Past 2015 Presentations

22January 27, 2015

Jeremy Goldbogen: The Ultimate Mouthful: Lunge-feeding in Rorqual Whales

Some of the largest baleen whales—such as blue whales, fin whales and humpbacks—fall into a family called rorquals that use an unusual method of feeding. These whales feed on aggregations of zooplankton and fish by lunging with their mouths open wide to tremendous gape angles to force huge volumes of water and prey into their expandable oral cavities. 

This extreme lunge feeding strategy is facilitated by some of the most bizarre anatomical adaptations, many of which are completely unique among mammals. This talk will present anatomical and behavioral data that help us understand how the largest vertebrates ever subsist on the smallest food.

Biography: Jeremy Goldbogen is a comparative physiologist who studies the integrative biology of marine organisms. He started his research career studying the biomechanics of locomotion in hummingbirds and Antarctic sea butterflies (pteropods) as an undergraduate student at the University of Texas at Austin. Jeremy then completed a M.Sc. degree in marine biology from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California – San Diego. He later moved on to earn his Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, with a thesis titled “Mechanics and energetics of rorqual lunge feeding”. He returned to Scripps as a postdoctoral researcher for one year before joining the Cascadia Research Collective in Olympia, WA for two years. He is now Assistant Professor of Biology at Stanford University, located at the Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove, CA.

February 24, 2015

SPECIAL EVENT: Producers Rick Wood and Shari Macy present the documentary film “FRAGILE WATERS”

There’s one chance to save the Southern Resident killer whales from extinction and that moment is right now.

Blaine residents and documentary filmmakers Rick Wood and Shari Macy teamed-up with Orca Network to create a groundbreaking documentary film about the resident orcas, Chinook salmon and the environment they live in.

The film tells the untold story about the decline of both the killer whales and Chinook salmon in the Salish Sea. Through interviews with the world’s leading orca experts, fishermen, hatchery Brief Synopsis:

One of the most-endangered groups of killer whales faces the biggest challenge to their survival: Extinction at the hands of apathy.

“Fragile Waters” takes a multi-pronged approach to spotlighting the people currently working to save both Southern Resident Killer Whales and wild Chinook salmon and prevent an ecological disaster unrivalled in modern times.

From a whale-poop-sniffing dog to barcodes on salmon fry, no part of the story is as simple as it might seem.

Will overfishing, dams, pollution, ship traffic or climate change tip the delicate balance and spell the end for both the Southern Resident orcas and Chinook salmon? “Fragile Waters” not only defines the adversities but also outlines the hope that is alive and well in the many people fighting to save them.
There will be a Q&A session after the screening of the film. For full details and short trailer on this important film go to their website:

About the Producers:  The film is produced by Orca Network, which is best-known for their work in orca conservation and education, and is a non-profit organization.  “Fragile Waters” is a non-commercial project, and was filmed entirely by volunteers.

About the Directors:

Rick Wood is an award-winning newspaper journalist, author and filmmaker, whose previous documentaries focused on sea turtles and manatees.

Shari Macy has a background in television reporting/producing, is an artist and member of Skeetchestn Indian Band, Shuswap Nation.

March 31, 2015

Todd Steiner – SEA TURTLES: Ancient, Gentle Creatures of the Sea! Are Sea Turtles the Oldest Living Vertebrates?  Largest Reptile on Earth? Have the Longest Migration?  Are Found Off the Bay Area coast?

Learn about the fascinating life of sea turtles and how these species have swam into some of the biggest environmental issues facing the survival of our planet in the past 25 years.  Turtle Island Restoration Network, headquartered in Marin, has been at the forefront of the fight to protect these species and our oceans.  Todd Steiner, the founder and executive director of Turtle Island will delight with you with facts about these amazing creatures and tell you how you too can become a Sea Turtle Hero!


Todd Steiner, M.S., Executive Director, Turtle Island Restoration Network
Todd Steiner is the founder and executive director of Turtle Island Restoration Network (TIRN), overseeing its four primary initiatives –,, and He holds a masters degree in Biology and currently leads research on sea turtles and sharks at Cocos Island National Park, Costa Rica. Todd initially founded the Sea Turtle Restoration Project as part of Earth Island Institute in 1989. Prior to that, he worked as a wildlife biologist at Everglades National Park then was director of Earth Island’s Save the Dolphin project, which was responsible for bringing to public view the tuna industry’s impact on dolphins and other marine species and. He has more than 30 years experience protecting and restoring endangered species and habitats. Todd currently serves as a member of IUCN (World Conservation Union) Marine Turtle Specialist Group, Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council, NOAA-DFG Priority Action Coho Team Technical Working Group, and the Lagunitas Creek Technical Advisory Committee.

