beaked whale in one of the world’s largest industrial x-ray CT scanners and built a Finite Element Model (FEM) to reveal how they hear. The results turned the previously held beliefs on their head and showed that the whales’ hearing anatomy treats sounds of different frequencies in different ways. The methods pioneered by Cranford hold great promise for research with many other species.


Ted Cranford is an adjunct assistant professor at San Diego State University. He earned his Ph. D. at the University of California at Santa Cruz, but he developed his interest in cetaceans  in the Cabrillo Whalewatch program where he was a naturalist while attending Long Beach City College. He recently earned the “Excellence in Science Communication Award” for his presentation of the Cuvier’s beaked whale research during the 18th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals in Quebec City.

Ted Cranford’s Whale Science website is at http://www.spermwhale.org/index.html; a very interesting article on his recent research can be downloaded at http://www.enviro-navair.navy.mil/currents.cfm?CFID=215524&CFTOKEN=32869038.

     
   

TUESDAY

APRIL 27, 2010

7:30 PM

ACS-LA LECTURE

Are humpback whales still globally endangered?

by Aly Fleming, Scripps Intitution of Oceanography

   

While most humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) populations are categorized as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, they remain Endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA). Humpbacks are currently classified as a single species worldwide. However, genetic, photo-ID and telemetry studies have shown that they occur in distinct population segments (DPS) in each ocean, and they are recognized as a series of stocks by the International Whaling Commission. Although humpback populations were reduced to fractions of their original size by commercial whaling, many populations have shown consistent growth over the past few decades. Recent studies estimate abundance in the North Pacific and North Atlantic to be approximately 20,000 and 12,000 respectively. In the Southern Hemisphere, Australian stocks have been growing at a rate of 10-12% per year while other stocks have shown slower growth or even decline. Prompted by this variable pattern of recovery between stocks, a worldwide review of the species has been initiated, evaluating the biological justifications and status of each population. This review includes information gathered from the scientific literature, unpublished data and structured interviews with humpback whale experts. In addition to a comprehensive synthesis of abundance levels and risk factors, information relevant to defining DPSs for humpback whales is summarized. This review will be a fundamental component of the reevaluation of humpback ESA status in 2010 by National Marine Fisheries Service, which will resolve the question- are humpback whales still endangered?

Aly Fleming is currently a graduate student at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UCSD. She received her B.S. from Tufts University outside of Boston where she majored in Biology and Environmental Studies. While there, she was advised by Dr. Philip Starks while conducting independent research on cetacean distribution and relative abundance on Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. After graduating, she worked as the Voyage Coordinator for Ocean Alliance, an NGO operating a 5-year long global voyage to assess man-made toxins in the marine environment through the collection of sperm whale biopsy samples. Aly then worked through the University of Auckland, New Zealand in Dr. Scott Baker�s lab with Dr. Gabriella de Tezanos Pinto as she completed her PhD field work on population genetics of bottlenose dolphins. Upon returning back to the states, Aly worked as a lab technician and helped with the teaching of introductory biology lab and lecture courses at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Aly is part of the Center for Marine Biodiversity & Conservation at Scripps and is an IGERT Fellow. She is researching population structure in cetacean populations and its application to management and conservation. She is advised by Dr. Jay Barlow and is currently conducting a status review of humpback whales in the Northern Hemisphere.

     
spy hop  

TUESDAY

MAR 30, 2010

7:30 PM

ACS-LA LECTURE

Sucking, slurping, and gulping: An evolutionary look at at gray whale and other cetacean prey capture methods

by Cassie Johnston, San Diego State University

     
   
Studies related to feeding strategies among whales have typically concentrated on the anatomy or biomechanics of common, easy to access species. Although various aspects of gray whale migrations are well known, very little has been studied regarding their anatomy and how their unique, benthic suction-feeding method may be compared to other suction-feeding whales. This benthic feeding strategy is one of the most difficult to study and has consequently resulted in debate as to the actual physical behavior occurring. Additionally, little effort has been made to understand the evolutionary history of suction-feeding in whales, which could ultimately impact our understanding of the present-day feeding methods employed by all cetaceans.

This study combined various aspects of dissection, anatomy, and evolution to take a step back and look at the broader picture, in addition to examining how the gray whale may compare to those other suction feeders. Morphological characters based on structures thought to be important in suction-feeding were examined using statistics and also evolutionary applications. The results indicate that suction-feeding likely evolved once in cetacean history, either at the most recent common ancestor) of modern cetaceans (~33-28 million years ago) or possibly in the earliest whales, archaeocetes, (approximately ~40-33 million years ago). Furthermore, while all toothed whales may have the ability of using some degree of suction in their feeding, the difference is likely related to ecological factors, particularly prey type. Finally, the gray whale appears to be a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to their feeding strategy. They share morphological characters with the other baleen whales indicating they can engulf and skim feed to a certain degree. Additionally, the gray whale shares some of the suction-feeding characters with toothed whales, which are attributed to their benthic suction-feeding strategy.

