Previous Speakers

     Wednesday, June 14, 2017  7:00 PM

     Dr. Ann Bowles, Ph.D.


The ACS welcomed Dr. Ann Bowles and her presentation, "When it Comes to Communication, Are Killer Whales Big Dolphins? One Scientist's Perspective."

Dr. Ann Bowles received her B.A. in Linguistics from the University of California, San Diego, and her Ph.D. in Marine Biology from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She now leads the Animal Behavior and Senses Program at Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute. The program is best known for several decades of research on the effects of human-made noise in a wide range of species, but it has also conducted research on marine mammal hearing and communication. Dr. Bowles helped develop current science-based criteria for protecting marine mammals from noise. Out of this experience, she has worked to foster solutions to marine mammal conflicts with other human activities, such as fisheries interactions. She has recently returned to her linguistic roots with a series of papers on vocal development and learning in killer whales.


     Wednesday, May 10, 2017  7:00 PM

     Alyson Fleming, Ph.D.

The ACS welcomed Alyson Fleming and her presentation, “Cetaceans as historical records and sentinels of climate change.”

Large, migratory predators are often cited as sentinel species for ecosystem processes and climate-related changes, but their utility as indicators is dependent upon an understanding of their response to environmental variability. Documentation of the links between climate variability, ecosystem change and predator dynamics is absent for most top predators. Identifying species that may be useful indicators and elucidating these mechanistic links provides insight into current ecological dynamics and may inform predictions of future ecosystem responses to climatic change.

Aly is a James Smithson Postdoctoral Fellow. Prior to joining the museum, she was a Knauss Marine Policy Fellow and Foreign Affairs Officer at the Department of State working on international marine policy in the Office of Marine Conservation. She received her Ph.D. from Scripps Institution of Oceanography in biological oceanography researching cetacean population structure, foraging ecology and habitat modeling. Her James Smithson fellowship research is examining the historical ecology of Arctic cetaceans using NMNH collections of baleen, teeth, and bone, as a way to predict potential future trajectories of these species in light of a changing climate. As a Smithson Fellow, her work connects Smithsonian science and policy leaders with other US government and NGO partners to better inform the development of a sustainable Arctic policy.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017  7:00 PM

Mark Lowry

For our April speaker series, we welcomed Mark Lowry and his presentation, "My 36 Year Journey Studying Pinnipeds."

In 1981 Mark Lowry was given a report by his new supervisor at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center of a recently completed 3-year study of pinnipeds at the Channel Islands in southern California and was not only told to learn what was in it, but also that he was going to study the diet of California sea lions. While studying the diet of sea lions at San Clemente Island and San Nicolas Island he also began to census pinnipeds at the Channel Islands –first by counting them on land and later using aerial photography. Now, after 36 years of studying pinnipeds, he has found out that California sea lions are affected by changing oceanographic conditions. During warm water events, which happen during El Niño conditions, sea lion pup production drops, pup mortality increases, and their diet becomes more diversified. During cold-water conditions, which happen during La Niña conditions, the opposite happens. Also, their diet not only changes seasonally and annually, but also undergoes multi-year changes that are sometimes correlated with prey abundance. Also, during that 36-year period, elephant seals have not only expanded at the Channel Islands, but have also expanded in central California; and harbor seals at the Channel Islands remained at a relatively constant level.
In 1973, Mark Lowry earned a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Biology from Humboldt State University. His career as a marine biologist began in 1976 when he was hired by the National Marine Fisheries Service to observe fishing operations on U.S. tuna purse seine fishing boats. In 1981, as a Research Fishery Biologist for the National Marine Fisheries Service at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, California, he began studying the diet of California sea lions at San Clemente Island and San Nicolas Island. He specializes in identifying fish from otoliths, and squid and octopus from mandibles (i.e., beaks) recovered from sea lion scat samples. Also, he conducts pinniped population surveys to census the U.S. populations of California sea lions, northern elephant seals, Pacific harbor seals, and Steller sea lions.




Wednesday, March 8, 2017 at 7:00 PM 

Dr. Barbara Taylor 

Southwest Fisheries Science Center, NMFS, NOAA

   We were excited to welcome Barbara Taylor and her presentation, 
   "Are vaquitas the next condor story?  Let’s make it so."

Dr. Barbara Taylor has worked on vaquita for over 20 years.  She leads the   largest marine mammal genetics research group in the world at NOAA's   Southwest Fisheries Science Center, chairs the Society for Marine Mammalogy's   Conservation Committee, leads listing efforts for whales, dolphins and porpoises for IUCN, and serves on the International Recovery Team and Presidential   Commission on vaquita.

Vaquitas dropped from 60 to about 30 individuals in the past year.  A year with a gillnet ban within the full range of the species, the Sea Shepherd collaborating with the Navy to remove nets, and an additional derelict gear removal program.  In this presentation Barbara Taylor provides an update on the latest recovery team meeting, plans to take vaquitas into temporary sanctuary, news on the future of gillnetting and changes in laws regarding illegal fishing.  The lofty peaks of San Pedro Martir, home to a thriving California condor population, form a backdrop to the tiny area where vaquitas remain.  These new efforts to save vaquitas in sanctuaries inspire learning lessons from that other local species that was on the brink of extinction and is now recovering.  Learning from both the successes and the failures of condor conservation will provide ample material for a lively discussion at this critical time for vaquitas’ fate.

 





Wednesday, February 8, 2017 at 7:00 PM 

Jeremy Smith

For our February meeting, we welcomed Jeremy Smith and his presentation, " Sea Turtle Research in America, My Experience". 

