March 24, 2021 — Lisa Hildebrand, “A Small Piece of a Large Puzzle: Investigating the fine scale foraging ecology of Pacific Coast Feeding group – gray whales.”
Gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) along the west coast of the United States follow a well-documented migration every year. They breed and nurse their calves in the lagoons of Baja, Mexico between September to January, before they head north to their feeding grounds in Alaska and the Arctic. Once there, whales spend the summer months feeding on zooplankton to regain crucial body mass that they have lost while on the breeding grounds. Towards the end of the summer, the population will start their migration back south, restarting the annual cycle. However, a small subset of this large population strays from the norm and does not continue all the way to Alaska. Instead, they make the waters off the coasts of northern California, Oregon, Washington and southern British Columbia their homes for the summer. Who are these individuals and why exactly do they do this? Come hear about the research that a team of Oregon State University researchers undertakes every year in Port Orford, OR to help answer some of these fundamental questions about gray whales.