Casssie Johnston is currently a research assistant for Dr. Ted Cranford at San Diego State. Her work involves processing CT scans of cetacean ears for use in understanding how cetaceans hear. She graduated with her Master’s from San Diego State in May 2009. Her thesis research focused on examining the anatomy and evolutionary history of suction-feeding in cetaceans after discovering how little is known about gray whale suction-feeding in comparison to toothed whale suction feeders. In October, she presented a talk on this work at the Society for Marine Mammalogy conference in Quebec City, Canada. Also, she has a recently published paper in Marine Mammal Science that discusses the anatomical findings from a dissection of a gray whale. Prior to attending San Diego State, Cassie received her Bachelor’s degree in Aquatic Biology at St. Cloud State University. During her time there, her advisor provided her with training and practice conducting research, which she credits for ther successful and timely completion of her thesis project.

Come and meet our speaker in the relaxed surroundings of the Puesta del Sol restaurant at our no-host dinner before the meeting. Dinner is at 6 p.m., at 1622 S. Gaffey Street (at the corner of Gaffey and 217th St.) in San Pedro.

For more info call ACS/LA at 310-847-0516
     
common dolphin  

TUESDAY

FEB 23, 2010

7:30 PM

ACS-LA LECTURE

Quest for Two Dolphins: Results of the 2009 survey to study common dolphin populations in the California Current

by Susan Chivers, Ph.D., Southwest Fisheries Science Center, NMFS, NOAA

     
   

The Southwestern coast of North America is one of the few areas in the world where the ranges of both recognized species of common dolphin overlap. Susan Chivers was chief scientist on the “Ecosystem Survey of Delphinus Species Research Cruise 2009,” conducted by NOAA Fisheries Southwest Fisheries Science Center’s Protected Resources Division. The multidisciplinary, eco-system based survey of common dolphins along the U.S. West Coast covered the waters from San Francisco Bay to the tip of the Baja Peninsula with special emphasis on the Southern California Bight for three months. It was designed to further our understanding of abundance, stock structure, morphology and life history parameters for the short- and long-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus delphis and D. capensis, respectively).

Key reproductive parameters (e.g. pregnancy rates and timing of reproduction), will be estimated as well as contaminant concentrations to provide an index of health for these species. Both species are important members of the California Current ecosystem, and the range of at least one stock extends south into Mexican waters. A large and growing coastal urban population in Southern California impacts the Southern California Bight and exposure to a wide range of anthropogenic impacts (commercial and recreational fisheries, habitat degradation due to pollution and ocean noise) are potential threats to Delphinus populations in this region. The survey was conducted on board the NOAA Ship McArthur II with aerial support from the Twin Otter NOAA48.

More information can be found at http://swfsc.noaa.gov/prd-delphinus.aspx.

Susan J. Chivers received her PhD from UCLA and since then has worked for NOAA at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, CA.  Susan’s primary research interests are the life history characteristics and population structure of small delphinids inhabiting the eastern North Pacific.  Research on spotted, spinner and common dolphins, harbor porpoise and false killer whales has been the primary focus of her work.  Susan is particularly interested in how these two disciplines allow us to improve conservation plans for cetacean species by better understanding their natural history and ecology.

     
Killer Whale  

TUESDAY

JAN 26, 2010

7:30 PM

ACS-LA LECTURE

Contaminants in Marine Mammals

by Gwen D. Goodmanlowe, Ph.D., Cal State Long Beach

     
    Dr. Goodmanlowe’s passion for the ocean began at a young age when she would spend her summers along the New Jersey shores, fishing and boating. After receiving her B.S. from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, New Jersey, she headed west and received her Masters Degree at Cal State Long Beach where she examined the effects of ultraviolet radiation on coral bleaching.

Marine mammals attracted her to the University of Hawaii where she obtained her Ph.D studying the feeding ecology of the endangered Hawaiian monk seal. She currently is a lecturer at CSULB, while continuing her pinniped research on the side.

Her current research is looking at the effects of DDT and PCBs on our three local species of Pinnipeds (California sea lion, Pacific harbor seal, and northern elephant seal), as well as the contaminants in three species of cetaceans from Palmyra Atoll.
     