Jeremy currently works for San Diego Whale Watch, where he has been one of their naturalists for the last four years. His background includes multiple years of education work at the North Carolina Aquarium, Duke marine lab, and at Sea Camp San Diego teaching kids all about marine science. Jeremy’s sea turtle experience began in 2001 on the beaches of southern Florida. He’s worked with loggerheads, hawksbills, leatherbacks and green turtle species on nesting beaches including southern Florida, North Carolina, Barbados, and Saint Croix. Jeremy currently spends his summers in St. Croix helping biologist, Dr. Kelly Stewart, with a population analysis and genetics study of leatherback sea turtles. Jeremy talked about the current project that he’s working on, and discussed other species that can be found nesting on American beaches, or swimming here off the coast of southern California, even here in La Jolla! 



Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at 7:00 PM 

Ric Matthews


Our January meeting featured Ric Matthews. Ric, local college biology instructor, gavean illustrated talk on long range whale trips from the 70’s and 80’s.  It was during this period of time the gray whales became friendly - approaching skiffs and interacting with people.  Annual trips happened with people leaving San Diego on long range sport fishing boats and following the whales into the Baja lagoons.  This talk will also discuss other marine mammals found along the way, with regular visits to the offshore islands along the Baja Coast.   

Ric has taught biology for the local community colleges for almost 40 years.  He served as the ACS-SD chapter president from 1972-1976 and then served for two years as the founding National ACS president.  As a biologist he has studied various marine mammals.


Wednesday, December 14, 2016 at 7:00 PM 

Chuck Nicklin


Our December meeting featured Chuck Nicklin. Chuck discussed his recent book, “Camera Man – My Life and Adventures as an Underwater Filmmaker.” Nicklin's book, Camera Man, chronicles his adventurous life, from his early days as owner of the Diving Locker to a highly successful career as an underwater photographer and cinematographer. His photos have appeared in National Geographic and he worked as a cameraman on major motion pictures including The DeepNever Say Never Again, and The Abyss

In Camera Man, Nicklin revisits the dawning days of scuba diving and shares stories of how his career as an underwater cameraman unfolded, from the day he became known as “the man who rode a whale,” to his adventures traveling around the world diving with and filming majestic humpback whales and fearsome-looking great white sharks. Included are guest essays from Nicklin’s friends who’ve traveled with him, learned from him, and shared exciting adventures with him.

Chuck Nicklin has loved the water ever since spending his childhood days on a Massachusetts lake. When his family moved to California in the early 1940s, Chuck literally immersed himself in the emerging sports of freediving and scuba diving. He became an expert spear-fisherman, but it wasn’t long before he tired of spearfishing and opted to try his hand at underwater photography. The rest, as they say, is history.

Chuck will also be bringing some of his books to sell.





Wednesday, October 12, 2016 at 7:00 PM 

Thomas Jefferson

On Wednesday, October 12, 2016 we were excited to welcome Thomas Jefferson and his presentation, "How Taxonomy Affects Conservation: Looking at the 'Big Picture' of Humpback Dolphin Conservation Status."

Taxonomy can have major impacts on how we conserve and manage biological diversity.  There are many recent and upcoming changes in cetacean taxonomy, and these will have significant real-world effects on conservation.  This talk will present a case study on the humpback dolphins (Sousa spp.), a group of coastal dolphins found in the Atlantic, Indian, and western Pacific oceans.  Recent changes in taxonomy of this group have required a complete re-assessment of their conservation status, and this in turn will help to focus local conservation efforts on preserving the essential elements of biological diversity. 

Dr. Thomas A. Jefferson (Ph.D. in Wildlife and Fisheries Science) has been studying marine mammals since 1983, when he was an undergraduate at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His Master’s degree is from Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, and his Ph.D. is from Texas A&M University.  Tom is currently a Visiting Scientist as the Southwest Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries, where his main interests are the development of marine mammal identification aids, and investigating the systematics and population ecology of the more poorly-known species of dolphins and porpoises. Most of his work has been related to conservation and management of marine mammals threatened by human activities. Since 1995, he has been working extensively in Southeast Asia, and has traveled widely in the region. His current primary research focuses on the conservation biology of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin and finless porpoise populations in Hong Kong and surrounding waters, as well as the population biology of bottlenose dolphins in California. He is also working on other projects looking at the systematics and ecology of these species throughout their ranges.  In addition, Tom is involved in many side projects, including those on the taxonomy and population ecology of tropical dolphins (Delphinus and Stenella). He has published over 100 scientific papers and books, and has attended many meetings and workshops as an invited expert.  He has also spent many months at sea on fishing boats and research vessels in various parts of the world.

With co-authors, Marc Webber and Robert Pitman, Tom published an identification guide in 2008: Marine Mammals of the World: A Comprehensive Guide to Their Identification (Academic Press). There is now a second edition published and was available for purchase and signing that evening



Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 7:00 PM 

Diane Alps

On Wednesday, September 14, 2016 we welcomed Diane Alps and her presentation, "Amazing Wildlife and Landscapes of Antarctica."

