Director of CCWG, Ross Clark interviewed by The CSU’s ‘Newswise’

Ross Clark, director of SJSJ/MLML's Central Coast Wetlands Group (CCWG), talks with The CSU's Newswise about sea level rise and how these changes are predicted to affect California beaches. Mr. Clark further explains that there are much bigger impacts to consider such as the elimination of our estuaries, "[we] may lose some of those nurseries. And much of the fishing industry is located in our coastal harbors, which are vulnerable in many ways", says Mr. Clark. Full story here: Bye-Bye, Beaches

CA Academy of Sciences Highlights 2 New Skate Species Described by Dr. Dave Ebert

In 2019, research faculty and director of the Pacific Shark Research Center, Dr. David Ebert, worked with colleagues to describe two new species of skates. As a research associate with the California Academy of Sciences (CAS), this work was highlighted in a recent press release from CAS which recognized 71 newly discovered species this year by their scientists. The image on the left is Leucoraja elaineae, common name Elaine's Skate, and comes from the Western Indian Ocean. The image on the right is, Dipturus lamillai, common name Warrah Skate inhabit; it's from the surrounding waters of the Falkland Islands.

Dr. Tom Connolly Collaborates with MBARI on 3yr Time Series Study

Dr. Tom Connolly collaborated with our neighbors at MBARI for a study published this year in the journal of Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography. The research focuses on the hydrozoan medusa, Benthocodon pedunculatathe within the abyssal Northeast Pacific habitat. Part of this work observed currents from the benthic boundary layer which shed light on the ecological importance of this species of zooplankton.

For more on this three year study, follow the link to their paper: Gelatinous zooplankton abundance and benthic boundary layer currents in the abyssal Northeast Pacific: A 3-yr time series study

MPSL, mussels and shipwrecks, oh my!

SJSU/MLML's Marine Pollution Studies Lab has analyzed mussels growing near shipwrecks that are now leaching trace metals. Originally, these ships were used roughly 90 years ago during the Prohibition to smuggle Canadian whiskey. For more on this history of the shipwrecks, read this article in San Luis Obispo Tribune.

Dec. 12th Lecture on Seaweed by Jeffrey Hughey at the Pacific Grove Natural History Museum

"What’s in a Name? Seaweed" by Jeffery Hughey from Hartnell College
Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History
Thursday, December 12th, 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

The ICN (International Code of Nomenclature for fungi, algae, and plants) states that species names are based on type specimens. These are either a single specimen conserved in a herbarium or museum, or a published or unpublished illustration. Unfortunately, type specimens are not always thoroughly examined prior to the use of a name. This has led to the gross misapplication of names in peer-reviewed scientific papers for the last 100 or more years. In his talk, Dr. Jeffery Hughey from Hartnell College will discuss his recent findings from analyzing the DNA of seaweed type specimens, as well as summarize the naming of new species, and the identification of collections of invasive seaweeds in the Monterey Bay.  More info here.


Whalefest Monterey 2020

The 10th Annual Whalefest Montere Festival will be held the weekend of January  25th-26th, 2020 at Old Fisherman's Wharf. MLML students routinely participate in this event by having an outreach table present with marine life specimens on display. The festival enjoys participation from MLML because we provide both cetacean and non-cetacean specimens. For more information contact MLML's Assistant to the Director, Kathleen Donahue.

Thesis Defense by Brijonnay Madrigal – December 13th

Determining ecotype presence and the call repertoire of killer whales (Orcinus orca) from passive acoustic monitoring near Point Hope, Alaska in the Southeastern Chukchi Sea

A Thesis Defense by Brijonnay Madrigal

The Vertebrate Ecology Lab

Friday, December 13th, 2019 at 4pm

MLML Seminar Room

Brijonnay Madrigal is a master's student working under the co-advisement of Alison Stimpert and Birgitte McDonald in the Vertebrate Ecology Lab. She graduated from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa in 2016 with a B.S. in Marine Biology and a B.A. in Communication. Prior to her time at Moss Landing, as an undergraduate and Ernest F. Hollings scholar, she completed a research internship at the NOAA Southeast Fisheries Science Center, where she determined sperm whale abundance from passive acoustic monitoring. She later worked as a research assistant for a project conducted in collaboration with both the U.S. Navy and the Hawai’i Institute of Marine Biology Marine Mammal Research Program, to assess dolphin presence through whistle detection at a sonar detonation sites off O'ahu, Hawai'i. Throughout her time at MLML, in addition to her thesis work, she conducted a passive acoustic study to determine acoustic behavior and repertoire composition of Risso's dolphin in the Monterey Bay. She enjoys education and outreach and has worked at the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary as a volunteer coordinator and educator for more than three years. Driven by her passion for marine mammal acoustics she developed a K-12 program called "Listen up!" to educate kids about marine mammals and sounds in the ocean.