 

TUESDAY

NOV 24, 2009

7:30 PM

ACS-LA LECTURE: “Dolphin-Safe” Tuna?  Past and present impacts of the yellowfin tuna purse-seine fishery on dolphins in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean
 
by Katie Cramer, Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD

     
   

In the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, large yellowfin tuna are often found swimming with certain species of dolphins.  This unique association enabled the creation of a large-scale fishery for yellowfin tuna that locates and captures dolphins in nets order to catch the tuna swimming beneath them.  Since its inception in the late 1950s, the yellowfin tuna purse-seine fishery has killed over 6 million dolphins, three times the estimated number of whales killed during commercial whaling in the 20th century.  Two dolphin subspecies particularly affected by the fishery, the northeastern pantropical spotted dolphin and the eastern spinner dolphin, have been reduced to about one-fifth and one-third of pre-fishery levels, respectively, and have been listed as ‘depleted’ under the US Marine Mammal Protection Act.

By the late 1990s, a combination of regulations, embargoes (e.g., “The Dolphin-Safe” tuna campaign), and improvements in fishing techniques reduced the reported number of dolphins killed by fishing operations by more than 99%.  However, neither of the depleted dolphin populations has increased in abundance as expected following the reduction in mortality.  This has prompted concern over continued impacts of the yellowfin tuna purse-seine fishery that extend beyond direct mortality.  Although reported dolphin mortality is low, the fishery continues to chase and encircle dolphins in nets, which can conceivably negatively impact dolphin health and reproduction. 

Katie Cramer completed a study with colleagues from the National Marine Fisheries Service that tracked changes in reproductive output since 1987 for the two depleted dolphin populations, from the analysis of aerial photographs of dolphin schools taken during research cruises. The study found that the proportion of adult animals with calves has declined recently, and that the amount of fishing effort is correlated with dolphin reproductive output.  It appears that the decline in reproductive output is a major factor influencing the failure of dolphin populations to recover, and that the fishery is at least partially responsible for this decline.

Katie is currently a PhD student at the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego.  Her dissertation work is focused on historical changes in coral reef ecosystems, with the aim of describing what “natural” coral reefs were like before human disturbances, and the degree to which land clearing is responsible for the recent demise of coral reefs.  Katie just returned from studying reefs in Caribbean Panama, where she was a Fellow at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute for the past year. Before beginning her work at Scripps, she worked in the Protected Resources Division at the National Marine Fisheries Service science center in San Diego.

 

 

TUESDAY

OCT 27, 2009

7:30 PM

ACS-LA LECTURE

Lethal Sound: Submarines, Sonar, and the Death of Whales by Joel Reynolds from NRDC

Human activity has been altering the ocean habitat and having detrimental effects on its inhabitants for a long time. But few actions are as immediately harmful as the use of military sonar. Sound thousands of times louder than a jet engine at takeoff is projected into the water to “illuminate” quiet enemy submarines. The effect on cetaceans is tremendous, raging from immediate death debilitating injuries. The Natural Resources Defense Council has been leading the fight to get the US Navy to adopt safeguards to mitigate the effects of this technology, and Senior Attorney Joel Reynolds has spearheaded that effort. His lecture will detail NRDC’s history of involvement with sonar issues, highlighting various cases and emphasizing the marine species affected by ocean noise.

Joel joined the NRDC as a senior attorney in 1990, after ten years with the Center for Law in the Public Interest and the Western Center on Law and Poverty, both in Los Angeles. He graduated in 1975 from the University of California at Riverside with degrees in Music and Political Science and in 1978 from Columbia Law School. He currently heads NRDC’s Southern California Program, where he has focused on litigation and major domestic and international campaigns across a broad range of environmental issues, including children’s health, environmental justice, endangered species and coastal protection, transportation, parkland conservation, and marine mammal protection.  Since 1994, he has successfully prosecuted a number of lawsuits challenging the U.S. Navy’s illegal use in training of underwater explosives and high intensity military sonar – an issue that landed in the U.S. Supreme Court last fall. 

The archives of Joel’s blog can be found at http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/jreynolds/about/; to read an op-ed piece on the US Navy’s use of sonar coauthored by Joel Reynolds go to http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0402/p09s02-coop.html.

     
 

TUESDAY

SEP 29, 2009

7:30 PM

ACS-LA LECTURE

Contaminants in Marine Mammals by Gwen D. Goodmanlowe, Ph.D.,
Cal State Long Beach

    --See Dr. Goodmanlowe on January 26th

Dr. Goodmanlowe’s passion for the ocean began at a young age when she would spend her summers along the New Jersey shores, fishing and boating. After receiving her B.S. from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, New Jersey, she headed west and received her Masters Degree at Cal State Long Beach where she examined the effects of ultraviolet radiation on coral bleaching.