Diane Alps is the President of ACS. She has been involved with the American Cetacean Society since 1998. She discovered ACS through the Cabrillo Whalewatch Naturalist Program (of which she is still an active volunteer). Diane soon became active on the ACS/LA Board of Directors and has held positions of Conservation Chair, Whalewatch Chair, Membership Chair and Officer positions of Secretary, Treasurer, Vice President. She has been the President since 2011. Diane also worked as the sole staff person for ACS’ National Headquarters for 8 years while concurrently working at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, where she is the Programs Coordinator. During her tenure at working at ACS, Diane led 5 successful ACS conferences and looks forward to continued involvement with all of ACS’ efforts. In addition to her active community involvement with ACS, she is a Fisheries and Wildlife Biology major at Oregon State University. Diane most recently designed “WhaleSAFE”, a campaign to raise awareness about safe whale watching and responsible ecotourism. She is currently developing an outreach program to teach the community about the local bottlenose dolphins though citizen-science photo identification.

The American Cetacean Society teamed up with Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris to offer a special excursion to Antarctica tailored to whale enthusiasts. We visited the Antarctic Peninsula and nearby islands for 16 days last March. Passengers were able to assist a contingent of marine mammal researchers from all over the world in collecting a treasure trove of data, including photo ID, biopsy sampling, data tagging, satellite tagging, and photogrammetry. Diane will share photos and stories of this pioneering and exciting adventure: from majestic glaciers and icebergs to some of the whales that make their living in the frigid waters like humpbacks, killer whales and minkes; the seals that appear to be everywhere like crabeater, Weddell, leopard, as well as Antarctic fur seals; and the incredible birds that master the open ocean and the high latitude like albatrosses, petrels, skuas and the ultimate entertainers, the penguins.



 Wednesday, June 8, 2016 at 7:00 PM 

Captain Oona Layolle and Barb Taylor

On wednesday, June 8th, captain Oona Layolle presented on Sea Shepherd's campaign,"Operation Milagro". Operation Milagro is a campaign to investigate the causes which are driving the vaquita to extinction and take steps to save the species. The first part of Operation Milagro took place in February through May 2015 and focused on gathering information, documenting illegal activities, establishing contact with marine biologists and other NGOs, forging a partnership with relevant government entities, and joining these forces. The second expedition was from November 2015 to May 2016. This part of the campaign focused on taking action against illegal fishing. They returned with two boats to search for and collect illegal fishing gear and deliver them to the authorities. The area was patrolled to stop poaching and reported those activities to the authorities and world media. During the campaigns, they found three dead vaquitas and the autopsies revealed that the three died of drowning in nets. They also sighted five live vaquitas and managed to remove 42 illegal nets and 16 longlines.


Capt. Layolle is from France and a qualified 500 T Captain since 2008. She is a veteran of nine Sea Shepherd campaigns and leader of four Sea Shepherd scientist projects. She grew up traveling around the world with her seafaring family onboard different sailing boats, and living on different Pacific Islands. During her travels, she witnessed too many underwater places and island paradises turn to dead zones in such a short lapse of time. She's always wanted to fight against the destruction of the planet due to human behavior. She believes there is a big lack of education and logic in the way we are treating our world. Without nature, there is no life. While looking for a ship to work during the Mediterranean summer season of 2011, she crossed paths with the Sea Shepherd M/V Brigitte Bardot’s crew in France. They needed someone to navigate the ship, and she had all the qualifications and experience to be that person. She jumped on this perfect opportunity to finally use her skills and experience to do something that makes more sense. She was supposed to go for two months, and it has now been five great years. Sea Shepherd has been the perfect organization, because the sea is the place where she grew up and where she can use her skills and experiences at best to fight for life and serve our planet.
 
In addition, Dr. Taylor presented her talk, "Net loss: new abundance estimate reveals that Mexico’s endemic porpoise faces imminent extinction due to illegal fishing". Only about 60 vaquitas remain according to a survey done last fall.  Dr. Barbara Taylor, co-chief scientist of the survey, will show the key role that science has played in closely tracking the decline of the world's most endangered marine mammal.  The catastrophic decline since 2012 results from the resurgence of an illegal fishery for an endangered fish species to supply part to the illegal wildlife trade in China.  Despite the Government of Mexico heeding the scientists' warning and instating a 2-year emergency gillnet ban with greatly increase enforcement, 3 vaquitas were found dead in March from gillnet entanglement.  Illegal totoaba fishing continued despite the greatly increased enforcement overseen by the Mexican Navy in collaboration with the Sea Shepherd’s Operation Milagro.  If the emergency 2-year gillnet ban is lifted in 2017, vaquitas could go extinct in only 5 years.

Dr. Barbara Taylor has worked on vaquita for over 20 years.  She leads the largest marine mammal genetics research group in the world at NOAA's Southwest Fisheries Science Center, chairs the Society for Marine Mammalogy's Conservation Committee, leads listing efforts for whales, dolphins and porpoises for IUCN, and serves on the International Recovery Team and Presidential Commission on vaquita.
 



 Wednesday, May 11, 2016 at 7:00 PM 

Jaeny Colmenares

 On Wednesday, April 11, 2016 we welcomed Jaeny Colmenares for her presentation: "The Ric O'Barry Dolphin Project". 

Jaeny Colmenares is a graduate from San Diego State University who attained a B.S. in Biology. Within the last four years, she has pursued her love and passion in marine biology by volunteering as a Cove Monitor for Ric O'Barry's Dolphin Project in Japan and working as a Naturalist for San Diego Whale Watch. 

At this presentation, she gave an overview of the hunts and captive industry that occurs in Taiji, Japan. Jaeny and two other volunteers also shared their experience of what it's like to be a part of the Cove Monitor Program and ways you can help to take action. 



  Wednesday, April 13, 2016 at 7:00 PM 

Greg Campbell

Our speaker for April was Greg Campbell and we enjoyed his presentation"Density, abundance, and habitat use of cetaceans off southern California."

