Linsey Sala: Museum Scientist & Collection Manager of the Pelagic Invertebrate Collection at Scripps Oceanography 


Dr. Catherine Nickels from Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Will be presenting: 

Addressing the euphausiid prey field and selective predation by blue whales in the southern California Current System

The California Current System (CCS) is home to up to 39 of the 86 species of euphausiid. An array of higher trophic levels rely on them for sustenance, including the blue whale, which almost exclusively feeds on these pelagic crustaceans. We will discuss the first taxonomic descriptions of mandibular morphology of eight numerically abundant CCS euphausiid species, motivated by the need to identify euphausiid remains in blue whale fecal samples. Here we present the regression relationships between euphausiid mandible size and body total length. Additionally, we have applied these euphausiid mandible identifications to the mandibles recovered from blue whale fecal samples collected between 1998 and 2015 off Southern California to determine dietary composition. Based on this work and the blue whales' extremely limited diet, we then tested the hypothesis that a local region of steep bathymetry (9-mile bank) would have a higher concentration of both whales and their preferred prey than the surrounding area. We will discuss the 3-dimensional distribution of prey around the bank feature and the co-location of the whales with their prey. Lastly, we will show a time series of preliminary spring/summer abundance data of the top blue whale euphausiid prey species.  

Linsey Sala joined Scripps Oceanography in 2010 as Museum Scientist & Collection Manager of the Pelagic Invertebrate Collection. The PIC is among the world’s preeminent collections of marine zooplankton, including more than 140,000 whole invertebrate zooplankton samples including the CalCOFI time series. Following a B.S. in Biology & Chemistry, emphasizing in insect ecology from Illinois State University, Linsey continued with a graduate degree at San Diego State University in Marine Ecology with a thesis focused on meroplanktonic invertebrate larval ecology. She specializes in the identification of holoplanktonic invertebrate zooplankton including the Euphausiacea, calanoid Copepoda, and Tunicata of the CA Current System. Linsey is inspired by how identifying organisms can indicate the health and changes within a pelagic ecosystem as it relates to fisheries science.

Dr. Catherine Nickels received her B.S. from the American University in Marine Science and Performing Arts: Theatre, followed by a Ph.D. from Scripps Institution of Oceanography in biological oceanography researching the relationship between blue whales and their euphausiid prey. Continuing at Scripps Institution of Oceanography as a postdoctoral scholar, she is currently working on analyzing active acoustic data from the Zooglider, an autonomous underwater vehicle equipped with a low power optical imaging system and dual frequency sonars. Her research is focused on the linkages between zooplankton, their environment, and their diverse predators.

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