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Brandon L. Southall
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Hi everyone -- two important things to announce here. First, we are all aboard the R/V Truth (below) and our sister sailing ship with towed passive acoustics ready to go for the second leg of SOCAL-11 starting tomorrow at dawn. While it looks like it will be a little windy to start tomorrow, it should be coming down and the longer range forecast looks quite good. We will be focusing on offshore species like beaked whales and Risso's dolphins if the conditions allow, as well as mysticetes (blue and fin whales) in deeper water areas. If we get well offshore... Continue reading
Posted Sep 16, 2011 at SEA Blog
Related to the overall effort and progress mentioned in the last post, here is some information on a meeting I attended on acoustic monitoring technologies: The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, Gulf of Mexico Region, announces the availability of a new study report titled: Status and Applications of Acoustic Mitigation and Monitoring Systems for Marine Mammals: Workshop Proceedings (OCS Study BOEMRE 2011-002). This report releases the proceedings of a November 2009 workshop that explored the capabilities and limitations of using passive and active acoustic systems to monitor and help mitigate adverse impacts of marine mammals in offshore... Continue reading
Posted Sep 11, 2011 at SEA Blog
Hello everyone. I wanted me to call to your attention a Special Session at the 2012 AGU Ocean Sciences Meeting in Salt Lake City (http://www.sgmeet.com/osm2012/special_sessions13.asp). This session continues a number of ongoing efforts, including the International Quiet Ocean Experiment meeting held at UNESCO in Paris last week I attended, regarding the integration of acoustic monitoring capabilities into ocean observing systems. 171: Acoustical Applications for Ocean Observing Systems Organizers: Bruce Howe, University of Hawaii at Manoa, bhowe@hawaii.edu; Sue Moore, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, sue.moore@noaa.gov; Brandon Southall, Southall Environmental Associates, Inc., Brandon.Southall@sea-inc.net The oceans are largely transparent to sound, hence oceanographic,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 11, 2011 at SEA Blog
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We have come to the end of the first leg of SOCAL-11. We worked offshore the last two days based on the forecast of light winds and calm seas, but this didn't entirely materialize. We worked up by Santa Barbara Island in relatively low winds but moderate swell, looking and listening for beaked whales in deepwater canyons. By noon the winds had come up enough to eliminate chances for locating and tagging beaked whales and we switched gears to try for more coastal species in the lee of the northern Channel Islands. We didn't find them there, but yesterday we... Continue reading
Posted Aug 13, 2011 at SEA Blog
Well our offshore weather forecast didn't really pan out yesterday but we came close on a few priority species today. We worked up from Catalina by Santa Barbara Island yesterday and had very good weather in the morning and searched for about 8 hours for beaked whales in workable weather, but as we got into the Santa Cruz Basin the wind picked up on top of the swell and other than a few fin whale sightings it was a wash of a day. This morning we woke up in the shaddow of a massive cliff under misty fog on the... Continue reading
Posted Aug 11, 2011 at SEA Blog
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We've had some pretty good conditions in deeper water the last few days and have had success finding baleen whales in deeper water and have spent a lot of time searching for beaked whales as well. From the picture below you can see the calm conditions we have had in 800-1000m kinds of water. This has been great in terms of focusing on some key species in areas more like where they might be more likely to encounter real sonar. For today and tomorrow (our last day of the first leg), we hope to have this weather in 1500m canyons... Continue reading
Posted Aug 10, 2011 at SEA Blog
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Hey everyone. We've been working hard out here for the first 10 days of SOCAL-11, but we have also been having a little fun along the way and thought we would share a few photos from our team (including Cuidado the lucky gator) and places we have been. Continue reading
Posted Aug 7, 2011 at SEA Blog
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We had good weather offshore today and we tried for most of the day well offshore in good visibility species looking for beaked whales. We surveyed fairly large areas of offshore banks and basins looking and listening, but didn't have any luck. We came across several small groups and single blue and fin whales offshore and an aggregation feeding up on the shelf and by the end of the day we found a small group of blue whales feeding in quite deep water well offshore. The photo to the right shows a tag on the left side of a blue... Continue reading
Posted Aug 7, 2011 at SEA Blog
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We've had fairly good to excellent seas offshore the past few days and have put in some time trying to work some of our more difficult/less common species like beaked whales and sperm whales. In some of these offshore areas we might expect to find Risso's dolphins or fin whales as well. Yesterday we had a number of likely detections of beaked whales with a few brief surface series, but these were single individuals and despite some concerted efforts we didn't manage to tag one. We have continued to maintain our mode of flexibility, though and later in the day... Continue reading
