Past 2016 Presentations

January 26, 2016

David Neiwert: Of Orcas and Men – What Killer Whales Can Teach Us

Accompanied by photos and sounds, David Neiwert talks about the often-fraught relationship between humans and killer whales, what we’ve learned about these creatures in the last fifty years, and why we now know they deserve not just our awe but our deep respect. In the end, he makes the case for ending their captivity, and for saving our wild populations.

Biography: David Neiwert is a an investigative journalist based in Seattle and the author of several books, including And Hell Followed With Her: Crossing the Dark Side of the American Border,which won the International Latino Book Award for nonfiction. He is also a contributing writer for the Southern Poverty Law Center.


February 23, 2016

Golden Gate Cetacean Research Organization:  The Porpoises and Dolphins of the San Francisco Bay Area

Golden Gate Cetacean Research biologists, Jon Stern, Bill Keener and Izzy Szczepaniak, will present the results of their newest research on the porpoises and dolphins of San Francisco Bay, providing an up-to-date since their last talk for ACS in 2012.  The team has been studying two species, harbor porpoises and bottlenose dolphins, from shore and boat for the past 6 years.

The team has compiled the first photo-identification catalogs for harbor porpoises and the San Francisco Bay bottlenose dolphins, giving us a window into the lives of individual animals. They will share their observations about the unexpected return of harbor porpoises to the Bay, and the appearance of bottlenose dolphins off our coast.  Learn about changes to the Bay ecosystem that played a role in bringing back porpoises, the warm water El Niño conditions that brought bottlenose dolphins up from Southern California, and what this may mean for our coast.

Here’s your chance to find out the difference between a porpoise and a dolphin, where to see these fascinating creatures, and what you can do to help in the study of marine mammals in the Bay.

For more information, visit: www.ggcetacean.org

Biographies:

Jonathan Stern, Ph.D.

Jon is a biology professor at San Francisco State University.  He studied minke whales in the Northeast Pacific Ocean, and conducted research on killer, pilot, fin, humpback and gray whales, as well as bottlenose dolphins. He served as the Conservation Chair for the National Board of Directors for the American Cetacean Society.

 William Keener

Bill is a former Executive Director of the Marine Mammal Center in the Marin Headlands. His experience includes work as a field observer for a harbor porpoise population study in the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary conducted from 1987-1989.

Isidore Szczepaniak

Izzy has been studying cetaceans along the local coast since the mid-1970s. His Master’s work in biology at San Francisco State University focused on harbor porpoises.


March 22, 2016

The Birdman of the Farallones Islands meets The Bird Lady of Alcatraz

Join ACS for a virtual journey across the Pacific and San Francisco Bay with the birds of the sea. Gulf of the Farallons naturalist, photographer and sea bird expert Peter Winch takes us along on his recent NOAA research voyage.

Tori Seher, the National Park Service’s Alcatraz Island biologist, will discuss how the former penitentiary is providing a vital and growing seabird nesting site.
It’s one of the best places to get a close up of the once endangered Snowy Egrets, the birds whose flowing elegant plumes were once a high fashion statement. It lead to the species near extinction in the late 1800’s and fueled the establishment of the Audubon Society and one of the first conservation movements.

Peter Winch:    

Peter Winch has works as an education specialist at The Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary since 2006.  He has also lead naturalist tours to The Farallon Islands, Vancouver Island and The Dry Tortugas for Oceanic Society Expeditions for the last ten years. After graduating from Plymouth University with an honors degree in Environmental Science in 1986, Peter went on to work for Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in direct action campaigns in The Faroe Islands and Costa Rica.  In the 1990’s Peter worked as a seabird naturalist for US Fish and Wildlife and Island Conservation in Alaska, The North West Hawaiian Islands, Oregon and Baja Mexico. Peter currently sits on The International San Francisco Ocean Film Festival Selection Committee.  He is a surfer, diver, paddle boarder, artist and photographer. His two marine biology short films have premiered at film festivals.

Tori Seher

Tori Seher has worked for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area since 2011.  As the biologist on Alcatraz Island, she provides leadership in the protection and management of nesting bird colonies. Prior to working on Alcatraz, Tori was the Wildlife Biologist overseeing the Human-Bear Management Program in Yosemite National Park for eight years. Tori holds a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Conservation Biology from Arizona State University and is currently working on her master’s degree from San Francisco State University


April 26, 2016

Birgitte McDonald: The Diving Physiology and Capabilities of Breath-Hold Divers

The diving physiology and capabilities of breath-hold divers are crucial to their role in the ecosystem and their ability to exploit prey resources. During forced submersion, severe bradycardia (heart rate reduced to below resting) results in isolation of muscle and peripheral organs from blood flow, therby conserving blood oxygen for the heart and brain. However, with

the development of bio-loggers, studies on trained and freely diving animals indicate that this dive response’ is variable and often moderate. I will present my research investigating the dive response and oxygen management strategies in wild California sea lions and captive harbor porpoises using bio-loggers that measured blood oxygen, heart rate, and dive behavior during natural dives. I will discuss how sea lions and porpoises are able to optimize the amount of oxygen they take on a dive, and how the management of the oxygen differs depending on dive duration.