Marine mammals attracted her to the University of Hawaii where she obtained her Ph.D studying the feeding ecology of the endangered Hawaiian monk seal. She currently is a lecturer at CSULB, while continuing her pinniped research on the side.

Her current research is looking at the effects of DDT and PCBs on our three local species of Pinnipeds (California sea lion, Pacific harbor seal, and northern elephant seal), as well as the contaminants in three species of cetaceans from Palmyra Atoll.

     
     
    2008-2009 LECTURE ARCHIVES
     
 

TUESDAY

MAY 26 , 2009

Monthly ACS Lecture - Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

Gray Whale Ecology by Christina Tombach Wright

     
 

THURSDAY

MAY 14 , 2009

Special Lecture - Special Location

New insights into the status of humpback and blue whales off California by John Calambokidis of Cascadia Research

     

Whale Update: New insights into the status of humpback and blue whales off California and the threats they face, by John Calambokidis of Cascadia Research

The humpback and blue whale populations that summer off California and adjacent waters have been among John Calambokidis’ main research interests. His work has been instrumental in acquiring much of our current knowledge about these animals, including size, distribution and trends of these populations.

John will update us on his recent projects, including the multi-year SPLASH (Structure of Populations, Levels of Abundance and Status of Humpbacks) survey, one of the largest international collaborative studies of any whale population ever conducted. It was designed to determine the abundance, trends, movements, and population structure of humpback whales throughout the North Pacific and to examine human impacts on this population. This study involved over 50 research groups and more than 400 researchers in 10 countries. John also recently took part in an expedition to the Costa Rican Dome in search of the calving grounds of the local blue whales, that was featured both in a March 2009 article in National Geographic magazine, and in the documentary “Kingdom of the Blue Whale,” that aired recently on the National Geographic Channel. He is also looking at the blue whales’ use of the Santa Barbara Channel in the wake of a spate of recent ship strikes that resulted in the deaths of several animals.

This promises to be an exciting and enlightening evening with up to the minute and behind the scenes information on two of our most charismatic wild species.

John Calambokidis is a Research Biologist and co-founder of Cascadia Research (in 1979). He has co-authored over 30 papers in scientific journals and two books: the award-winning Guide to Marine Mammals of Greater Puget Sound (Island Publishers, with R. Osborne and E.M. Dorsey) and Blue Whales (Voyageur Press, with G.H. Steiger). He is a charter member of the Society for Marine Mammalogy and a scientific advisor for ACS.

More information about Cascadia Research and John’s work can be found at  http://www.cascadiaresearch.org/.

PLEASE NOTE!

The lecture will held on Thursday, May 14, at 7:30 p.m. in the Times Mirror Room at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, 900 Exposition Blvd., Los Angeles. The event is free and open to the public. Free parking is available in the staff parking lot off Vermont Ave. For more information call (310) 548-0966

     
 

TUESDAY,

APRIL 28, 2009, 7:30 p.m

Large-Scale Whale Photography

by Bryant Austin

of Marine Mammal Conservation Through the Arts

     

Bryant Austin and one of his worksIt is a well established fact that photography is a powerful tool for conservation work. Bryant Austin takes this concept a big step further with the creation of high resolution, life size images of live whales in their natural habitat. Through his non-profit organization, Marine Mammal
Conservation Through the Arts, Austin exhibits his photographs all over the country and the world. His aim is to unveil the mystery of the whales by communicating their true-scale and depth. Austin works with whale researchers like Libby Ayre, in 2009, he plans to document five species; blue, fin, minke, Southern right, and sperm whales. He uses a state of the
art Hasselblad H3DII 50 megapixel camera. He will share some of his groundbreaking work with us.

Bryant Austin is an experimental multimedia artist engaged in  photographic projects to benefit humanity through consciousness-raising subject matter. He is based in Scotts Valley, California. He worked as an Associate Governmental Program Analyst with the Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center, a hybrid marine mammal research facility under the auspices of the University of California at Santa Cruz and the California Department of Fish and Game. He volunteered with various non-profit marine mammal research and conservation organizations including the Marine Mammal Center, Monterey Bay Aquarium and Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and founded MMCTA in 2005.


More information about Bryant Austin and his work can be found at Studio Cosmos and Marine Mammal Conservation Through The Arts.

     
 

TUESDAY, MAR 31, 2009, 7:30 p.m

Cetacean Acoustic Ecology

by John Hildebrand, Ph.D., Scripps Institute of Oceanography

John will discuss the use of passive acoustic monitoring for studies of
whales and dolphins. Advances in the technology for monitoring underwater sound has provided insight into cetacean behavior and distribution. Specific examples discussed will include blue and fin whales, as well as beaked whales and white-sided dolphins.