April 28th, 2015

Michael Carver:  “Come learn how your smart device can make you a Savvy Citizen Science Steward”

Come learn about two new smart phone applications and how sightings that you contribute is being used to protect endangered whales. In tonight’s talk you will learn how you can help! We will show you how to download the new apps, share your sightings, see the data, and becoming part of the solution to whale ship strikes. With the new app, you have access to identification tips and the ability to contribute sightings of whales to our collaborative national database.  NOAA armed with the most current and up-to-date information is able to work with the USCG and maritime industry so that ship speed can be reduced when large aggregations of whales are in the area. Whale Alert an unprecedented collaboration of government, private sector and non-profit advocates  combines science and computer technology to provide mariners with the best possible tool for reporting sightings of whales and receiving whale management and conservation information, thereby providing whales with the best chance of survival. The app enables mariners and concerned citizens on both coaststo help agencies take more immediate, additional actions to protect whales. Whales in U.S. waters and worldwide face growing threats including deadly ship strikes. NOAA uses this citizen science data to compliment traditional rigorous seasonal surveys. The value of the app is that it extends that geography and time that observation data are collected. Whale Alert can be downloaded free to your iPad or iPhone, or other smartphone device. Working in coordination with the Coast Guard and the maritime industry, NOAA is able to request ships slow down in those locations where whales are present in significant numbers. Come learn how to use the app so you can contribute sightings to this National network of observations to reach the shared goal of furthering protection for endangered whales.

Jaime Jahncke Ph.D:  “Whales off the Golden Gate

Humpback and blue whale hotspots in Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuaries. The rich ocean environment off the San Francisco Bay region supplies abundant food for whales, porpoises, and other wildlife that migrate here from across the Pacific. These same waters are the site of major shipping lanes, with increasing traffic over recent years resulting in multiple whale strikes.

Point Blue Conservation Science is collaborating with NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuaries to identify humpback and blue whale hotspots and provide recommendations to better protect whales off California and the US West Coast. To learn more our research on the Sanctuaries visit the Applied California Current Studies (ACCESS) website.

In addition, Point Blue and partners developed and implemented  Whale Alert – West Coast to use science, innovative technology, and collaborative community effort to decrease ship strikes to whales.  A key component of this effort is the use of downloadable apps, Whale Alert 2.0 and Spotter Pro, by nature lovers, fishers, and mariners.  With these user-friendly applications, it is possible for just about anyone to report whale sightings.

Data collected through these apps by citizens and professionals helps NOAA fill in the information gap needed to request the U.S. Coast Guard’s Vessel Traffic Service to ask ship operators to slow down or change course as they approach areas where whales are present.


Michael Carver is the Deputy Superintendent of Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary.  Michael received his B.S in Natural Resource Management from North Carolina State University.  Michael has been working with NOAA since 2000. Michael started the sanctuaries at sea monitoring program now in its 11th year of operation.  Michael’s responsibilities include overseeing enforcement, permitting, contracting, planning, and management actions to address threats to the marine environment of the Sanctuary.  Michael also supports field operations and runs the sanctuary’s remotely operated vehicle.  Since 5 whales were confirmed killed by ship strike in 2010 Michael has worked with partner agencies, industry, and the NGO community to address the issue.

Jaime Jahncke Ph.D is the Director of the California Current Group at Point Blue Conservation Science.  My group works to advance marine conservation and management in the California Current by conducting research and developing tools to inform climate adaptation, marine spatial planning and ecosystem based management approaches. Our goal is to conserve the integrity of the marine ecosystem to help ensure healthy populations of marine top predators and sustainable uses for humans.

Whale Alert West Coast Brochure

May 26, 2015:  Thomas R. Kieckhefer, M.Sc.:   Can the Vaquita be Saved?

The vaquita (Phocoena sinus) of Mexico’s Gulf of California is the most endangered cetacean in the world. This tiny porpoise is in immediate danger of extinction, due to gillnet mortality. In 1978 the IUCN redlisted the vaquita as Vulnerable, in 1990 as Endangered, and in 1996 as Critically Endangered. What has taken so long to save them? One of the big problems is that very few people know what a vaquita is and even fewer are aware of its plight. This beautiful and unique porpoise, often referred to as the “Panda of the Sea,” must be saved. This talk will discuss the trials and tribulations of trying to study and photograph these shy porpoise over the years, and go over past/current research and conservation efforts designed to save this species from extinction.