Birgitte McDonald is an assistant professor of Vertebrate Ecology at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories.  Birgitte is a physiological and behavioral ecologist, who seeks to study the whole organism, using techniques from physiological, evolutionary and behavioral biology to better understand the mechanisms that determine the ecological niche of an organism. Her research has provided opportunities to work with a broad range of species (seals, sea lions, porpoises, dolphins and penguins) in a diversity of habitats from the Antarctic to the Galapagos. She received an M.A. in Biology from Sonoma State University in 2003 and a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2009. After completion of her Ph.D. she conducted 3 years of postdoctoral research at Scripps Institution of Oceanography studying the oxygen management strategies of wild California sea lion and the physiological ecology of emperor penguins.  She then spent two years at Aarhus University in

Denmark as a National Science Foundation International Fellow investigating the diving physiology and energetics of harbor porpoises before starting her position at Moss Landing in January 2015.

The diving physiology and capabilities of breath-hold divers are crucial to their role in the ecosystem and their ability to exploit prey resources. During forced submersion, severe bradycardia (heart rate reduced to below resting) results in isolation of muscle and peripheral organs from blood flow, thereby conserving blood oxygen for the heart and brain. However, with the development of bio-loggers, studies on trained and freely diving animals indicate that this ‘dive response’ is variable and often moderate. I will present my research investigating the dive response and oxygen management strategies in wild California sea lions and captive harbor porpoises using bio-loggers that measured blood oxygen, heart rate, and dive behavior during natural dives. I will discuss how sea lions and porpoises are able to optimize the amount of oxygen they take on a dive, and how the management of the oxygen differs depending on dive duration.

 


May 24, 2016

“Sonic Sea” – SF Int’l Ocean Film Festival Environmental Award Winner!

The 60-minute film tells the story of how sound in the ocean (often coming from naval sonar and from commercial ships) is impacting whales and other marine life. Whales depend on sound to mate, to find food, to raise their young, and to defend themselves from predators. Increasing ocean noise is threatening these daily tasks of survival. The ocean has quite literally been transformed by human-made sound in the last century–and the film shows us how.

The film features oceans protection luminaries including Sylvia Earle and Jean-Michel Cousteau; experts on ocean noise (such as Chris Clark of Cornell, Leila Hatch
of NOAA, and Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research); and the performer and activist Sting, who speaks as a musician to the importance of sound. The film is co-produced by NRDC and Imaginary Forces, in association with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and Diamond Docs.  It was written by Mark Monroe (“The Cove,” “Racing Extinction”) and has a haunting score, by Grammy award-winning film composer Heitor Pereira (“Minions,” “It’s Complicated”), and a powerful soundtrack representing both ocean noise and the sounds of the sea.

In the darkness of the sea, whales depend on sound to mate, find food, migrate, raise their young, and defend against predators. Over the last century, however, human activity has transformed the ocean’s delicate acoustic habitat, challenging the ability of whales and other marine life to prosper, and ultimately to survive. SONIC SEA offers solutions and hope for a quieter ocean, and underscores that the ocean’s destiny is inextricably bound with our own. The film is narrated by Rachel McAdams and features the musician Sting, in addition to the renowned ocean experts Dr. Sylvia Earle, Dr. Paul Spong, Dr. Christopher Clark, and Jean-Michel Cousteau. 


June 29, 2016

Peter White: Mysteries of the Farallon Islands Revealed

Murder. Ship wrecks. A plane crash. A war over eggs. Great White Sharks and hundreds of species on land, sea and air. Join ACS for presentation by Peter White, author of The Farallon Islands: Sentinels of the Golden Gate, long considered the seminal book on the islands’ history. America’s love affair with the great white
shark has brought  the treacherous fog-covered Farallons into the cultural forefront once again.

Biography: Peter White, a self-described enthusiastic amateur, has studied birds, pinnipeds and sharks while volunteering for the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Point Blue, and the Audubon Society. For nine seasons, he has participated in the fall land bird migration assisting biologists in counting species. Part of the process involved catching and banding migratory birds.

Mr. White’s grew up in a military family and lived on or near Naval bases. He is currently a member of the Mount Diablo Audubon society. He and his wife have two grown children and live in Martinez.