Thesis Abstract:
As apex predators, killer whales (Orcinus orca), can have large impacts on ecosystems through top-down predation. In the North Pacific, three genetically distinct ecotypes exist that differ in diet, range, morphology, and vocal behavior. Killer whales are known to occur in the Chukchi Sea but, few data exist regarding ecotypes present. Since killer whale ecotypes differ in vocal behavior, they can be distinguished based on call type, call rate, and bandwidth. An Autonomous Underwater Recorder for Acoustic Listening (AURAL) device was deployed 75 km off Point Hope, Alaska in the southeastern Chukchi Sea to identify which killer whale ecotypes were present in this region. A total of 1315 killer whale calls were detected on 38 days during the summers of 2013 to 2015. Calls were manually grouped into six categories based on the general call contours: multi-part, downsweep, upsweep, modulated, single modulation and tonal. The majority of detections were tonal calls (n = 607, 46%), and multi-part calls (n = 351, 27%) that contained high frequency and low frequency components. Comparison of the current call dataset with published literature showed similarities in peak frequency with other transient populations. These results indicate occasional presence of transient killer whales in the southeastern Chukchi Sea. This study provides the first comprehensive, catalogue of transient killer whale vocalizations in this region.

Brijonnay Madrigal Presents: Determining ecotype presence and the call repertoire of killer whales (Orcinus orca) from passive acoustic monitoring near Point Hope, Alaska in the Southeastern Chukchi Sea

Thesis Defense by Sharon Hsu – December 13th

Using stable isotopes to determine foraging areas of leatherback turtles: limitations of the isotope tracking technique in the western Atlantic Ocean

A Thesis Defense by Sharon Hsu

The Vertebrate Ecology Lab

Friday, December 13th, 2019 at 12pm

MLML Seminar Room

Sharon's love for the ocean started at a young age. She grew up playing in the tidepools and she has never lived far from the water. Sharon received her B.S. in Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution from UC San Diego, and then spent a number of years working abroad, first as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Republic of Vanuatu and later as a project coordinator for a sea turtle conservation group in Costa Rica and volunteer coordinator for various conservation projects. Her research interests include reproductive energetics of sea turtles and the use of stable isotopes to understand migration and foraging patterns. Sharon is currently working on establishing a collaborative project with biologists from Costa Rica.

Thesis Abstract:

Reproductive output has long been linked to habitat quality and resource availability. Individuals foraging in high-quality habitats with high resource availability will have better body conditions and higher survival rates, as well as greater reproductive output. Post-nesting, Western Caribbean leatherback turtles are known to migrate to at least two foraging regions: the western North Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. This study had three objectives: [1] conduct a comprehensive review of existing stable isotope data and create a map of isotope values, or “isoscapes” to use as a reference for the western North Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico; [2] use stable isotope analysis (SIA) to examine bulk skin stable carbon and stable nitrogen as indicators of foraging region for nesting turtles in Parismina, Costa Rica; and [3] assess the differences of foraging region on female body size and reproductive output. Synthesized isoscapes showed substantial variation between taxa and sampling regions. Specifically for leatherbacks, stable carbon values were higher in the Gulf of Mexico than the western North Atlantic, but no other consistent trends were distinguishable. It was not possible to infer foraging region for skin samples collected in Parismina based on stable isotope values, nor was there a relationship between stable carbon values and reproductive output. This study highlighted the need for more stable isotope data and longer-term reproductive data collection. Although I was unable to validate it as a primary technique to study leatherback movements between nesting and foraging grounds, SIA still holds important conservation value for leatherbacks in conjunction with satellite tracking.

Sharon Hsu Presents: Using stable isotopes to determine foraging areas of leatherback turtles: limitations of the isotope tracking technique in the western Atlantic Ocean