With your help, we can Save The Vaquita!!! Spread the word about the vaquita and please visit: and, to learn more about what you can do to help them.


Tom Kieckhefer received his Master’s Degree in Marine Science through Moss Landing Marine Laboratories/San Jose State University in 1992. His thesis was on the feeding ecology of humpback whales in continental shelf waters near Cordell Bank, CA. He has over 30 years of research/education experience in the marine mammal field. He currently works as an Outreach Instructor & Program Developer for Save The Whales and ¡VIVA Vaquita!. His special interests are the study of marine ecology, bioacoustics, predator-prey relationships, and educating the public about marine mammals, their environment and their preservation.

June 30th 2015: Cara Gallagher:  “Estimating Energy Sequestration and Outflow by the Harbor Porpoise, Phocoena phocoena”

Harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) were known to frequent San Francisco Bay (SF Bay) historically, but WWII activities in the 1940s caused them to retreat to coastal waters outside of the Golden Gate. Harbor porpoises remained absent from SF Bay for over 65 years, until 2008, when they began their return. They are currently visiting SF Bay on a daily basis and in increasing numbers. Golden Gate Cetacean Research has monitored the reintroduction of harbor porpoises into SF Bay and, using photo identification, the population has been estimated at around 650 individuals. Since these porpoises are still spending the majority of their lives outside of the Bay, and are more likely to defecate and expire in coastal waters, the majority of the energy obtained within SF Bay is transported to coastal waters. Cara is investigating the potential amount of energy removed by these porpoises from SF Bay waters and transferred to the coast on a daily basis. As returning predators in SF Bay, it is important to place porpoises back into the context of the SF Bay food web. This will provide information on the top-down effects on SF Bay, information that is currently missing from the complete picture of energy flow and nutrient cycling.

Biography:  Cara Gallagher is a Master’s candidate at San Francisco State University’s Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies. She is currently working with Golden Gate Cetacean Research on the San Francisco Bay harbor porpoise project. Cara has had a love for the ocean and marine mammals since she was young and has always pursued a path geared towards ocean conservation. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in 2013 at California State University East Bay where her undergraduate research focused on sea slug physiology. This research led her to work at the Friday Harbor marine lab on San Juan Island for 3 summers, where she also conducted a harbor porpoise project. She has completed numerous volunteer projects and internships, such as an Oceans Research internship in South Africa where she gained skills in studying marine predators, such as great white sharks, humpback dolphins and right whales.

During her undergraduate degree, Cara served as President of the Student Coalition of the American Cetacean Society’s SF Bay Chapter. Through her work with the San Francisco Bay American Cetacean Society chapter, Cara was afforded the opportunity to give numerous presentations on marine conservation issues and cetacean physiology/evolution, as well as organizing events such as beach cleanups, wetland restorations, and tabling on campus. Cara sees the importance in the symbiotic relationship between research and outreach. She plans on continuing her education after her Master’s by pursuing a doctorate degree in cetacean energetic research, in particular the energetic costs associated with behaviors that are anthropogenically induced. After receiving her doctorate, Cara would like to remain in academia in order to continue her research as well as teach future generations the importance of marine conservation.

July 28th 2015: Dr. Claire Simeon: “Investigating the role of marine morbilliviruses in cetacean strandings near San Francisco Bay”

Cetacean morbilliviruses have the potential to cause explosive outbreaks with high mortality, and have emerged as the cause of die-offs of striped dolphins in the Mediterranean, harbor porpoises in the UK and Netherlands, and bottlenose dolphins along the U.S. Atlantic coast. Interestingly, large-scale mortality has not been documented in the Pacific Ocean as it has in the Atlantic, even though evidence of morbilliviral infection has been detected in animals in the Pacific. Since 2000, the Marine Mammal Center has responded to nearly 500 cetaceans along the rescue range, and a small percentage of those animals have post-mortem findings that are characteristic of a viral disease such as morbillivirus. The ACS San Francisco Bay Student Research Grant has allowed us to test tissues for the presence of morbillivirus, to determine whether this virus may be playing a role in strandings along the California coast.

Biography:  Dr. Claire Simeone
is a Conservation Medicine Veterinarian with The Marine Mammal Center (TMMC) in Sausalito, and National Marine Fisheries Service Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program. In addition to providing clinical care to the marine mammals undergoing rehabilitation at TMMC, she also responds to Unusual Mortality Events, provides veterinary support for field projects across the country, and works on a variety of research projects. She also coordinates the International Veterinary In-Residence training program, which brings marine mammal veterinarians from around the world to train at TMMC for 3 months in medicine, anesthesia, necropsy, and collaborative research.