Posted Aug 7, 2011 at SEA Blog
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Yesterday we attched one of the new generation DTags on a Risso's dolphin for almost nine hours and conducted a perfect CEE. This was the longest successful attachment to date with the new version tags on offshore odontocetes and the first on a Risso's. Below is a shot of the tag riding on the back of the animal who was in a group of about 20 that we followed most of the day. Rissos dolphins are among our focal species for SOCAL-11 experiments. We conducted one CEE on this species last year in SOCAL-10 and have been hoping for more... Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2011 at SEA Blog
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In the last few days we have had a number of our suction cup acoustic tags slide around and ultimately off blue whales that we have tagged. This isn't new or entirely unexpected, given that these animals, like all cetaceans, shed layers of skin quite rapidly. Attaching anything to animals that have had tens of millions of years to become streamlined to live and move in water is no trivial feat, especially with suction cups on animals shedding skin. We have managed to overcome this in many instances and have gotten a large amount of data already in the first... Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2011 at SEA Blog
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Day five of SOCAL-11 and we have managed to attach eleven suction cup tags on ten different individuals and conduct CEEs on six different individuals. So far we have just worked on blue whales in several different area, in part because the offshore weather hasn't enabled us to focus much on some of the deeper water toothed whales. Two blue whales just off the southern CA coast (J. Calambokidis, Cascadia Research. Taken under NMFS permit #14534) We did see some fin whales today and now have an additional passive acoustic listening system being towed behind a quiet sailboat to try... Continue reading
Posted Aug 3, 2011 at SEA Blog
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Hi everyone, My name is Elliott Hazen and I currently work for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s Environmental Research Division’s lab. Before that, I worked at Duke with Ari Friedlaender which is where I became involved with marine mammals and tagging. I am leading a small research project measuring prey and oceanographic variables around the tagged whales, before and after acoustic playbacks. The main task of my job is to understand which physical features are correlated with denser prey, and how these factors influence the whale behavior measured by the tag. These data can be used to inform our... Continue reading
Posted Aug 2, 2011 at SEA Blog
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We started out today in really dense fog - so thick that we had to pull our visual observers off effort and start up the fog horn. We pushed pretty far off shore west of Redondo Beach to get out of the fog, looking for offshore odontocete species like Risso's dolphins or beaked whales. We didn't find any and the wind picked up a little bit but thankfully, in addition to reducing our sighting conditions, it blew the fog back ashore and we could move back into areas where we thought we might find blue whales. We did, although initially... Continue reading
Posted Aug 1, 2011 at SEA Blog
We started in the shaddow of beautiful Santa Cruz island this morning and picked of the flying fish we had been watching around our boat last night off the deck. Conditions were reasonably favorable south of Santa Cruz and Anacapa and we searched in deeper waters for some of the focal odontocete species like beaked or sperm whales or Risso's dolphins, but did not locate any. So we continued back toward the mainland and began to work in several canyons where we encountered large numbers of blue and fin whales last year. Around mid-day we managed to tag two blue... Continue reading
Posted Jul 31, 2011 at SEA Blog
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We pushed off from Pt. Sal at dawn in a cool mist - it's a small and uninhabited point north of Vandenberg AFB that we shared with a colony of sea lions for the evening. On the way out we saw a number of them and a harbor porpoise, then several groups of humpback whales. This included the mother and calf pair in the pictures below that were both repeatedly breaching in turns while the mother was slapping her pectoral fins on the surface. [Note: these pictures, like any others of animals taken for SOCAL-11 and posted here or on... Continue reading
Posted Jul 30, 2011 at SEA Blog
Short post here as we are in pretty spotty coverage off shore, but wanted to note that we succeeded in tagging two individual blue whales off Pt. Arguello just north of Point Conception today. Favorable offshore weather and good concentrations of animals enabled us to find multiple possible groups and attach a suction cup tag from each RHIB. After about three hours of baseline behavioral measurements and finding the right location to deploy the sound source in the right proximity to the whales but away from non-target animals. Quite a bit of time was spent getting away from a large... Continue reading
Posted Jul 29, 2011 at SEA Blog
