[MARMAM] In honor of Dale W. Rice 1930-2017
sally.mizroch at bluesearesearch.org
Fri Oct 13 10:14:55 PDT 2017
Dale Rice passed away peacefully in his own home on September 13th, 2017. He had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure and advanced prostate cancer in January. Dale had planned to live at least 100 years, so he (and we) were surprised and disappointed that his life was cut short at age 87. He remained his youthful vital self until the end and enjoyed a lovely spring and summer in his house on Lake Washington.
Dale was a born naturalist. He was that kid (many of us are) who studied birds and insects. He published his first paper (Rice, D. W. 1946. Notes on the birds of Marion County. Indiana Audubon Society Yearbook 24: 40-41) when he was 16 years old.
His MS thesis from the University of Florida was his first "Life History and Ecology" paper (Rice, D. W. 1955. Life history and ecology of Myotis austroriparius. M.S., University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 74 pp.)
Dale Rice's first job as a professional research biologist was for the Denver Wildlife Research Laboratory, Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife. He was assigned to study and mitigate interactions between albatrosses and naval aircraft on Midway Island. Dale worked closely with Chandler Robbins and was part of the team which tagged "Wisdom, The Albatross", to-date the oldest known albatross. During his time on Midway, Dale and Karl Kenyon produced three landmark papers on albatross (all well worth a read):
Kenyon, K. W., and D. W. Rice. 1958. Homing of Laysan albatrosses. Condor 60: 36.
Rice, D. W., and K. W. Kenyon. 1962. Breeding cycles and behavior of Laysan and black-footed albatrosses. Auk 79: 517-567.
Rice, D. W., and K. W. Kenyon. 1962. Breeding distribution, history and populations of North Pacific albatrosses. Auk 79: 365-386.
In 1958, Karl recruited Dale to work at the newly formed marine mammal lab in Seattle. Dale's first assignment was to develop a research program studying the large whales that were caught at the California whaling stations. Here's a quote from the publication summarizing fisheries research in Seattle from 1931-1981 (Fifty Years of Cooperation and Commitment: The Northwest and Alaska Fisheries Center. NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS F/NWC 34)
"At the time Rice began whale studies, two whaling stations were in operation on San Francisco Bay at Richmond, California--one by the Del Monte Fishing Company and the other by Golden Gate Fishing Company. Much of Rice's program involved examination of whales brought into these shore stations, and this whale research continued until 1971 when the large commercial species were declared endangered and the last remaining U. S. whaling station, Del Monte, was closed.
Other parts of the whale research program involved tagging [marking] animals from chartered catcher boats, observing living whales from vessels and from shore, and analyzing catch statistics. In addition to the commercial species taken at these whaling stations, gray whales were taken under special permit. An annual census of the southward migration of the gray whales was conducted near Monterey, California, beginning 1967-68. A monograph on the life history and ecology of the gray whale was published by Rice and Wolman in 1971."
Starting in 1960, Dale represented the US at the International Whaling Commission's (IWC) Scientific Committee. Dale was also appointed as the US representative for the IWC's North Pacific Working Group, which was tasked with advising the IWC on management of whaling. Scientists from the North Pacific whaling nations, i.e., Canada, Japan, the US and the USSR, collaborated on whale marking studies and shared data freely.
Dale conducted whale marking and sightings cruises from 1962-1969. The cruises ranged from northern California (where the whaling stations were located) down to the southern tip of Baja California, and in some years out west to the Revillagigedo Archipelago. Young researcher Ken Balcomb began working with Dale on these marking cruises in 1965.
Dale's monograph on the "Life History and Ecology of the Gray Whale" was his first "magnum opus". Gray whale biology was mostly unknown until Dale proposed his gray whale research program. Dale's monograph provided baseline information about gray whale seasonal migrations, morphology, food habits and reproduction
Rice, D. W., and A. A. Wolman. 1971. The life history and ecology of the gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus). American Society of Mammalogists Special Publication, No. 3. 142p. Illus. Maps. Stillwater, OK.