Podcast “You’re the Expert” is a radio show that combines science and comedy, where three comedians try to guess what an expert does all day:

August 25, 2015: Katherina Audley: The Whales of Guerrero Research Project

The Whales of Guerrero Research Project advances marine science in an ecologically-sensitive region of Mexico, which supports many large marine wildlife species, and provides sustainable economic benefits to impoverished local residents through education, ecotourism and capacity building.

We work with Mexican agencies and universities to educate coastal residents about the value of their richly diverse ecosystem. Our approach respects local perspectives by using the cultural lenses of the community, instilling a sense of stewardship via meaningful education, arts, and conservation programs. We use humpback whales as a highly visible exemplar and entrance point to our conversations about marine wildlife.

Historically, local mariners were hostile toward marine mammals, viewing them as dangerous to boat traffic and as competitors for diminishing fish resources, while non-sea-going residents were barely aware of marine wildlife. In the last two years, we have improved local attitudes, and encouraged locals to embrace wildlife ecotourism as an economic boost to their livelihoods.

Our continuing objectives are to:
*  Conduct a community-driven research study of humpback whales and dolphins, with the assistance of local mariners, schools and community members who share sightings of marine mammals, and in partnership with visiting scientists and educators.
* Provide opportunities for Mexican graduate students to conduct marine conservation research, by supporting costs of research, lodging, and professional development.
* Train fishermen and boaters to offer informed, responsible ecosystem tours, with emphasis on sustainability and vessel best practices around marine mammals.
* Cultivate an interest in marine conservation through a variety of educational programs for all ages.Biography:  Project director, Katherina Audley, has been participating in whale studies and counts for over sixteen years. Formal marine mammal projects include a boat/whale interaction study at Robson Bight in British Columbia in 2003 and annual whale counts on the Oregon Coast and Hawaii. Katherina has a lot of boat moxie. She has worked as a commercial fisherman in Bristol Bay, Alaska, owns and captains a small boat in Oregon and has spent thousands of hours on the water, mostly in the interest of marine mammals. A consistent open water SCUBA diver since 2002, Katherina is as happy underwater as she as when she is on it.

Katherina is more than just a whale researcher. Having spent five years working as a researcher, data collector and project evaluator in the Research and Evaluation department at The Exploratorium, a prestigious science museum located in San Francisco, Katherina is experienced with data collection, interviewing, study design and data analysis. Today she keeps up on her spreadsheet and report writing skills by assembling monthly and quarterly reports for web and business clients. An entrepreneur, web developer, graphic designer, writer, search engine optimization and marketing specialist and project manager with over 19 years of experience, Katherina has helped dozens of businesses, large and small, start up, grow, increase visibility and thrive and has organized and overseen groups of people on all organizational levels. As a travel writer and photographer, Katherina is known for her ability to connect, communicate and inspire. She is a frequent contributor to The Oregonian’s Travel section, Oregon Coast Magazine and Northwest Travel and has also published her work in MSN Local, Bing Travel, VIA Magazine, Bark Magazine, The Sun, Orion online, The San Francisco Chronicle and a number of anthologies. Her stories about Playa Blanca and El Refugio de Potosi – located within this study region – published in The Oregonian, generated a notable increase in tourism for the area in 2013.

Katherina has traveled to over 25 countries and lived in five. She has spent a total of at least three years in Mexico and knows and loves this country the best. Barra de Potosi holds a special place for Katherina as several members of her family, including her parents, own property within two miles of Barra de Potosi. She has been visiting the area for over 15 years, was married on the beach (during whale season, of course) and has maintained meaningful relationships with people in the village as well with members of the expat community over the years. She lived in Spain, Argentina and Bolivia for extended periods of time and has been studying and speaking Spanish for 25 years.

Barra de Potosi and Playa Blanca is the place in Mexico that Katherina is the most passionate about she believes this whale project will help to protect it. She is committed to combining and applying her talents to this region and this project in order to help the local people and the place they live in to thrive.


August 27, 2015 Izzy Sczcepaniak: Whales, whales, and more whales! 

Why are we seeing so many whales from our beautiful Pacifica shores? Blow after blow; lunge after lunge; breach after breach—it’s been an awesome sight for animal-lovers! What kind of whales are they and what are they doing here? SF Bay American Cetacean Society is honored to present an evening of learning about these majestic creatures. Long-time Pacifica resident and whale expert Izzy Sczcepaniak will help us understand what we are observing AND will address the disturbing sight of dead whales on our beaches.