Dr. John A. Hildebrand is a Professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California at San Diego. He obtained a B.S. degree in Physics and Electrical Engineering at the University of California San Diego, and a Ph.D. degree in Applied Physics from Stanford University. He has been on the research staff of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography since 1983. During this time he has chaired ten graduate Ph.D. thesis committees, and regularly teaches classes on bioacoustics, and experimental laboratory acoustics. He has contributed to more than 100 referred publications, on topics ranging from acoustic wave propagation, to sound production by marine mammals. His recent research has focused on ambient noise, acoustic techniques for marine mammal population census, and the effects of high intensity sound on marine mammals.

     
 

TUESDAY, JAN 27, 2009, 7:30 p.m

Investigations Into Recent Blue Whale Mortalities

by Michelle Berman and Paul Collins

Four endangered blue whales were killed in or near the Santa Barbara Channel in the fall of 2007. A thorough investigation revealed the cause to be ship strikes in a year when the blue whales' food source, krill, was abundant in the shipping lanes leading to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Michelle Berman and Paul Collins necropsied three of the dead whales and also studied an aborted fetus associated with one of  them.  Four blue whales deaths plus one fetus was an unusually high number for a single year; the museum has only documented six other blue whale dead strandings since 1980. The population of blue whales that feeds off California and Baja California in the summer is estimated at just over 2000 individuals and constitutes the largest and healthiest population of this still critically endangered species.

Michelle and Paul will discuss their investigation into the deaths of the
whales, what was learned from the events, follow up research, and will
discuss measures taken to prevent such incidents in the future.  Paul Collins joined the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History as Curator of Vertebrate Zoology in 1973. He earned his B.S. and M.A. in Zoology from
the University of California, Santa Barbara. Michelle Berman is the
Associate Curator of Vertebrate Zoology at the same institution. She
received her B.S. from Colorado State University and her M.A. from the
University of Central Florida. She is the California Marine Mammal Stranding Network's central coast stranding coordinator for cetaceans.

For more reading, please see this overview on the SBMNH site and an article in the Santa Barbara Independent.

     
     
 

SPECIAL LECTURE (Lecture held at Cal-Tech)
Thursday - January 15, 2009, 7:30 p.m

Beautiful Minds: The Parallel Lives of Great Apes and Dolphins by Maddalena Bearzi, co-author.

Beautiful Minds Book CoverApes and dolphins: primates and cetaceans. Could any creatures appear to be more different? Yet both are large-brained intelligent mammals with complex communication and social interaction. In the first book to study apes and dolphins side by side, Maddalena Bearzi and Craig B. Stanford, a dolphin biologist and a primatologist who have spent their careers studying these animals in the wild, combine their insights with compelling results. Beautiful Minds explains how and why apes and dolphins are so distantly related yet so cognitively alike and what this teaches us about another large-brained mammal: Homo sapiens.

Noting that apes and dolphins have had no common ancestor in nearly 100 million years, Bearzi and Stanford describe the parallel evolution that gave rise to their intelligence. And they closely observe that intelligence in action. The authors detail their subjects’ ability to develop family bonds, form alliances, and care for their young. They offer an understanding of their culture, politics, social structure, personality, and capacity for emotion.

Maddalena Bearzi is the President and co-founder of the Ocean Conservation Society, Director of the Los Angeles Dolphin Project and is a visiting scholar in the Departments of Anthropology and Biological Sciences, at UCLA. She holds a BS degree from University of Padova, Italy and a Ph.D. in Biology from UCLA. Maddalena has studied dolphins and whales and other animals in many parts of the world; her main focus at the moment is on dolphins and other marine creatures in the Santa Monica Bay and nearshore Southern California waters.

Visit Maddalena’s website and the Beautiful Minds website.

     
 

TUESDAY
NOV 25, 2008

RESCUING THE KATRINA DOLPHINS by Pamela Govett, DVM, Assistant Professor, Marine Animal Medicine, Western University of Health Sciences


The Rhino with Glue-On Shoes book coverAmong the victims of Hurricane Katrina were several captive dolphins who were relocated in advance of the storm and some of which escaped during the event, were recaptured and nursed back to health in advance of their move to the Atlantis, Paradise Island resort in the Bahamas. Veterinarian Pamela Govett wrote about the travails of the sixteen dolphins in a chapter of the book “The Rhino with Glue-On Shoes and Other Surprising True Stories of Zoo Vets and Their Patients.” She will share the story of the Katrina Dolphins and some of her experiences in caring for captive animals.