Greg Campbell has been studying the biology of marine mammals for over 20 years including investigations on the population structure of bottlenose dolphins in Belize, acoustic signatures of individual female Steller sea lions in Alaska, whistle structures of bottlenose dolphins off the U.S west coast and the density of several cetacean species off southern California. Greg is currently based at SWFSC as a visiting scientist while simultaneously working on his PhD under the direction of Bernd Wursig at Texas A&M Galveston. Greg’s dissertation research is focused on two long-term studies:  1) cetacean distribution, density and habitat use off southern California; and 2) bottlenose dolphin population structure in the Southern California Bight.


The marine ecosystem off southern California is a dynamic and productive habitat that supports a diverse community of cetacean species as well as an array of human activities including commercial fishing, shipping and naval operations. The intersection between cetacean and human use of this region has resulted in entanglements in fishing gear, ship strikes and disturbance from anthropogenic sound. Detailed knowledge of cetacean density, distribution and abundance is needed to develop effective management strategies which will address these issues. This presentation provided new results from recent studies focused on developing a comprehensive and detailed assessment of cetaceans off southern California.



Wednesday, March 9, 2016 at 7:00 PM 

Nick Kellar         

We were happy to welcome Nick Kellar and his presentation, "Oil, blubber, and hormones: the effects of one big fat mess and more".

Nick Kellar is the principal investigator of the Marine Wildlife Endocrine Laboratory at NOAA's Southwest Fisheries Science Center.  The principal focus of this laboratory is to help in the assessment of marine mammal population health by measuring hormone levels and other health diagnostics in free-ranging animals. He will talk about how hormones measurements are used to determine pregnancy rates and assess the health effects of potential stressors like oil spills, sonar usage, and fishery activities. 



Wednesday, February 10, 2016 at 7:00 PM 

Kerri Danil 

We were happy to welcome Kerri Danil and her presentation, "CSI: Cetacean Stranding Investigation".

Kerri Danil leads the stranded dead marine mammal program at NOAA's Southwest Fisheries Science Center.  She spends much of her time studying the life history and health of cetaceans stranded along our coast or incidentally killed in fisheries.  She will discuss how the stranding network operates, the wealth of information that can be learned from stranded specimens, diagnostics used, adventures had, and some of her favorite case studies. 



Wednesday, January 20, 2016 at 7:00 PM 

Dr. Steven Swartz 

We were happy to welcome Dr. Steven Swartz as he presented: "Living with Gray Whales: A 40-Year Perspective". The San Diego Chapter will have a limited number of his recent book, "Lagoon Time - A Guide to Gray Whales and the Natural History of San Ignacio Lagoon", for sale and signing at this meeting.  Steve was one of the founding members of our chapter--a great guy and truly a guru when it comes to San Ignacio Lagoon! 



Wednesday, December 9, 2015 at 7:00 PM 

Dr. Dave Weller- Southwest Fisheries Science Center

Diane Alps- ACS National President

We are ending the year with an evening dedicated to the gray whale in December! We are so excited to welcome both Dr. Dave Weller and Diane Alps to our next ACS-San Diego chapter meeting! We have designed an evening to help us be better prepared to enjoy the migrating gray whales. 

We all love spending time out on the water and seeing these majestic animals each winter! Keeping current on the latest updates on marine mammals and understanding the whale watching guidelines will allow all of us to share the water with them safely, creating a better experience for everyone.

Dr. Dave Weller will provide us with the latest data available on the gray whale population and information on their recent findings. Afterwards, Diane Alps will present guidelines for responsible whale watching. 

This is important information for anyone out on the water during the upcoming migration season (and throughout the year). Please invite your friends, family, co-workers, and all fellow whale lovers to this meeting! It is sure to be an exciting and informative evening! 


Wednesday, November 11, 2015 at 7:00 PM

Debbie Sherman - Ranger at Cabrillo National Monument

&

Alicia Amerson - Scripps Institution of Oceanography Graduate Student

We have two-times the fun scheduled for our next ACS-San Diego chapter meeting! We are happy to welcome both Debbie Sherman and Alicia Amerson.
 

Debbie Sherman, ranger at the Cabrillo National Monument, will speak to us about the infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch. In addition, we will hear from Alicia Amerson, a graduate student at Scripps Institution of Oceanography who received a small grant from our local ACS chapter. Alicia will discuss her graduate work,Through Their Eyes- a whale watching study to determine best practices for sustainable and responsible whale watching along the Pacific coast. 


Wednesday, October 14, 2015 at 7:00 PM

Dr. Eric Archer - SWFSC Marine Mammal Genetics Group

"North Pacific Fin Whales: Subspecies or Species?"

For our October meeting, we are pleased to welcome Dr. Eric Archer, a geneticist with Southwest Fisheries Science Center.  His work focuses on developing analytical tools to help identify reproductively isolated units of cetaceans from populations to species.  This talk in particular will look into North Pacific Fin Whales, a type of whale often spotted off our San Diego coast.

He received his B.A. in Biology from Virginia Wesleyan College in 1990 and his Ph.D. in Marine Biology at SIO in 1996. In his spare time he enjoys flying, martial arts, and learning the bass. 

Remember that as always, our talks are free and open to the public. We encourage you to bring your family and friends that may be interested in joining the ACS! See you there!


