Cetacean Health and Life History Program Staff

Cetacean Health and Life History Program l Publications

Wayne Perryman AntarcticaWayne Perryman, Program Leader
Southwest Fisheries Science Center
Cetacean Health and Life History Program
Phone: (858) 546-7014
Fax: (858)546-7003
E-mail: Wayne.Perryman@noaa.gov

 The focus of my research over the past decade or so has been to develop aerial photographic techniques that will allow us to accurately count the numbers of marine mammals in large aggregations, and to also determine the size and shape of individual animals. The count data that we collect form an integral part of the abundance estimates for populations of dolphins in the eastern tropical Pacific and for seals and sea lions from the California Bight to the Aleutians. We have recently demonstrated that our measurements of sizes and shapes of whales (gray whales and right whales so far) can be used to track changes in fatness or condition of individuals in these populations. In addition to the photographic program, I am also very involved in monitoring reproduction in the California gray whale based on survey data collected from the research station at Piedras Blancas, California.

Publications


Jim GilpatrickJim Gilpatrick
Southwest Fisheries Science Center
Cetacean Health and Life History Program
Phone: (858) 546-7195
Fax: (858)546-7003
E-mail: Jim.Gilpatrick@noaa.gov

 I began my work with NOAA in the early nineteen-eighties as a Fisheries Biologist aboard tropical tuna purse-seiners. This enabled me to witness a dynamic fishery and to observe the rich biodiversity of marine fauna found in pelagic waters of the eastern tropical Pacific (ETP). These experiences fueled my interest to support and conduct research on the morphology and life history of ETP dolphins. The studies later provided a better understanding of geographic range and structure of dolphin populations involved in the ETP yellowfin tuna fishery

Present research involves the use of fishery and aerial photogrammetric data to investigate biological parameters for blue whale populations. Morphometric analyses support delineation of exploited populations based on clear differences in the lengths of blue whales sampled in different regions of the Pacific and Southern Oceans. Morphological data will further be used to evaluate the biological condition of blue whales during certain years and seasons.

Current field efforts also include aerial photography of ETP dolphins to help resolve questions on school and geographic structure. Additionally, I support our Division in aerial photogrammetric surveys of other rorquals and pinniped and sea bird populations around the Pacific. Free time spent surfing, reading the history of Latin America and watching my two boys play tackle football. 


Morgan LynnMorgan Lynn
Southwest Fisheries Science Center
Cetacean Health and Life History Program
Phone: (858) 546-7194
Fax: (858)546-7003
E-mail: morgan.lynn@noaa.gov

 I’ve been with Wayne since he started the group in 1986. My degree in Marine Biology and hobbies of photography and building things made it a perfect fit. I consider myself the “Jack of all Trades” in the group and participate in just about every project. Mostly I’m involved in the collection of the images (love field work!) and the counting and measurement of the animals. Although our camera systems are perfect for what we do, they have required a bit of modification from their original state.  Although the old film reconnaissance cameras have given us years of service, I am currently involved in adapting new digital technologies to our Photogrammetric missions.

 


      

Schill

LTjg Kelly Schill
Southwest Fisheries Science Center
Cetacean Health and Life History Program
Phone: (858) 564-7077
Fax: (858) 546-7003
Email: Kelly.Schill@noaa.gov


I joined SWFSC in October 2012 after completing three years at sea as a NOAA Corps officer aboard the NOAA Ship Pisces, stationed out of Pascagoula, MS.   Prior to joining the service I worked as a physical scientist developing geospatial visualizations to assist in the generation of navigational warnings and maritime safety information for Dangers to Navigation for NOAA and contractor surveys.   Fortunately, I now have the opportunity to participate in the gray whale migration studies through aerial photogrammetry as well as assist with response to marine mammal strandings, maintain the Cetacean Health and Life History Program webpage, and many more exciting projects.


 

Susan ChiversSusan Chivers
Southwest Fisheries Science Center
Cetacean Health and Life History Program
Phone: 858-546-7093
FAX: (858)546-7003
e-mail: Susan.Chivers@noaa.gov

 

My research focuses on cetacean life history and population structure. I am particularly interested in conservation biology and how these two disciplines allow us to improve conservation plans for cetacean species by better understanding their natural history and ecology. Data collected by scientists aboard our research cruises, by observers aboard fishing vessels, and by participants in the stranding networks, contribute information about species distributions and their oceanographic habitats. These also give us tissue material to quantify life history parameters and to identify population subunits using molecular genetic tools. My research has focused on understanding the:

  • Population structure of harbor porpoise, false killer whales, and short-finned pilot whales
  • Population structure and ecology of common dolphins
  • Life history characteristics of small delphinid species
Selected Publications

Kerri DanilKerri Danil
Southwest Fisheries Science Center
Cetacean Health and Life History Program
Phone: 858-546-7001
FAX: (858)546-7003
e-mail: Kerri.Danil@noaa.gov

 

I began working at SWFSC in 1998 as an at-sea oceanographer for dolphin surveys in the eastern tropical Pacific. In 1999, I moved from the Ecosystem Studies Program to the Life History Program, where I now work on marine mammal life history and health. However, I still like to go back to my oceanographic roots to explore how marine mammal health or life history parameters may be linked with changes in the environment. Much of my time is spent working with cetaceans incidentally killed in fisheries or stranded along our coast. Outside of work, I spend my time enjoying my family, decompressing with yoga, and surfing when I can.