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We are about to kick off the most recent phase of our biological and behavioral response studies of marine mammals in southern California. SOCAL-11 is second field season of a multi-year (2010-2014) interdisciplinary study, more generally referred to as “SOCAL-BRS” (Behavioral Response Study), of basic behavior and responses to controlled sound exposures in a variety of marine mammal species. The overall objective is to provide a better scientific basis for estimating risk and minimizing effects of active sonar for the U.S. Navy and regulatory agencies. SOCAL-BRS is part of a larger international collaboration to measure the impacts of noise marine... Continue reading
Posted Jul 29, 2011 at SEA Blog
Last year I was fortunate to be involved in the innaugural meeting centered around the concept of an International Quiet Ocean Experiment in Rhode Island. We recently published an article in Oceanography regarding the outcomes of this meeting. You can find this article available on-line at: http://www.tos.org/oceanography/archive/24-2_boyd_il.pdf If you are interested in this idea, please note that there is a follow-on meeting in Paris later this year, which you can find more information about at: http://www.iqoe-2011.org/ Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2011 at SEA Blog
FYI -- some recent interesting developments in tidal power, including the deployment of a new research support vessel by Ocean Renewable Power Company. Please see: http://social.tidaltoday.com/intelligence-brief/fortnightly-intelligence-brief-9-june-%E2%80%93-22-june-2011 Ocean Renewable Power had a chance to show off its research vessel and beta tidal turbine this month at the Portland Ocean Terminal. The boat and turbine were open to the public to tour, according to Maine news reports. The turbine prototype is less than half the size of the actual turbine that ORPC plans to install by the end of the year on the ocean floor in Cobscook Bay's 100-foot deep waters. Jim... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2011 at SEA Blog
A cross-disciplinary partnership of several of us working to advance the implementation of vessel-quieting technologies on large commercial ships recently gave an update presentation on progress within the International Maritime Organization at the IMCC2 meeting in Victoria, BC <see: http://www.conbio.org/IMCC2011/>. The title of the presentation and abstract is given below, as well as the authorship (but note that Michael Jasny actually gave this talk on our behalf). 18:15 Ongoing efforts to reduce underwater noise from large commercial ships. Brandon Southall , SEA, Inc. and University of California, Santa Cruz; Kathy Metcalf Chamber of Shipping of America; Leila Hatch National Oceanic... Continue reading
Posted Jun 4, 2011 at SEA Blog
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With some of our partners including Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC) and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratoy (PNNL), SEA is increasingly working on offshore alternative energy issues including marine hydrokinetic technologies. These rapidly evolving systems offer the potential (and now the reality) of obtaining clean and renewable energy from the movement of water (both salt and fresh) without the use of dams. A very interesting and comprehensive recent article on these technologies and the work underway to understand and mitigate their environmental impacts (which features some of the work being done by ORPC and PNNL) is avilable at: http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2011/05/hydro-fishing-for-evidence-identifying-how-marine-and-hydrokinetic-devices-affect-aquatic-environments Continue reading
Posted Jun 4, 2011 at SEA Blog
SEA Bloggers, Two recent multimedia pieces on different marine mammal issues have come out recently I thought I would bring to your attention. Both of these involved some contribution from our colleagues at Wharton Media, who continue to make fantastic contributions to public awareness and appreciation of natural history and of science. The first piece is on a species near and dear to my heart, northern elephant seals: http://www.kqed.org/quest/television/into-the-deep-with-elephant-seals The second is a CBC documentary on mysteries of the deep, which includes some of the fantastic work by another of our colleagues, Dan Costa at UC Santa Cruz: http://oneocean.cbc.ca/series/episodes/3-mysteries-of-the-deep Both... Continue reading
Posted Jun 1, 2011 at SEA Blog
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The 161st meeting of the Acoustical Society of America will take place in Seattle, WA later this month. Dr. Brandon Southall, SEA Inc. president, will give three technical presentations at this meeting, one of them entitled: "Listening to the Ocean and Marine Life Using a Fiber-Optic Monitoring System" The concept is the integration of acoustic monitoring systems into a state-of-the-art fiber-optic cabled system being deployed off Washington and Oregon for the next 25 years. A "layperson" summary of the presentation was prepared for general public and media interest in the subject, which is available at: http://www.aip.org/asa_laypapers2011/Southall.html Continue reading
Posted May 14, 2011 at SEA Blog
A new paper entitled "The Relationship among Oceanography, Prey Fields, and Beaked Whale Foraging Habitat in the Tongue of the Ocean" was just published in PLosOne. This excellent work was part of our multidisciplinary collaboration to study marine mammal biology and behaivoral responses in the Bahamas in 2007-08 <see: http://www.sea-inc.net/science/#brs> You can get the full text of the paper (Open Access) by Elliot Hazen et al at the below link; the paper abstract is copied below as well. http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0019269 Abstract Beaked whales, specifically Blainville's (Mesoplodon densirostris) and Cuvier's (Ziphius cavirostris), are known to feed in the Tongue of the Ocean,... Continue reading
Posted May 4, 2011 at SEA Blog