Pamela Govett, DVM, Dipl. ACZ is Assistant Professor of Marine Mammal Medicine at the Western University College of Veterinary. She has long held an interest in ocean life and after graduating from the University of Arizona with a BS in Ecology, began her career researching cetacean vocalizations. She received her veterinary degree graduating with honors from the University of Florida in 2000. She interned at the University of Georgia, completed a residency at North Carolina State University and worked as interim associate veterinarian at the New England Aquarium in Boston She served as Head Veterinarian at Atlantis, Paradise Island resort in the Bahamas, where she assisted them in gaining American Zoological Association accreditation and developed the veterinary program and facilities, looking after dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, rays, fish, and birds.

     
 

TUESDAY
OCT 28, 2008

Monthly ACS Lecture

ENFORCING THE MARINE MAMMAL PROTECTION ACT AND OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS by Christina Ramirez, NOAA Enforcement Officer

The NOAA Fisheries Office for Law Enforcement (OLE) is dedicated primarily to the enforcement of laws that protect and regulate the living marine resources of the United States and their natural habitat. NOAA Fisheries' special agents and enforcement officers have specified authority to enforce over 37 statutes, including the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 (MMPA), the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA), the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act (MSA), as well as numerous treaties related to the conservation and protection of marine resources and other matters of concern to NOAA. The Office for Law Enforcement also plays a key role in the enforcement of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) as they relate to marine wildlife.

More information at NOAA Fisheries: Law Enforcement web page.

Christina Ramirez is an Enforcement Officer with NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement’s Southwest Division in Long Beach. She has a Master's and Bachelor's degrees in Criminal Justice from CSULB and CSUF, respectively. She has a family background in law enforcement and started out as an intern at OLE. Her passions include sports and the protection of the environment, and she is a big animal lover. The presentation will include an introduction of OLE, its operations, the main regulations enforced, and an OLE case example.

     
  TUESDAY
SEP 30, 2008
Monthly ACS Lecture
IN DEFENSE OF DOLPHINS: THE NEW MORAL FRONTIER by Thomas I. White, Director of the Center for Ethics and Business at Loyola Marymount University

In Defense of Dolphins book coverIn his new book In Defense of Dolphins: The New Moral Frontier, philosopher Thomas White argues that the scientific evidence is now strong enough to support the claim that dolphins are, like humans, self-aware, intelligent beings with emotions, personalities and the capacity to control their actions. Accordingly, White argues, dolphins should be regarded as "nonhuman persons" and valued as individuals. White also concludes that, from an ethical perspective, the injury, deaths and captivity of dolphins at the hands of humans are wrong. Looking at everything from the structure of the dolphin brain, to cetacean emotional abilities and social intelligence, and the implications of the fact that humans and dolphins have dramatically different evolutionary histories, In Defense of Dolphins explores the idea that, in the person of dolphins, humans have truly encountered an "alien intelligence."

Thomas I. White, Ph.D., is the Conrad N. Hilton Professor in Business Ethics and Director of the Center for Ethics and Business at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. The author of five books and numerous articles on topics ranging from sixteenth-century Renaissance humanism to business ethics, Professor White is a Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics in the United Kingdom and an Ambassador for the United Nations’ Year of the Dolphin program. He is also is a Scientific Advisor to the Wild Dolphin Project, a research organization studying a community of Atlantic spotted dolphins in the Bahamas.

Read: Interview with Dr. Thomas White at the Los Angeles Loyolan and a press release about Dr. Thomas White.

     
    2007-2008 LECTURE ARCHIVES
     
  TUESDAY
MAY 27, 2008
Monthly ACS Lecture
Gray Whale Population Status and Distribution
by Wayne Perryman, NMFS Protected Resources Division
Supervisory Research Fish Biologist

Another strange gray whale watching season in Southern California is coming to an end. The whales were late, there seemed to be fewer whales and there were very few calves. After recovering from heavy exploitation, the Eastern Pacific gray whale population has steadily increased, culminating with its removal form the Endangered Species Act list in 1994. Six years later, the gray whale population suddenly plummeted by one third during three seasons of high mortality and low calf production. As the numbers inch slowly upwards again, scientist have noted many new trends and behaviors. NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center biologist Wayne Perryman will update us on the recent upheavals in the gray whale population.

Wayne Perryman has been involved in developing and implementing recovery programs that led to removal of the gray whale from protection under the Endangered Species Act, and has been monitoring the population ever since. He runs the gray whale calf census at Point Piedras Blancas in Central California. He has also developed techniques to count and measure marine mammals from the air, and has used the to assess the health of the migrating gray whales.