Current projects:

* Causes of mortality in stranded cetaceans
* Life history of Delphinus spp. off California
* Aging Delphinus teeth using video microscopy and image analysis software

 Selected Publications


Nick_KellarNick Kellar
Southwest Fisheries Science Center
Cetacean Health and Life History Program
Phone 858 546 7090
Fax 858 546 7003
e-mail: nick.kellar@noaa.gov

 My research encompasses a range of biological disciplines from reproductive physiology and biochemistry to population biology; however the focus is fairly specific. I measure biomarkers, mostly hormones, from small skin samples of free-ranging cetaceans, to help assess population health, demography, and reproduction

So why do this? Well first you need to step into the shoes of a field biologist for a moment. Imagine you are on the bow of a research ship, and just a few dozen feet before you are a thousand spotted dolphins, zigging and zagging, leaping and diving. At any given moment, only a fraction of the school is visible from the surface. Each animal comes up just long enough to breathe, then disappears again. Now imagine trying to estimate how many dolphins are in that school let alone, how many are young or old, male or female, pregnant or not pregnant. It seems next to impossible, doesn’t it?


To help us, we employ a darting technique that takes a small piece of skin and blubber called a biopsy. This technique lets us obtain up to fifty biopsies in a single day. Back in the lab, we analyze the levels of steroid hormones in the blubber using laboratory procedures developed here at SWFSC. From this analysis, we can determine if an animal is pregnant, sexually mature, or even if it is likely experiencing chronic stress response. We use these findings to assess the relative health of dolphin and whale populations relative to potential anthropogenic disturbances such a pollution, fishing pressure, and acoustic perturbations from sonar use, shipping traffic, and oil exploration.

Selected Publications  


Paula OlsonPaula Olson
Southwest Fisheries Science Center
Cetacean Health and Life History Program
Phone: 858-546-5616
FAX: (858)546-7003
e-mail: Paula.Olson@noaa.gov

 

 Field work with cetaceans and sea turtles has taken me to tropical and temperate regions of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans as well as the polar seas of the Arctic and Antarctic. I first came to the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in 1992 as a field biologist for a dolphin survey in the eastern tropical Pacific. Currently I alternate between the ETP Cetacean Assessment Program and the Cetacean Health and Life History Program. In addition to collecting data for these programs, I use photo-identification as a tool to investigate the geographic movement and stock structure of killer whales and blue whales in the ETP. When I’m not working I enjoy running, hiking, and camping. 

Selected Publications


Dave Weller photoDave Weller
Southwest Fisheries Science Center
Cetacean Health and Life History Program
Phone: (858) 546-5674
Fax: (858)546-7003
E-mail: Dave.Weller@noaa.gov


I have nearly 25 years of experience studying the biology and ecology of marine mammals. My specialization is focused in the areas of behavioral ecology, population assessment and evaluation of potential disturbance impacts from human activities. I presently direct two well-established research programs that include: 1) an ongoing study of the behavior, ecology and population dynamics of a critically endangered population of western Pacific gray whales off Far East Russia; and 2) an ongoing study of the behavioral ecology and population dynamics of coastal bottlenose dolphins off California. Recently, I have been working closely with the International Whaling Commission, World Conservation Union (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.

Selected Publications


John DurbanJohn Durban
Southwest Fisheries Science Center
Cetacean Health and Life History Program
Phone: (858) 546-2866
Fax: (858)546-7003
E-mail: John.Durban@noaa.gov 

 

My research focuses on the population ecology of cetaceans, including assessments of abundance and demographics using photographic mark-recapture methods; photogrammetric studies of individual size, growth and body condition; and analysis of movement patterns using photo-identification and satellite telemetry. I currently work on the population assessment of eastern North Pacific gray whales, the ecosystem role of killer whales in the North Pacific and Antarctic, and the response of beaked whales to Navy sonar exposure. I combine field-based data collection with the development of custom statistical analysis tools to inform current management and conservations issues.

Selected Publications

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Marisa Trego
Southwest Fisheries Science Center
Cetacean Health and Life History Program
Phone: (858) 546-7066
Fax: (858)546-7003
E-mail: Marisa.Trego@noaa.gov   

 

My primary research interest is marine mammal health and toxicology. Since 2003 I have assisted in the development and implementation of a novel technique to extract molecular biomarkers from marine mammal blubber in order to gather valuable life history and health information. Our primary focus has been pregnancy diagnosis in free-ranging cetaceans but we have begun investigating new areas of research, such as chronic stress and other indicators of health in marine mammals. My role in the marine mammal molecular life history group is to manage and conduct the labwork in a variety of projects. In addition to life history research I have expanded my laboratory repertoire to include several different genetic techniques, most recently by assisting with sequencing for the core genetics lab. Furthermore, I have been able to take advantage of the occasional opportunity to do fieldwork where I have learned to biopsy marine mammals, perform marine mammal necropsies, and assist with counts of migrating gray whales. 




 

 


 

 

 

 

Last modified: 12/24/2014