Oceans Initiative Year in Review 2011 HAVE A HAPPY 2012!
Our highest-profile research this year brought together a team of 8 marine mammal scientists to explore the possible impacts of the Deepwater Horizon spill on whales and dolphins. The team found that, historically, every dead dolphin on the beach probably represented 50 to 250 deaths than went undetected at sea. DEEPWATER HORIZON SPILL
Dolphinpalooza It takes a village to photograph Pacific white-sided dolphins . Last April, we were all about dolphins. Using Aeroplan miles donated to our project, our friends Don Willson and Angela Smith took us out to photograph over 1000 dolphins at the head of (a very cold) Knight Inlet in April. We shot over 10,000 photographs in a week.
Blue Whales in Patagonia Blue whales are one of the wonders of the ocean and the icons of the Save the Whales movement. We were excited to publish a paper on the conservation status of Chilean blue whales . The science is exciting, because, paradoxically, it is harder to estimate abundance of rare species than common ones, and this exercise brought together field biologists and statisticians. We're thrilled that the journal chose our article for the cover, and isn't this an amazing shot by Tui De Roy ?
Ocean Garbage Plastic doesn't belong in the ocean. We estimated that there are tens of thousands of pieces of plastic floating in BC waters alone , and mapped where trash in the ocean and marine mammals were most likely to overlap . Our hope is that these garbage patches could be targeted for clean-up or marine mammal stranding response efforts. Or better yet, let's reduce ocean garbage by buying less plastic ( Go Seattle !) and reusing what we have.
Our charitable pooling account with Aeroplan's Beyond Miles program has been an incredible way for us to do good work on a small budget. We were so honoured to give the inaugural talk in Aeroplan's Beyond Miles Speakers Series on World Oceans Day in Toronto. A big thank-you to the program's coordinator, Ms Alden Hadwen!
Rob has had an amazing time partnering with the German Antarctic Program, and now with the Australian Antarctic Program. The team flew in helicopters from icebreakers to estimate how many minke whales there are in the Antarctic ice edge. This research is vital for understanding how whales will respond to climate change. Led by Dr Meike Scheidat, they've published one paper this year, and have finished a new analysis to be submitted in 2012.
Marine Protected Areas Human impacts on the ocean are pervasive and growing. How do you begin to set priorities about which habitats to protect? We had a terrific opportunity to work with colleagues on a report to map what we know about whale & dolphin distribution in the Pacific, and compare notes with colleagues at the International Marine Mammal Marine Protected Area Conference in Martinique.
Quiet Ocean Campaign We launched our Quiet Ocean Campaign to raise awareness about ocean noise and went to the International Quiet Ocean Experiment meeting in Paris to discuss the issues with the world’s experts. Sound is as important to whales and dolphins as vision is to us. We can keeping the ocean quiet by reducing shipping. Over 90% of our goods are shipped so buying local and buying less (check out Patagonia’s Common Threads Initiative ) helps the whales.
Killer whales need salmon, but some of the Chinook salmon runs the whales need are also at risk. We published a paper this year in PLoS ONE, which estimated how much salmon the whales need to survive and to thrive.
Our Scottish home away from home, University of St Andrews , is celebrating its 600th anniversary this year, and some fancy friends came to launch the celebration. And now, our department, the Sea Mammal Research Unit , has just won the Queen's Anniversary Prize. Academically, this is the place to be, and we're lucky to be here.
Thank you so much for your support in 2011! With your help, we plan to do bigger and better things in 2012. Whether you've supported us financially, logistically (those hydrophones are heavy!), or by joining our growing social network through our newsletter, Facebook , Twitter, we can't thank you enough. Please keep in touch, have a happy holiday, and let us know what you'd like to hear more about in the new year.