Saturday, May 16, 2009

American Cetacean Society Speaker Series

If you are in the Puget Sound region, I highly recommend going to one of the events put on by the Puget Sound Chapter of the American Cetacean Society. The next one is happening on Wednesday, May 20th in Seattle, Washington. This free event is held in Room 6 at the Phinney Neighborhood Center (6532 Phinney Ave. N., Seattle). Doors open at 7 and the program begins at 7:30. See below for program description -- and witty title!

Tales from the field: The lifestyle of a not so rich and famous marine mammal observer

Laura Morse, of NOAA Fisheries Service's National Marine Mammal Lab, will talk about what it's like to live in the field and her experiences on projects around the world. She will share photos, video and acoustic recordings of the rare and beautiful species studied and observed.

Laura Morse joined the Cetacean Assessment and Ecology Program at the National Marine Mammal in the spring of 2008. Laura is the field team leader for aerial surveys conducted in the Beaufort and Chukchi Sea and provides support for additional field research effort within CAEP. Laura has degrees in biology and anthropology from SUNY, Buffalo, NY and is currently working on a Masters in Coastal Zone Management through Nova Southeastern University, Florida. Prior to joining NMML, Laura spent the past 14 years working as a marine mammal field biologist worldwide on aerial, shipboard and land/ice based projects. She has participated in multiple large scale cetacean abundance surveys throughout US waters, the Norwegian Sea, Southern Ocean, Western Pacific, Indian Ocean and Asian waters and has specialized experience in field identification, photo-id and passive acoustics. Laura's favorite hobby in the field is photography of marine life , images from her collection will be presented here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What's the Story in Tobermory?*

The story is that the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT) on the Isle of Mull in Scotland is currently looking for volunteers to help with the preparation of a harbor porpoise skeleton to be used for school visits. If you have ever wanted to spend three weeks in Scotland and learn about cetacean anatomy, this is a great opportunity.

According to the HWDT site, this project would involve:
-Handling bones
-Removing dead tissue
-Soaking bones in liquid and household chemicals (such as laundry powder)
-Drying out the bones
-Numbering, cataloguing and assembling the skeleton

The Isle of Mull is one of the western islands of Scotland, and is the second largest in the Inner Hebrides. I spent a snowy two days on Mull two years ago while on an internship in Edinburgh. Tobermory, on the Isle of Mull, is home to about 700 people, a whisky distillery, and a very colorful waterfront (see above). Oh, and there's some great cheese coming out of Mull as well, which you may be able to find at your local supermarket. (For example, New Seasons on NE 33rd Street in Portland, Oregon carries it from time to time.)

If this sounds like your cup of tea -- and Scotland has some great tea -- you should think about applying. Actually, the more I think about it, the more I want to skip on over to Scotland for a bit. I'll bet they're looking for someone sooner than I could be available though, so I'm putting it out there for you. What are you waiting for?!

*The title of this post comes from a children's show called Balamory, in which children sing, "What's the story in Balamory? Wouldn't you like to know!" Balamory is based on the burgh of Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, which is apparent from the beginning of the show.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Whale Galaxy

As a self-proclaimed geek, I subscribe to a variety of blogs and websites. I'm not just into whales; I also geek out over knitting, psychology, webcomics, and NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD).

Today's featured picture is of the Whale Galaxy, also known as the Herring Galaxy or NGC 4631. (NGC stands for New General Catalogue, which is a catalogue of deep space objects.) The Whale Galaxy, which is a mere 25 million light-years from Earth, has been featured a couple of times on APOD, and each image is fascinatingly beautiful.

Most whales are quite large. This whale is as large as the Milky Way. Take that, Big Blue!