Wednesday, September 9, 2015 at 7:00 PM

Chip Johnson - U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet

"U.S. Navy Funded Marine Mammal Monitoring Within Southern California"

For our September meeting, we are pleased to welcome Chip Johnson, a marine biologist stationed in San Diego working for the U.S. Navy's Pacific Fleet. He will be presenting his talk, "U.S. Navy Funded Marine Mammal Monitoring Within Southern California"

This talk will focus on regional Southern California marine mammal research and monitoring funded by three separate but interrelated Navy programs. Currently, key projects involve ongoing efforts documenting movement patterns and residency times for blue whales and fin whales relative to their U.S. West coast distribution, and new research on regional sub-populations of beaked whales.

Remember that as always, our talks are free and open to the public. We encourage you to bring your family and friends that may be interested in joining the ACS! See you there!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015 at 7:00 PM

Jacques Chirazi - Founder of Biomimicry San Diego (www.biomimicrysandiego.org)

"Biomimicry: Learning from Nature's Genius"
Biomimicry is an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature's time-tested patterns and strategies.  The goal is to create products, processes, and policies that are well-adapted to life on earth over the long-haul.  The core idea is that nature has already solved many of the problems we grapple with.  Animals, plants, and microbes are consummate engineers.  After billions of years of research and development, what surrounds us is the secret to survival.

Jacques Edouard Chirazi, Certified Biomimicry Professional, has managed the City of San Diego’s Clean Tech Initiative since 2007. His focus is to create economic growth while fostering sustainability. One emerging initiative is to bridge clean technology with biomimicry. He develops and supports a clean technology cluster in San Diego. As a critical thinker analyzing complex programs and policies, he leverages his strong communication skills while collaborating across a diverse range of private, public, and non-profit sector groups. With a passion for learning about the natural world and understanding how nature could transform the corporate environment, his long term vision is to create new business models and financial instruments to accelerate the commercialization of biomimetic solutions. Jacques’s innovative thinking allows him to create the conditions needed for this transformation. 

Jacques served six years as Senior Project Manager at Bainbridge, Inc., a strategic management consulting firm that provides consulting services for Fortune 500 companies. He currently teaches sustainability and clean technology courses to business students at the University of California, San Diego and San Diego State University. 

Jacques received a Master's degree from University of California San Diego’s Graduate School of International Relations & Pacific Studies with an emphasis in International Environmental Policy and a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing from San Diego State University’s School of Business Administration.  Jacques is a Certified Energy Manager (C.E.M), Renewable Energy Professional (R.E.P) and LEED-GA. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015:

Dr. Jessica Redfern - Southwest Fisheries Science Center

"Identifying and Minimizing Risks to Cetaceans"

Dr. Jessica Redfern has been using statistical models to address wildlife management questions for more than 15 years. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Colorado College and received her Ph.D. in environmental science from the University of California, Berkeley. She now leads the Marine Mammal Spatial Habitat and Risk Program at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, California. This group of modelers, ecologists, and oceanographers uses ecosystem data to predict the location of marine mammals, identify priority habitat, assess risks to marine mammals from human activities, and interpret trends in abundance. Jessica develops cetacean-habitat models and uses predictions from these models to assess risk to cetaceans in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Her current projects include assessments of the risk of whale-ship collisions in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, identification of priority habitat for large whales in the eastern Pacific Ocean, and using oceanographic data to interpret trends in the abundance of dolphins that have been impacted by tuna purse-seine fishing in the eastern tropical Pacific.

Marine spatial planning provides a comprehensive framework for managing multiple uses of the marine environment and has the potential to minimize environmental impacts and reduce conflicts among human uses. This planning requires maps of species distributions and human activities. Jessica will describe how researchers at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center are working to produce these maps and how they use them to identify and minimize risks to cetaceans. Specifically, Jessica will discuss the development of habitat models that provide fine-scale maps of cetacean distributions and how these maps have been used to assess the risk of ships striking whales in Southern California waters. These waters have a diverse cetacean community, support many human uses (e.g., shipping, military training, and fishing), and contain many protected areas. An example of the connections between these users and the possibility for conflict occurred when the California Air Resources Board implemented the Ocean-Going Vessel Fuel Rule. The fuel rule required large, commercial ships to use cleaner-burning fuels when traveling close to the mainland coast. Instead of using these fuels, ships began traveling farther offshore. This shift resulted in questions about the risk of ships striking large whales, increased shipping traffic in military ranges, and raised concerns for maritime safety. Jessica will share the tools she and colleagues developed in response to these concerns. These tools can be used to balance user-user and user-environment conflicts when evaluating optimal shipping routes.


Wednesday, June 10, 2015:

Jim Carreta - NOAA SWFSC - "Known unknowns: Estimating the fraction of coastal bottlenose dolphin carcasses that are documented ashore."

Tom Jefferson, Ph.D. - An Update on Vaquita Conservation
Jim Carretta has worked in marine mammal science with NOAA / Southwest Fisheries Science Center since 1987.  His responsibilities and experiences include designing and conducting aerial and vessel-based marine mammal abundance surveys, estimating commercial fishery bycatch of marine mammals, and he serves as editor of the U.S. Pacific region marine mammal stock assessment reports.  Jim has provided scientific advice to the Pacific Fishery Management Council to facilitate their management of Highly Migratory Species fisheries in the context of protected species bycatch.  Jim worked with the U.S. Navy to mitigate / reduce the effects of at-sea ship-shock testing on marine mammals during hull tests of the guided missile destroyer U.S.S. John Paul Jones.  He has been an advisor to the Pacific Offshore Cetacean Take Reduction Team for the past 14 years.

