Whale Survey Seminar

March 25, 2021 - 3:30 PM
HMSC Research Seminars

Humpback whales in Seaside Cove.\Photo by Tiffany

The Hatfield Marine Science Center Research Seminar Series continues online on Thursday, March 25, 3:30 p.m., with a talk by Solene Derville of the Oregon State University Marine Mammal Institute, which is based at the HMSC.  Her topic is ‘Combining aerial and boat-based surveys to model large whale habitat year-round in Oregon (OPAL project).”

Dr. Derville is a postdoctoral scholar in the GEMM (Geospatial Ecology of Marine Megafauna) Lab in the Marine Mammal Institute. She studies animal behavior and spatial ecology, the way animals interact with their environment, move and are distributed in geographical space.  Here PhD thesis, at the Sorbonne in Paris, involved the space use patterns of humpback whales.  In the GEMM Lab, she works on statistical models aimed at predicting the habitat use and distribution patterns of whales off the Oregon coast.

Her description of the webinar’s subject matter:

“Whale entanglement in fishing gear has become a pressing concern in US West Coast waters. The OPAL (Overlap Predictions About Large whales) Project led by the GEMM Lab at OSU since February, 2019 aims to produce accurate predictive models of whale distribution off the Oregon coast. In collaboration with ODFW, predictions of whale density and distribution will be applied in assessments of overlap with fishing activities to advise management efforts to reduce entanglement risk. To date, more than 70 monthly repeat surveys have been conducted onboard United States Coast Guard (USCG) helicopters flying out of stations in Astoria, Newport, and North Bend. Three years of boat-based surveys (2018-2021) onboard the R/V Oceanus and Shimada were pooled with this substantial aerial dataset to generate a year-round assessment of cetacean occurrence in Oregon from multiple platforms of observation. A distance sampling protocol allowed the estimation of whale density while accounting for variable detection and survey effort. Various statistical modeling approaches are used to generate species distribution models that relate whale occurrence with topography (depth, seabed slope, etc.) and dynamic oceanographic conditions, both remotely sensed and extracted from regional ocean modeling systems (temperature, sea level anomaly, eddy kinetics, chlorophyll-a, etc.). As the OPAL project is ongoing, I will present an update on survey efforts in the field, the analysis of distance sampling from multiple platforms and preliminary results on whale distribution models.”

For the live broadcast of the virtual seminar, go here.

Password: 972587 or call +1-971-247-1195 US Meeting ID: 945 5573 1151