     
  TUESDAY
APR 29, 2008
Monthly ACS Lecture
Whale Slumber: What studies of marine mammals tell us about sleep
by Jerry Siegel, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, UCLA Center for Sleep Research

Sleep and rest states in marine mammals differ radically from those in terrestrial mammals. Recent work indicates that some marine mammals can be continuously alert for weeks. Cetaceans do not appear to have REM sleep, the sleep state associated with dreaming in humans. This talk will discuss sleep and rest states in marine mammals, compare them to those in land mammals and discuss the implications of marine mammal sleep for sleep evolution and function.

Jerry Siegel majored in Psychology at City College of the City University of New York, and obtained his Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of Rochester. He has been a Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA since 1989 and has been teaching there since 1978. He is the director of the Siegel Lab at the Center for Sleep Research in the university's Department of Psychiatry. He has authored and co-authored a long list of publications. For more information on Dr. Siegel's work, visit his Sleep Research site.

     
  TUESDAY
MAR 25, 2008
Monthly ACS Lecture
Do you hear what I hear: Killer whale vocal development
by Jessica Crance

Killer whales are highly intelligent social learners, and communicate using
a wide range of complex vocalizations. Although these vocalizations have
been described in great detail, little is known about the vocal development of killer whales. Studies have shown that during its first year of life, a killer whale calf will preferentially learn from its mother. However, little is known about the vocal development of killer whales after this time period, and it is thought that killer whales may have a "learning window" where they reach a point in their lives where they can no longer learn new vocalizations and their repertoire of calls becomes crystallized.

Jessica Crance studied the vocalizations of the killer whales at SeaWorld
San Diego over a five-year period. In particular, she is looking at the role of social status, age, and affiliation on the vocal development of killer whales, and how their call usage changes as they age, mature, associate with different individuals, and if they can continue to learn new calls throughout life

Jessica was born and raised in Phoenix, AZ. She majored in biology at the
University of Arizona for with minors in chemistry and Spanish.  Immediately after graduating from U of A, she started at the University of San Diego as a graduate student in their Marine Science Department. She plans on graduating and defending her thesis in May. Her advisor is Dr. Ann Bowles of the Hubbs SeaWorld Research Institute.

     
 

TUESDAY
FEB 26, 2008
Monthly ACS Lecture
Living Submarines: Respiratory and cardiovascular adaptations that enable
seals to live in the marine environment
by Hrvoje Smodlaka, DVM, PhD


Seals are true deep diving champions. Some species can dive for more than
one hour and reach depths up to 1500 meters. Hrvoje Smodlaka will show how
pinniped respiratory and cardiovascular systems reveal multiple diving
adaptations that set them apart from terrestrial mammals. Adaptations of
their musculoskeletal system are more obvious to the onlooker, however
respiratory and cardiovascular systems underwent major changes in order to
meet demands of deep diving. Especially, this is true when talking about
vasculature of the seal, that shows major adaptations for diving and it is
anatomically very different than in terrestrial mammals.

Doctor Smodlaka is a Croatia native of Croatia, currently working as an
Assistant Professor at the Western University of Health Sciences, College of
Veterinary Medicine in Pomona. He graduated from the University of Zagreb,
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, with his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
degree in 1998. Subsequently he completed his PhD degree at the University
of Tennessee (2004) where he did research in marine mammal anatomy. Upon his
graduation he worked as an Assistant Professor at the University of Georgia
(2004-2006).

     
       

TUESDAY
JAN 29, 2008
Monthly ACS Guest Lecture
Altered Oceans
by Ken Weiss

   


Los Angeles Times reporter Ken Weiss discusses "Altered Oceans," a five-part series that explores how manmade stresses on the seas have not merely polluted the Earth's watery skin but altered its basic chemistry. The result: Fish, corals and marine mammals are in retreat and the ocean's most primitive life forms -- algae, bacteria and jellyfish -- are proliferating. Ken talks about the process of researching and writing the series, how he coaxed his editors to look beyond Hollywood and even Britney and allow him to focus on disturbing trends surfacing in the living oceans.

The series has won a number of national and international awards including the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting, George Polk Award for environmental reporting, Columbia Journalism School's John B. Oakes Award, and the American Geophysical Union's Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism. It was published July-August, 2006, and remains on the web site: www.latimes.com/oceans.