Dr. Tom Jefferson has been studying marine mammals since 1983 as an undergraduate student at the University of California, Santa Cruz.  Further education includes a M.Sc. from Moss Landing Marine Laboratories and a Ph.D. from Texas A&M University.  His main interests are the development of marine mammal identification aids and the systematics and population ecology of the more poorly-known species of dolphins and porpoises.  Much of his work since the 1980's has been related to conservation and management of marine mammals threatened by human activities. Since 1995, he has been working in Southeast Asia, and has traveled widely in the region. His primary research focused on the conservation biology of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin (Sousa chinensis) and Indo-Pacific finless porpoise (Neophocaena phocaenoides) populations in Hong Kong and surrounding waters. He is also working on other projects looking at the systematics and ecology of these species throughout their ranges.

In addition, he is involved in many other projects, including those on the conservation of the critically-endangered vaquita (Phocoena sinus), and on the taxonomy and population ecology of common dolphins (Delphinus spp.). With co-authors, Marc Webber and Robert Pitman, he published an identification guide in 2008: Marine Mammals of the World: A Comprehensive Guide to Their Identification (Academic Press). There is a second edition due out in 2015. His outside interests include mountain biking, hiking, drums and percussion, outdoor photography, and wildlands preservation. He is married and lives in San Diego County.


May 13, 2015

Dr. Lei Lani Stelle- Associate Professor at the University of Redlands

How Citizen Scientists Contribute to Research and Conservation of our Local Marine Mammals

Dr. Lei Lani Stelle is an Associate Professor at the University of Redlands.  She has been studying marine mammals for over 20 years and currently investigates anthropogenic impacts on cetaceans and pinnipeds off Southern California.  She incorporates citizen science into her efforts with funding and assistance from Earthwatch volunteers.  In addition, she initiated and co-developed Whale mAPP, a collection of GIS-based web and mobile tools, to encourage public reports of animal sightings. With the assistance of students and volunteers, her research group monitors the distribution, behavior, and physiology of populations of all local species.  Photographic Identification is employed to track individual animals, estimate population sizes, and determine residency patterns. GIS maps display sightings, and are used to model habitat use, and in combination with behavioral studies provide insight into human disturbances.  Her outreach efforts help to educate the public and research findings contribute to marine mammal conservation and management.

Thursday, April 9, 2015:

Dr. Karen Martien - NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center

Management Genetics of Hawaiian False Killer Whales (Pseudorca crassidens): From Social Groups to Subspecies

Dr. Martien’s research focuses on using genetic analysis and genetic modeling techniques to inform management decisions for marine mammals. She uses simulation-based performance testing to evaluate the performance of genetic analytical methods in a management context and studies genetic structuring of cetacean species around the Hawaiian Archipelago. Her current projects include social structure of Hawai’i insular false killer whales, global genetic structure of false killer whales, melon-headed whales, and pygmy killer whales, and developing methods and metrics for using genetic data to delimit subspecies. She is also collaborating on studies social structure, population structure, and taxonomy of short-finned pilot whales and rough-toothed dolphins.

This is a particularly timely presentation, as false killer whales have been sighted recently off the coast of San Diego, something observed just a handful of times in the last several decades.  Please note that this talk will take place on THURSDAY evening rather than our traditional Wednesday night.  We hope you can all make it!

March 11, 2015:

Judy St. Leger, DVM, DACVP, Vice President of Research and Science, SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment

Cetacean Science at SeaWorld - What Are We Learning?

Dr. Judy St. Leger is Vice President of Research and Science at SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment. Dr. St. Leger obtained her DVM degree from Cornell University and completed a residency in Pathology through UC Davis. She has worked for SeaWorld as a veterinarian for 15 years. She oversees research and serves on the graduate committees of students completing studies with animals or data from the parks. Her day to day job includes investigations in health of aquatic animals including stranded marine mammals in Florida and California. Her primary areas of interest include clinical pathology, anatomic pathology, advanced imaging, and molecular investigations. Current investigations include viral screening in dolphins and whales, pathogenesis of select infectious agents in marine species, and penguin pathology and diving physiology. Her duties have taken her on adventures into the field in Australia, North and South America, Asia, and Antarctica.

Dr. St. Leger has authored many scientific articles and book chapters. She is a frequent lecturer in topics related to pathology of marine species and marine fish conservation. She is a board member of the CL Davis Foundation and the SeaWorld–Busch Gardens Conservation Fund and is on the scientific advisory board of the Morris Animal Foundation. She is a past associate editor for the journal Veterinary Pathology and past president of the International Association for Aquatic Animal Medicine (IAAAM).

In addition to her roles in research and science, Judy directs a program called Rising Tide Conservation. This program is an affiliation and integration of stakeholders committed to reef conservation through aquaculture of marine ornamental fish. Some of the stakeholders include universities, non-government organizations committed to reef conservation, and display aquariums throughout North America. Rising Tide began in 2009 and continues to grow and succeed.

February 11, 2015:

Marine Mammal Science: The perspective from a NOAA at-sea research platform

Lt. Claire Surrey-Marsden (NOAA Research Fleet) and Annette Henry (Southwest Fisheries Science Center)

The presentation will be about the ships in the NOAA fleet and how their operations relate and support the marine mammal research underway with NOAA.  Sign-up for tours of vessel will be available at meeting.