July 27, 2016

M.J. Schramm: Sex on the Breach: A summer sizzler peeks into the reproductive practices of the oceans whales

The giants of the ocean employ a surprisingly “different strokes” approach to sex. Some
bull whales battle for their mates; some beguile with song and caress. Others may just get lucky – literally. And, where group sex is involved, “timing is everything” may apply. Size matters among certain species, but is almost irrelevant in others.

Between the sexes, mating can be consensual, when females urge males to outcompete each other in heat runs; or otherwise, where some males’ uniquely prehensile anatomy can overcome the coyest females’ evasive movements. Regardless of style — whether to battle, bully or beguile — it all enables these lusty Leviathans to pass on their genes and ensure new whale generations.

Parental Guidance Advised: The topic, and some graphic images, dictate that parents use appropriate judgment.


August 31, 2016

Adam Ratner: Behind the Bark: Saving Seals and Sea Lions in California

The Marine Mammal Center is the World’s largest marine mammal hospital, responsible for rescuing an average of 600-800 sick and injured seals and sea lions each year from over 600 miles of California coast.  With 40 years of experience, the Center has been able to give over 20,000 marine mammals a second chance at life with the support of the community for financial support and over 1,000 trained volunteers that conduct rescues, feedings, basic medical procedures and education work.  In addition to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of marine mammals, the Center learns from every animal that is

rescued and collaborates with 40-60 organizations a year to further research on marine mammal and ocean health.  The veterinary work and research is shared widely to over 100,000 visitors to the hospital each year with the goal of inspiring ocean conservation. Adam will share the latest stories of the marine mammals found along the California coast, including the record number of California sea lions found sick along the California coast in the past 2 years.


September 29, 2016

David Cade: Insights into rorqual lunge-feeding behavior gleaned from new video and accelerometry tags

For nearly all of human existence on the sea, our understanding of whales has been limited to what we can observe at the surface.  For fully aquatic animals such as these, however, time spent on the surface is really a tiny fraction of the life cycle of these largest predators on the planet.  Basic questions about feeding behavior and ecology have only begun to be answered in the last fifteen years with the advent of animal-borne sensors capable of logging cetacean behavior underwater.  Only in the last two years have sensors that measure orientation and motion been combined with high-quality video cameras to provide us with a whale’s eye view of the feeding events that are so critical to overall population recovery from 20th century lows.  Please join us as we explore new insights into the feeding behavior of humpback whales from five oceans, fin whales from the Atlantic and blue whales from right here in California.


October 25, 2016

Dean Bernal: Dean & JoJo: The Dolphin Legacy

Dean Bernal first visited the Turks and Caicos Islands in 1981. Three small sociable dolphins swam in the shallow coastal waters. One would become known as JoJo and befriended by Dean and many island residents. The life of JoJo seems legendary, but the books and archive films are created directly from the observations, and research recorded by Dean Bernal on his amazing and heart warming journeys with JoJo.

Dean will give a brief history of JoJo the wild Dolphin and how DEAN lobbied to make JoJo the National treasure of the Turks and Caicos Islands. JOJO is now the most highly protected dolphin in the world. Their story is now used as a wildlife icon for protection of land and Ocean environments globally.

Today DEAN and JoJo.’s battle is global  addressing issues like Japan where they succeeded in halting the kills of dolphins in Japan’s largest dolphin kill port~  addressing the proposed new captive facilities~ protecting other lone and sociable dolphins like JoJo ~and using DEAN and JoJo’s global media strength in licensing and branding for good cause programs.

Biography:

Dean Bernal has been likened to “a cross between Dian Fossey, Jane Goodall, and Crocodile Dundee”. Excerpts from the story of Dean and JoJo have been featured in countless books, TV specials and movies including the Academy Award nominated IMAX film Dolphins, narrated by Pierce Brosnan, two PBS specials: In the Wild: Dolphins with Robin Williams, and Dolphins: Close Encounters with George Page, & featured on World News Tonight. BBC, Cousteau and Nature specials have also feature excerpts of Dean Bernal and JoJo.
Dean created The Marine Wildlife Foundation to protect lone dolphins like JoJo by providing legal protection, medical attention, public education and research. JoJo was declared a National Treasure of the Turks and Caicos Islands, and JoJo’s caretaker and friend, Dean, was appointed his official warden. Dean Bernal is a spokesperson, film producer, director, and wildlife advocate.
Today, Dean uses his ongoing experiences as a key note speaker for incentive building and also a promoter of peace by sharing his books, films and the award-winning Dean and JoJo anti-bullying and peace resolution DVD program with teachers, schools, therapists, and psychologists.