[MARMAM] SMM Editors' Select Series for November 16th: Patterns of mortality in endangered Cook Inlet beluga whales: Insights from pairing a long-term photo-identification study with stranding records

Student Members-at-Large Society for Marine Mammalogy smal at marinemammalscience.org
Sat Oct 30 15:02:39 PDT 2021

Greetings MARMAM!

Join us on *Tuesday, 16 November 2021 at 2 PM AKST (3 PM PDT / 10 PM UTC)*
for the next SMM Seminar Editors' Select Series: Patterns of mortality in
endangered Cook Inlet beluga whales: Insights from pairing a long-term
photo-identification study with stranding records with Dr. Tamara McGuire
of the Cook Inlet Beluga Whale Photo-ID Project.
Free to attend. Registration required. Presented online on Zoom.
Register here:

Space on Zoom is limited to the first 500 attendees. The talk will also be
streamed live on the SMM Facebook page.

*The SMM Seminar Editors' SelectSeries highlights the latest and most
exciting marine mammal science published in the Marine Mammal Science
Journal. This is your chance to engage with marine mammal scientists, learn
and ask questions from anywhere in the world. All are welcome. *

*About this talk:*
To understand why endangered beluga whales in Cook Inlet Alaska are not
recovering despite over a decade of legal protections, we need to
understand recent demographic patterns and sources of the population’s
mortality. We used photographic records of individually identified live
belugas collected over 13 years and combined them with stranding data from
belugas found dead during the same period to assess mortality
patterns. Dead females and males were evenly represented. For both males
and females, mortality rates were greatest in reproductive-aged adults, and
there were no very-old adults. Live stranding was the most commonly
assigned cause of death, but did not account for the majority of deaths.
The cause(s) of most deaths and live strandings were undetermined. Our
analysis advances the current understanding of mortality patterns in CIBWs,
but linking a greater proportion of carcasses to photo-ID individuals and
collecting more data from stranded carcasses would further improve our
understanding of the causes of mortality in this population; we conclude
with recommendations for achieving this.

*About the presenter and co-authors:*
*Dr. Tamara McGuire* is the Principal Investigator for the Cook Inlet
Beluga Whale Photo-ID Project. She has studied marine mammals for over 25
years and is interested in habitat use, life history, behavior, and the
effects of human activities on endangered and threatened aquatic species
and their habitats. She has studied marine mammals in Alaska since 2006,
and before that on the Oregon Coast and in the Orinoco and Amazon River
Basins. She has worked with Federal, Tribal, and State agencies, NGOs, and
private industry. She led the Cook Inlet Beluga Recovery Team and is an
advocate for collaborative research. *Kim Shelden* is a marine biologist
for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration based at the Marine
Mammal Laboratory of the Alaska Fisheries Science Center. She has worked
for the Cetacean Assessment and Ecology Program since 1990 studying species
present seasonally and year-round in Alaska waters including Cook Inlet
belugas, North Pacific right whales, bowhead whales, gray whales, Pacific
white-sided dolphins, and harbor porpoise. *Dr.Gina Himes Boor* is
Assistant Research Professor in the Ecology Department Montana State
University. Her research focuses on developing models to better understand
the demographic and spatial-use patterns that contribute to the decline and
recovery of imperiled species. *Amber Stephens* has studied marine mammals
since 1998, including beluga whales, Steller sea lions, harbor seals,
narwhals, and Pacific walrus.  A CI on the CIBW Photo-ID Project, her
responsibilities include cataloging, field work, public outreach, and
website management. *John McClung* joined the Cook Inlet Beluga Whale
Photo-ID Project in 2017 and has over ten years of photo-identification
experience of cetaceans including humpback whales,melon-headed whales, and
belugas. Prior to receiving his MS in wildlife science from Oregon State
University, he served 26 years in the U.S. Air Force. *Christopher Garner*
is a biologist for the Department of Defense at Joint Base
Elmendorf-Richardson. He has studied beluga and harbor porpoise in upper
Cook Inlet since 2001 with emphasis on beluga ecology within rivers
emptying into a hypertidal region as well as the effects of military
activity on marine mammals and their prey. *Dr. Carrie Goertz* is the
Director of Animal Health at the Alaska SeaLife Center where she oversees
veterinary care for animals in the aquarium and out in the field, working
with sea birds, fish, invertebrates, sea otters, seals, sea lions, beluga,
and other marine animals. *Dr. Kathy Burek Huntington* has been the
pathologist for the Alaska stranding program and in particular for the Cook
Inlet belugas for 23 years and works collaboratively with the rest of the
stranding network throughout Alaska. She is particularly interested in
emerging pathogens, harmful algal bloom toxins, pathology, the
intersections of these topics with climate change, and mentoring young
scientists in pathology. *Dr. Greg O’Corry-Crowe* is a behavioral ecologist
and geneticist focused on marine mammals and conservation. He runs the
Wildlife Evolution andBehavior (WEB) program at Harbor Branch Oceanographic
Institute and is a research professor at Florida Atlantic University. *Bruce
Wright* is an ecologist with the Knik Tribe whose work focuses on Alaska
marine and terrestrial top predators.

Best regards,
Eric Angel Ramos, Ph.D. Candidate
*Ayça Eleman, Ph.D. *Candidate
*Theresa-Anne Tatom-Naecker, Ph.D. Student*
*Student Members-at-Large*
Society for Marine Mammalogy
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