Lt. Claire Surrey-Marsden

LT Claire Surrey-Marsden is an officer in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations Corps of Commissioned Officers (NOAA Corps).  She currently serves as the Operations Officer aboard NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker, stationed in San Diego, CA. She holds a BS in Marine Biology from Florida Institute of Technology.  Claire worked for 3 years as a field biologist for Florida Fish and Wildlife's Florida Marine Research Institute, working specifically with Florida Manatees and North Atlantic Right Whales. She joined NOAA in 2007 and began work on a National Marine Fisheries research vessels based out of Woods Hole, CA.  During her 3 year land assignment she worked with Wayne Perryman and the Marine Mammal and Turtle Division of the Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC) in La Jolla.  Her work there focused primarily on gray whale migration research.  Her current ship, Reuben Lasker, will support major projects of the SWFSC, including marine mammal research surveys.
Annette Henry

Annette Henry works in the Marine Mammal and Turtle Division at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center. One of her main  responsibilities is as the Survey Coordinator for the marine mammal surveys. For her master’s degree (SDSU), she worked with Brent Stewart (Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute) on pinniped diets. Prior to working with SWFSC, she was with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Los Angeles Department of Power (Mono Lake). Her current research interests include the biology of seabirds, migration, flight physiology, body composition, and conservation of vaquita.

January 14, 2015: Wayne Perryman & Jim Carretta

Happy New Year!
 

Mark your calendar for our next ACS San Diego chapter meeting! To start off the year, your are invited to attend the initial screening of three ALL-NEW gray whale documentaries produced by Southwest Fisheries Science Center. 

Two gray whale experts, Wayne Perryman and Jim Carretta (featured in the films) will be in attendance and available for a question and answer session following the screening.
 
The evolving story of the Eastern Pacific population of gray whales, from endangered to thriving, is a beacon of hope for other conservation efforts. North Pacific gray whales were nearly hunted to extinction, but through conservation efforts and scientific research, much of the population has rebounded.  Wanting to share this remarkable story with others, the Southwest Fisheries Science Center decided to produce three (not for profit) educational videos that will be available for educators and display at aquariums, museums, and other interested organizations.  Each video follows a unique theme of the story: 1) gray whale migration, 2) the rigors of gray whale research, and 3) the recovery of the gray whale.  Furthermore, these videos touch upon the long-term research that has been conducted on populations of gray whales off the coast of Russia (also known as the Western Pacific population of gray whale).  Each video contains interviews with some of the dedicated scientists who have studied both the Eastern and Western North Pacific populations of gray whales in two remote locations over the last couple of decades: an island off Russia and a century-old lighthouse station in central California.”

 

December 10, 2014: Alisa Schulman-Janiger

We are so excited to present Alisa Schulman-Janiger's presentation, "California Killer Whale Project" this month!

 Alisa has been the director/coordinator of the shore-based ACS/LA Gray Whale Census and Behavior Project since 1984. She has served on ACS/LA's Board of Directors since 1983. She is one of the instructors for the Cabrillo Whalewatch program. She has been photo-identifying California killer whales, archiving their sightings, and studying their distribution, natural history, and behavior for over 30 years, which evolved into the California Killer Whale Project. She is the co-author of the 1997 NOAA Technical Memorandum called "Killer Whales of California and Western Mexico: A Catalog of Photo-Identified Individuals", and is working on updating this catalog. Alisa spends several weeks each year in Monterey Bay continuing her killer whale research. She is an on-board naturalist on boats in both southern California and Monterey Bay; she has also worked as on-board naturalist in Baja California and Alaska, naturalist and staff scientist while researching humpback whales in Massachusetts, and field researcher on harbor porpoise, humpback whales, and killer whales with the National Marine Mammal Lab in Alaska. Her work with killer whales and gray whales has beeen featured on National Geographic Explorer and PBS.

 

Nov 7-9, 2014: ACS 14th International Conference

Reserve your spot TODAY! Information available under "Upcoming Events".

 

October 8, 2014: Dave Weller, Ph.D.

We are happy to welcome Dr. Weller and his talk, "A Gray Area: On the Matter of Gray Whales in the Western North Pacific".

Dr. David Weller has been studying the biology and ecology of marine mammals for nearly 30 years. His specialization is focused on the areas of behavioral ecology, population assessment, and evaluation of potential disturbance impacts from human activities. Current research conducted by Dave includes studies of (1) the behavior, ecology, and population dynamics of gray whales in the western and eastern North Pacific and (2) the behavioral ecology and population dynamics of coastal bottlenose dolphins off California. In the past decade, he worked closely with the International Whaling Commission, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), U.S. Marine Mammal Commission and a variety of national and international academic institutions on issues related to the conservation and management of endangered whale and dolphin populations.

September 10, 2014: Aimée R. Lang, Ph.D.

Join us for our next ACS-SD speaker, Aimée R. Lang. She will be presenting her talk, "How many blue whale subspecies are there? What we know and why we care".

After completing her undergraduate degree in Marine Biology at Auburn University in Alabama, Aimee went on to obtain a master’s degree through the Cetacean Behavior Lab at San Diego State University, where her research focused on using photo-identification techniques to study the movements of Pacific Coast bottlenose dolphins within the Southern California Bight. As a master’s student, she became interested in the use of genetics to study cetaceans. Her PhD research at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography focused on the genetics of a small group of gray whales that feed off the coast of Sakhalin Island, Russia. She is now a contractor at the SWFSC, where she continues to study the genetics of gray whales, as well as those of other cetaceans, including blue whales and bottlenose dolphins.


August 13, 2014: Dr. Simone Baumann-Pickering

Join us for our next ACS-SD speaker, Dr. Simone Baumann-Pickering. She will be presenting her talk, "Listening in the Deep: Using Sound to Study Animals We Rarely See".

