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“Everyone knows bottlenose dolphins are smart. But why are they smart?” – April 29th at Saylor’s Restaurant

When: 
Tuesday April 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

Pamela S. Turner:

Everyone knows bottlenose dolphins are smart. But why are they smart?

p turner1The answer to that question can’t be found in a concrete tank. If you want to know why dolphins are smart, you must ask: What is happening in the dolphins’ natural environment? Why does a dolphin need to be smart?

Please join us for a presentation by science writer Pamela Turner, author of the new book THE DOLPHINS OF SHARK BAY. Shark Bay, Western Australia is the most important bottlenose dolphin study site in the world, and Pamela will bring us the story of GeorgetownUniversity professor Janet Mann and the Shark Bay Dolphin Project. Research in SharkBay has resulted in one stunning discovery after another, such as fiendishly sophisticated alliances among male dolphins and astonishing innovations in feeding techniques by female dolphins, including beaching, shell-shaking, and tool use. This special event that is sure to inspire future scientists as well as dolphin-lovers of all ages.

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“The Golden Shore – California’s Love Affair with the Sea” May 20th at Bay Model Visitor Center

When:   Tuesday May 20, 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 

David Helvarg   “The Golden Shore – California’s Love Affair with the Sea”

David Helvarg - Golden Shore

The Golden Shore has also been named one of the ’10 Best Literary Travel Books of 2013′ by Booklist, the magazine of the American Library Association.

The Pacific Ocean significantly defined California’s storied history, from the San FranciscoBay to Monterrey to San Diego. Helvarg will discuss how Californians have related to the Pacific over time through commerce, national defense, energy and exploration. Helvarg will trace California’s progress from a late maritime frontier where people exploited and polluted the ocean to a world leader in coastal protection, marine science, innovation and wildlife restoration, and will discuss how – or if – the modern California model for living well by the sea can be exported around the world. In addition to being an award-winning author, Helvarg is the founder of the ocean conservation group Blue Frontier.   Continue reading

“Physical-Biological Interactions of Harbor Porpoise Habitat in San Francisco Bay”- June 24th at Saylor’s Restaurant

When: 
Tuesday June 24, 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 

ggcr porpoiseLaura Duffy:  “Physical-Biological Interactions of Harbor Porpoise Habitat in San Francisco Bay”

Harbor Porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) are a small cetacean that inhabit multiple areas along the Pacific Coast. Historically, population studies have primarily been based on aerial surveys and post-mortem data. Golden Gate Cetacean Research began observing these animals up close in San Francisco Bay in 2008, studying their behavior and identifying individuals. Laura is the first graduate student to work with the nonprofit organization, and will investigate how porpoises use chemical and physical aspects of their surroundings in relation to tide flux in San Francisco Bay Estuary. The goal of her study is to produce a fine-scale habitat model, to make biological predictions based on field observations and physical patterns. Laura recognizes wildlife populations as important environmental indicators of ecosystem history, mechanics, and health. She does not only want to protect these populations, but really strives to scientifically comprehend why it is important to do so. Her research will help improve knowledge on environmental state of the Bay, its ecological significance to surrounding areas, and add scientific significance to pre-existing public conservation awareness. Continue reading

“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

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