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“The Role of Dive and Foraging Behaviors in Ship Strikes” July 29th at Saylor’s Restaurant

When: 
Tuesday July 29, 2014 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Where:  
Saylor’s Restaurant (upstairs Cabo Wabo room)
2009 Bridgeway
Sausalito, CA 94965

Cost:    $5 Donation goes toward Student Research Grants 

Angela Szesciorka  “The Role of Dive and Foraging Behaviors in Ship Strikes” 

A.Szesciorka Vessel & Whale

Like foraging marine animals, humans rely disproportionately on productive coastal areas created by upwelling. Particularly sensitive cetaceans are vulnerable to anthropogenic inputs when they converge with human activities. These inputs range from contaminants and toxins to entanglement in marine debris and noise, which affects communication, causes hearing loss and displacement, and even causes mass stranding. The most direct interaction between humans and whales occurs when a ship physically strikes a whale. Off the west coast of the United States, blue, fin, humpback, and gray whale deaths are linked to ship strikes annually. In 2007 after four blue whale deaths were attributed to ship strikes, conservation groups began pushing for greater protection. Researchers analyzed the overlap between whale habitat and ship traffic, prompting an amendment to the major shipping lanes off San Francisco and Santa Barbara in June. Despite initial measures, ship strikes continue, and many questions remain about the behavior of whales in shipping lanes, how behaviors increase the risk of ship strikes, and how ships affect behavior. From August to October we tagged 12 whales in the major shipping lanes off San Francisco with time-depth-GPS tags. By pairing geospatial locations of whales and ships with behavior, we can assess close encounters and determine if the presence of ships directly affects behavior. And by examining whale dive parameters (dive type, descent and ascent speed, dive duration, dive depth, and surface time) with respect to whale group composition and size, age class, sex, prey layer, ship presence, and time of day, we can characterize whale dive and foraging behaviors in and around shipping lanes to understand which factors put them most at risk of potentially fatal ship strikes. Continue reading

“Cocos Island National Park, Costa Rica: An Underwater Serengetti” – August 26th at Saylor’s Restaurant

When: 
Tuesday August 26, 2014 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Where:  
Saylor’s Restaurant (upstairs Cabo Wabo room)
2009 Bridgeway
Sausalito, CA 94965

Cost:    $5 Donation goes toward Student Research Grants 

Todd Steiner:  Cocos Island National Park, Costa Rica: An Underwater Serengetti

todd-Nonie Silver, SeaTurtles.org - Copy

Jacques Cousteau called CocosIsland “the most beautiful in the world.”  Located about halfway between Costa Rica and Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands, it is the only island in the eastern Pacific Ocean supporting tropical rainforest.

What I found underwater, though, was much more impressive.  “Megafauna” — large-bodied species — congregate around the island. Its relative isolation, ocean countercurrents, wind patterns, and underwater seamounts combine to create an ecosystem that supports one of the most amazing displays of marine life on the planet. The sheer abundance of large animals underwater found at one place was unfathomable for me before I visited Cocos.

I will share the beauty of Cocos through photography, what we are learning about the importance of CocosIsland for sea turtles and sharks, and what needs to be done to protect these species at Cocos and during their migrations to and from Cocos.  I will also describe our Cocos Island Citizen Scientist program that is involving divers in collecting data and assisting us on our research expeditions. Continue reading

Take the plunge into the underwater world beyond the Golden Gate into the Gulf of the Farallones: September 30th at Bay Model

When: 
September 30, 2014 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Where:  Bay Model Visitor Center    2100 Bridgeway,  Sausalito, CA 94965

Cost:
$5 Donation goes toward Student Research Grants

Mary Jane Schramm

Take the plunge into the underwater world beyond the Golden Gate into the Gulf of the Farallones

farallonesBlubber-Lovers Unite! Take the plunge into the underwater world beyond the Golden Gate into the Gulf of the Farallones, where dolphins leap, white sharks prowl, giant blue whales lunge through seething masses of krill, humpbacks breach and land with a thundering splash, and where seabirds enact their timeless rituals of courtship and mating. Discover where the “hot spots” are for the many of the whale species that visit this National Marine Sanctuary year-round, and – whether you are a confirmed land-lubber or salty dog, find out how you can experience them!

Join sanctuary spokesperson Mary Jane Schramm for this virtual excursion into the briny deep! Co-author of West Coast Whale Watching (Harper Collins), MJ has led whale watching cruises in Baja California and locally. Her field experience includes cetacean and pinniped rescue, and assisting with research on humpbacks,  elephant seals, and other marine mammals. MJ is currently Public Information Officer for NOAA’s Large Whale Disentanglement Network in the Bay Area. Continue reading

New Science on California Orcas – October 28th at Bay Model

When: 
October 28, 2014 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Where:  Bay Model Visitor Center    2100 Bridgeway,  Sausalito, CA 94965

Cost:
$5 Donation goes toward Student Research Grants

Sarah Allen

New Science on California Orcas

s. allenWhile killer whales are found in all of the world’s oceans, their lives in the wild are poorly understood, in part because there are tremendous differences between different groups of orcas. Though the species range spans the globe from pole to pole, individual orcas belong to regional ecological groups, called ecotypes that have distinct ranges and behaviors. Scientists recognize at least 10 ecotypes for the species worldwide, three of which can be found off California: Southern Resident, Transient, and Offshore. 

Sarah will delve into the different killer whale “ecotypes” that regularly visit the waters of central California and how the Marine Mammal Stranding Network (a group of agencies, organizations and volunteers) retrieved an entire killer whale skeleton for display at the California Academy of Sciences for their “Built for Speed” exhibit.  Continue reading

Dramatic 24-hour Gray Whale Disentanglement off Laguna Beach, CA

Capt. Dave and his wife, Gisele, were headed to dinner with friends Friday evening at 5:30 PM when they received a call from one of their whale watching boats that a whale with a huge amount of gillnet wrapped around its tail flukes had been spotted. They quickly abandoned their plans and headed to Dana Point Harbor where they met up with volunteer members of Capt. Dave’s crew, Tom Southern, Mark Tyson and Steve Plantz and headed out in their whale watching boat to see the entangled whale and attempt to help it before it got dark. Continue reading