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Museum of Zoology, Cambridge
Downing Street, CB2 3EJ Cambridge, Cambridgeshire
A discussion about the whale conservation in the Zoology department under the Whale!
Speakers: Danny Buss & Hannah Cubaynes
''Population diversity and foraging differentiation of Sei whales in the Falkland Archipelago — before and after whaling.'' — D. Buss
A good understanding of the historic distribution, structure and ecology of a given population provides a vital baseline for determining recovery rates and informing population assessments for conservation management. Despite extensive whaling records providing good information on species distributions prior to exploitation, the genetic diversity, structure and trophic niche of the sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis) is relatively unknown.
Whalebones discarded at various locations across the polar South Atlantic have been used to understand ‘pre-exploitation’ population diversity, connectivity and foraging differentiation (inferred from isotopes). Whilst, B.borealis biopsy and fecal samples obtained from the Falkland Islands during 2016-2018 have been used to understand
contemporary population diversity, connectivity and foraging differentiation in this region.
Here, I present the results of the very first B.borealis sequenced in the polar South Atlantic and compare current population genetic diversity and foraging niche with ‘pre-exploitation’ populations from the early 1900s.
'Whales from space" — H. Cubaynes
Satellites orbiting 600km (approx. 370 miles) away from Earth could potentially provide new and invaluable information for whale conservation. Satellites can access places, which are difficult to reach by boats or planes, but where whales might be. Some satellites can now take very high resolution images, where one pixel is 31 by 31 cm. Large-sized animals such as whales are made of several pixels on such satellite images, therefore they could be detected from space. With a team of researchers at the British Antarctic Survey and Scott Polar Research Institute, we are testing the feasibility of using satellite images as a reliable method to study whales in remote locations. We showed that several species could be detected, and sometimes with great details. For some individuals, we could see their flippers and fluke. Currently we are focusing on automating the detection of fin whales in the Mediterranean to help with a European project to limit the ship strikes.