Dr. Baumann-Pickering is an assistant research biologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography where she leads the Behavioral Acoustic Ecology Lab.  She has been working on automated detection and classification of echolocation clicks to species level.  As a result of her research, acoustic monitoring of the endangered population of insular Hawaiian false killer whales is becoming possible.  Her team has advanced knowledge on beaked whale acoustic species description and are now able to develop habitat and behavioral models as well as better geographic distribution maps of understudied species based on autonomous acoustic detections.  She is interested in investigating the diel and seasonal presence, geographic distribution, behavioral adaptions, habitat preference, and food web interactions using passive acoustic methods.

July 9, 2014: Dr. R.H. Defran 

Please join us for our next ACS San Diego chapter meeting, as we present Dr. R.H. Defran! Dr. Defran will be giving his lecture entitled, "The Itinerant Life and Times of California Bottlenose Dolphins".

Dr. Defran is Director of the Cetacean Behavior Laboratory and Professor Emeritus at San Diego State University. In late 1983, he began work with NMFS for an ongoing boat-based photo-id project designed to assess the population size and range characteristics of bottlenose dolphins in north San Diego County. Currently, he is the director of the California Dolphin Online Catalog which collaborates with bottlenose dolphin researchers and makes their sighting data and images from 30 years of research available online
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June 11, 2014: Dr. Tom Jefferson 

This month we are happy to feature Dr. Jefferson and his lecture, "The Vaquita: The World's Most Endangered Marine Mammal Species".

Dr. Jefferson has been studying marine mammals since 1983. His main interests include the development of marine mammal identification aids, the population ecology of the more poorly-known species of dolphins and porpoises, and the conservation and management of marine mammals threatened by human activities. He has spend many years in Southeast Asia on projects concerning the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin and the finless porpoise. He has also been an intricate player in the conservation efforts of the vaquita. 

This talk is perfect to get all of us whale-lovers ready for the upcoming International Save the Vaquita Day on July 12, 2014. Be sure not to miss this one!

May 14, 2014: Dr. Ana Sirovic

We are happy to present Dr. Sirovic and her presentation, "Can You Hear Me Now? Coping with an Increasingly Noisy Ocean".

Dr. Sirovic is a marine bioacoustician at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. In her research, she focuses on the use of acoustic methods and technologies to promote a better understanding of highly exploited and endangered marine species. Additionally, she is interested in ocean noise and the interactions between the noise and animals, specifically the effects anthropogenic activities have on marine organisms. She has also spend enough time in Antarctica to earn the Antarctic Service Medal.

Come join us for a fun night of whales, and bring a friend or two! 

 April 9, 2014: Howard Hall

ACS-San Diego is so excited to invite back multiple Emmy-award winning producers, Howard and Michele Hall! They will be presenting the film, "Seasons of the Sea" at our upcoming chapter meeting.
 
Howard and his wife, Michele, have produced several IMAX films, such as Into the Deep, as well as National Geographic specials and episodes of the PBS series Nature. Over the last 25 years, the Howard Hall Productions have filmed marine wildlife from all over the world! The Halls gave us such a great show the last time they joined us! We can't wait for this exciting evening! You don't want to miss out!

 March 12, 2014: Wayne Perryman

We are happy to have Wayne Perryman present "North Pacific Gray Whales: New Questions, New Techniques and Some New Results"!

Mr. Perryman is currently with NOAA's Southwest Fisheries Science Center. For the last decade, his research has focused on the development of aerial photographic techniques. These techniques allow for determining the number of marine mammals in large aggregations, as well as determine the size and shape of individual animals. This information is used to estimate abundance for populations of dolphins in the eastern tropical Pacific and for seals and sea lions from the California BIght to the Alueutina Islands. Changes in the condition of individuals within these poulations havel also been monitored through these developed techniques. In addition, Mr. Perryman is also very involved in monitoring reproduction in the California gray whale based on data collected from the Piedras Blancas, CA research station. Be sure not to miss out on this exciting lecture, and bring a friend!

February 12, 2014: Dr. Jay Barlow

In February, we are happy to have Dr. Jay Barlow present "Counting California's Cetaceans: How Biologists Estimate their Abundance and Determine Human Impacts". 

Dr. Barlow is a research scientist within the Protected Resources Division of Southwest Fisheries Science Center. He is the leader of the EEZ Marine Mammals and Acoustics Program and an adjunct professor at Scripps. He has served as lead scientist on 12 NOAA cruises. His research interests include assessing human impacts on marine mammals, estimating their abundance and dynamics, the roles they play in their ecosystems, and using passive acoustics for marine mammal detection.  His development of a behavioral response approach to estimating sustainable bycatch assisted in the 1994 amendment to the Marine Mammal Protection Act and earned him the Department of Commerce Gold Medal.

 January 8, 2014: Dr. John Hildebrand

We are excited to present Dr. John Hildebrand as our first speaker of 2014! Dr. Hildebrand's lecture will be titled, "Marine Mammals and Sound".

Dr. Hildebrand has been a part of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography research staff since 1983, where he also serves as professor. During his career he has contributed to over 150 publications, concerning topics such as underwater noise and sound production by marine mammals. He has spent many years looking at how sound can be used to better understand mysticete whales and their population structures. His research has shown that different characteristic sounds are associated with foraging and with mating behavior, and change from season to season. More recently, he has begun collecting long-term recordings of toothed whales, successfully using echolocation click structure for species identification and understanding population structures.