If you missed the presentation go to:


Izzy has been studying the harbor porpoise population off the local coast for over 40 years.  His master’s thesis was on “Abundance, Dstribution, and Natural History of Harbor Porpoise in the Gulf of the Farallones.”  He has conducted research on humpback whales in California and Costa Rica, and on bottlenose dolphins in Belize. He has worked as a naturalist for the Oceanic Society since 1982 and has taught classes on marine mammals at San Francisco State University and the California Academy of Sciences. He is one of the marine mammal biologists of the Golden Gate Cetacean Research team.

Moe Flannery

September 29, 2015: Dead Whales Do Tell Tales – What we learn from post-mortem examinations and museum specimens

As a member of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network, the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, along with the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, responds to any dead whale that washes up along the coast between the Sonoma/Mendocino county line and the San Mateo/Santa Cruz county line. Each carcass offers scientists the opportunity to learn about the health of whale populations and the threats that they face. By performing necropsies in the field, scientists collect valuable data about whale migration patterns, habitat threats, human impacts, and geographic distribution that help to inform critical conservation decisions and scientific research. Moe Flannery, Ornithology and Mammalogy Collection Manager, will share some of the stories uncovered during recent whale post-mortem exams along our local coastlines.


Moe Flannery M.S., Ornithology and Mammalogy Collection Manager, California Academy of Sciences

As the Ornithology and Mammalogy Collection Manager at the California Academy of Sciences, Moe Flannery, manages over 140,000 bird and mammal specimens for scientific research. These specimens originate from all parts of the globe and range in size from an 80’ blue whale skeleton to tiny hummingbird eggs. Of particular note is the Academy’s marine mammal collection, which includes the world’s largest collection of California sea lion specimens. Moe serves as Principal Investigator on several grants supporting work with the Marine Mammal Stranding Network. In that capacity, she directs field collecting of marine mammal specimens along 165 miles of California coastline. She is also the lead researcher on a CT-scan study of intracranial parasites in dolphins and porpoises. The Academy’s work with cetaceans is highlighted in the new exhibit Whales: Giants of the Deep running April 3 throughNovember 29, 2015.

Moe received her M.S. in Ecology and Systematic Biology from San Francisco State University, studying the co-speciation between quill mites and their bird hosts. She holds a B.A. in Asian Studies from Dartmouth College.

Maren Anderson

October 27th: View Into Vocalizations

For the last 15 years, Cetos Research Organization has used underwater videography with a variety of recording set-ups that allow us to capture both video and sounds in our studies of Hawaiian humpback whales. While collecting data on sounds and behaviors, we also, when possible, obtain photo identification of humpbacks, and collect annual song samples by tracking and recording singers. Our priority is the social sounds and underwater behaviors of different humpback groups.

In the 2015 field season, Cetos focused on using non-invasive suction cup tagging on mothers, calves, escorts, and competitive males, in order to track movements and acoustics both above and below water. These tags have ability to take in acoustic information as well as positional movement underwater. Join Maren to hear about using their current research to understand Hawaiian humpback whales on a new level, as well as give a sneak peak into a current publication underway on calf susceptibility to ship strikes.


Maren Anderson began her love of Marine Science in high school when she was certified to SCUBA dive in Belize. Since then, her passion has continued in her studies and her work. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from University of Colorado at Boulder, in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology with a focus in Tropical Marine Ecology in 2007. During her studies, she performed health assessments of coral reefs in the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and Pacific Oceans. Upon graduation, she worked with coral and marine ecosystem conservation at Disney World’s Living Seas exhibit as an education specialist, diver and marine mammal research assistant. She assisted in cognitive research of Atlantic bottlenose dolphin as well as the rehabilitation of West Indian manatees. Maren joined Cetos Research in 2012 as a research assistant for the Humpback Behavior Project focusing on the interactions between mother and calf pairs. Maren has participated in vessel- and land-based visual and acoustic towed array surveys, and assessing the abundance, density and distribution of marine mammals. These included locations such as Hawaii, the Mariana Islands, and the California coast, where she has studied pilot whales, spinner and bottlenose dolphins, Risso’s dolphins, beaked whales, harbor porpoise, California sea lions and harbor seals. She has served as visual observer and assistant acoustics team member on these surveys. On land, Maren serves as a research assistant and consultant for various government agencies in managing marine resources, specifically in marine mammals and coral. She also works as a high school teacher at Drew School in San Francisco, teaching Genetics, Evolution, and Marine Biology; and is the Director of Experiential Education programs for her school.