Kenneth R. Weiss, a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times since 1990, focuses his coverage on coastal and marine science and policy. Before coming to the L.A. Times, Weiss spent six years in Washington, D.C., as a correspondent for newspapers owned by the New York Times and as a reporter for States News Service. Weiss was born and raised in the Southern California. He received a bachelor's degree in folklore from UC Berkeley, where he was editor of the college newspaper. Like way too many Californians, he suffers from an incurable addiction to surfing.

     
 

TUESDAY
NOV 27, 2007
THE HARBOR SEALS OF LA JOLLA: Protecting San Diego Natural Resources for future generations

by Saul Alarcon Farfan

 

In the early 1990s, harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) began using Casa Beach, also known as Children's Pool, in La Jolla as a haulout and pupping area. With coastal bluffs on one side and a 15-foot seawall on the other, there can hardly be a more ideal location to allow humans the opportunity to observe these wild animals without interfering with their natural behaviors. The site attracts an estimated 80,000 visitors a month.

Unfortunately, a small but vocal group of residents has take issue with the seals and actively tries to harass them. There have been lawsuits and confrontations on the beach as well as in the San Diego City Council for over a decade now, and the issue is far from resolved. In the meantime, volunteers from several organizations stand watch to protect the seals and educate the public.

The presentation will talk about threats to life on Earth, with special emphasis on coastal ecosystems and the connection between terrestrial and ocean ecosystems. The presentation will use pinnipeds with an emphasis on San Diego harbor seals as a case study.

WiLDCOAST Wildlands Conservation Program Manager Saul Alarcon Farfan received a M.S. in Natural Resource Management and a Graduate Certificate in Spatial Analysis and Geographic Information Systems from the University of Michigan. Saul has worked on natural resource issues for the U.S. and Mexican government on both sides of the border. Before taking his current position, Saul worked with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Jones & Stokes as a biological consultant.

San Diego Coastal Habitats Coalition volunteers Ellen Shively and Cindy Benner will assist Saul with the presentation.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHER: Francois Gohier

World renowned photographer, author and naturalist Francois Gohier will share some of his photos and stories of encounters with marine mammals all over the world.

Francois Gohier, who has lived in San Diego, California, since 1988, grew up in the Basque Country in Southwest France where he developed an interest for nature and photography while hiking and climbing in the Pyrenees.

While sailing in the Gulf of California in 1977, Francois met Dr. Theodore Walker, a Pacific Gray whale specialist, and later joined him on trips to Laguna San Ignacio. Since then, Francois has returned to Baja California almost every winter. He has photographed whales and dolphins along the coasts of North and South America, Australia, and Europe.

Francois has written several books on whales both in the US and France. Over the years, his photographs of marine mammals have illustrated magazine stories and field guides.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

SEA OTTERS ABOUND IN THE HARBOR: Exploitation and recovery of California’s smallest sea mammal
by Lilian Carswell

Sea otters once lived in coastal waters along the North Pacific rim, from Japan to Baja California. After being hunted to the brink of extinction, they have been protected since 1911. The California sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) has recovered in part of its historic range, but still faces formidable obstacles. While the 2007 spring survey tallied 3026 animals, the highest count so far, the two previous years actually showed declines.

Lilian Carswell will cover the California sea otter evolution and history to its outlook in the future. She will also address the amazing adaptations that that allow it to be the most aquatic member of the scientific Order Carnivora and its role in the ecosystem. She will cover the efforts being made to study and manage the species, the significant threats it still faces, its role as a sentinel species and the prospects of sharing their environment closely with humans.

For the past several years, Lilian Carswell has worked as a biologist for recovery of the threatened southern sea otter, and she is currently the Southern Sea Otter Recovery and Marine Conservation Coordinator for the US Fish and Wildlife Service. She is also completing a Master’s degree in ecology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, with Dr. James Estes, focusing on sea otter demography.

Lilian grew up in Huntington Beach, California, and graduated from UC Berkeley with a double major in Environmental Science and English. She went to graduate school at Columbia University in New York City, spent a year teaching American literature at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, and ultimately completed a PhD in American Literature. Her dissertation was on representations of animals in late-19th century American literature and focused on the influence of Darwinian ideas on these representations. Since then, however, Lilian has returned to biology out of a desire to study the animals themselves.

She has surveyed for threatened and endangered northwest US forest species in Washington, conserved Kemp’s ridley sea turtles in Texas, tracked red wolves in Florida, and worked on island fox recovery issues in California. She has participated in studies of cetacean abundance and ecology off British Columbia and Alaska and in the waters of the Pacific Islands. Most recently, she spent six weeks on Bering Island in Russia studying sea otter demography and ecology.

While the experience of wildness is her greatest source of joy, she believes that threatened species should be preserved not merely for human benefit but for the sake of their own future generations and the ecosystems that they sustain.


     

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