This presentation is part of the Young Scientist Webinar Series, hosted by the Cape Perpetua Collaborative featuring graduate students and postdocs sharing their ocean research.
Gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) along the west coast of the United States follow a well-documented migration every year. They breed and nurse their calves in the lagoons of Baja, Mexico between September to January, before they head north to their feeding grounds in Alaska and the Arctic. Once there, whales spend the summer months feeding on zooplankton to regain crucial body mass that they have lost while on the breeding grounds. Towards the end of the summer, the population will start their migration back south, restarting the annual cycle. However, a small subset of this large population strays from the norm and does not continue all the way to Alaska. Instead, they make the waters off the coasts of northern California, Oregon, Washington and southern British Columbia their homes for the summer. Who are these individuals and why exactly do they do this? Come hear about the research that a team of Oregon State University researchers undertakes every year in Port Orford, OR to help answer some of these fundamental questions about gray whales.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER, LISA HILDEBRAND, THIRD-YEAR GRADUATE STUDENT IN THE DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES & WILDLIFE AT OSU
Lisa Hildebrand is a third-year graduate student at Oregon State University in the Department of Fisheries & Wildlife under the supervision of Dr. Leigh Torres in her Geospatial Ecology of Marine Megafauna lab. She is an international student from Germany who very quickly after moving here in the fall of 2018 fell in love with Oregon and all it has to offer. Lisa has undertaken research on a handful of marine mammal species including bottlenose dolphins, harbor seals, humpback, blue, and now, gray whales, who have become the focus of her graduate research.