The papers below are just a few other important studies that Dale produced during this time period:
Rice, D. W. 1968. Stomach contents and feeding behavior of killer whales in the eastern North Pacific. Norsk Hvalfangst-Tidende 57(2): 35-38.
Rice, D. W. 1974. Whales and whale research in the eastern North Pacific. Pages 170-195 in W. E. Schevill ed. The whale problem: a status report. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.
Rice, D. W. 1979. Bryde's whales in the equatorial Eastern Pacific. Reports of the International Whaling Commission 29: 321-324.
Rice, D. W. 1977. Sperm whales in the equatorial Eastern Pacific: population size and social organization. Reports of the International Whaling Commission 27: 333-336.
Rice, D. W. 1977. Synopsis of biological data on the sei whale and Bryde's whale in the eastern North Pacific. Reports of the International Whaling Commission (Special Issue 1): 92-97
Rice, D. W., and A. A. Wolman. 1982. Whale census in the Gulf of Alaska, June to August 1980. Reports of the International Whaling Commission 32: 491-497.
Rice, D. W. 1983. Gestation period and fetal growth of the gray whale. Reports of the International Whaling Commission 33: 539-544.
After the whaling stations closed, Dale continued to do whale surveys in many oceans. Dale's whale surveys in Mexico, Hawaii and Alaska helped initiate photo-identification studies on humpback whales.
In 1975, Dale recruited and funded Ken Balcomb to conduct killer whale surveys in Washington State. Ken began working closely with Mike Bigg and this helped launch killer whale photo-identification studies over a broad region in the Pacific Northwest.
In his later years, Dale wrote a series of scholarly works, including a number of chapters in the Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals, edited by W. F. Perrin, B. Wursig and J. G. M. Thewissen.
Dale was one of the foremost experts on sperm whales. His chapter on sperm whales in Ridgeway's Handbook of Marine Mammals is one of the leading works on sperm whales:
Rice, D. W. 1989. Sperm whale Physeter macrocephalus Linnaeus, 1758. Pages 177-233 in S. H. Ridgway and R. Harrison eds. Handbook of marine mammals, Vol. 4. River dolphins and the larger toothed whales. Academic Press, London and San Diego.
Dale's other "magnum opus" is his Special Publication on marine mammal systematics and distribution. This is our marine mammal "bible". Dale served on the Society for Marine Mammalogy's Taxonomy Committee until his death.
Rice, D. W. 1998. Marine mammals of the world: systematics and distribution. Society for Marine Mammalogy Special Publication Number 4. 231p.
On a personal note, Dale was a wonderful mentor to me when I started working at the Marine Mammal Lab in 1979. I remain inspired by the elegance and precision in his writing. His attention to detail and his reverence for careful evaluation and citation of historical and current marine mammal literature helped shaped me as a scientist.
In recent years, Dale and I have been writing comprehensive and complex papers on distribution and movements of large whales in the North Pacific. Our papers on fin whale and sperm whales are already published and we are still revising (I guess I should say that "I" am still revising) a fairly controversial paper on North Pacific sei whales. We also have a draft in progress on distribution and movements of North Pacific humpback whales.
In his final months, Dale enjoyed visits with his old friend Ken Balcomb, his super fan Jorge Urban, and another super fan Uko Gorter, as well as from Murray Johnson's son and daughter-in-law.
Dale was a very shy person, but once he got to know you, he was a witty and entertaining conversationalist. I've been friends with Dale since the early 1980s (we first published together in 1984) and I feel so extremely lucky to have spent these final months enjoying his company.
Sonja Kromann (Marine Mammal Librarian at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center) and I will be managing Dale's amazing library once the dust settles.
We also plan to set up at least one memorial fund in Dale's honor and we will be discussing logistics of this during the biennial in Halifax.
For those coming to Halifax, let's plan a lunch or dinner to talk about Dale and his legacy.
Email me (sally.mizroch at bluesearesearch.org) if you'd like to participate.
Sally A. Mizroch
Blue Sea Research
PO Box 15805
Seattle, WA 98115, USA
sally.mizroch at bluesearesearch.org
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