Thursday, November 5th
11:00 – 11:15am
Lisa Busch, SSSC Executive Director
Chuck Miller (Daanaxh.ils’eikh) – Tlingit Welcome
Michael Castellini, SWF Science Symposium Co-Director
11:15 – 11:55am
Title: Cultural Lives of Sperm WhalesRead More
The sperm whale is a highly social animal. Their culture is a vital part of their lives, ecology and nature. The basis of sperm whale society is the social unit consisting of about ten females and their offspring, usually kin. The females in social units travel together over thousands of km, babysit, suckle each others’ young, and defend themselves communally against predators.
Young sperm whales learn behaviour from their mothers and other members of their social unit, creating distinctive cultures among these social units. However, social units group together into larger cultural clans that have similar vocal repertoires and other behaviour. Social units only group with members of their own clan, even though clans overlap in space. Over the past 20 years we have seen cultural turnover in the clans using the waters off of the Galapagos Islands. We have also seen sperm whale cultures evolve. A particularly dramatic case of rapid and widespread cultural evolution, occurred in the 1820’s. Sperm whale social units across the North Pacific learned effective defensive measures from each other within five years of their first experience of whalers. Culture is a vital part of the lives, the ecology and the nature of sperm whales.
11:55 – 12:05am
12:05 – 12:45am
Dr. Heidi Harley
Title: Dolphins Stay in Touch: Whistles, Clicks, and BlatsRead More
From the surface, sometimes the ocean can look like a quiet, calm space. In fact, it’s full of noise! Sound travels more than four times faster in water than in air, and the animals that live in the ocean take advantage of that speed. Bottlenose dolphins (think Flipper) live in societies that come together and break apart, so they need ways to find each other. How? One method is through their signature whistles — a whistle that each dolphin makes that’s unique to that dolphin. Each dolphin identifies itself to others with that “name”, a whistle they develop the first year of their lives. They also imitate each others’ whistles, and the whistles of dolphins that spend a lot of time together are influenced by their comrade’s whistles. Come find out how we know what we know about dolphin whistles and do a “dolphin” task to see if you can do what dolphins do!
12:45 – 1:00pm
Lauren Wild, SWF Science Symposium Committee Member
Saturday, November 7th
11:00 – 11:15am
Casey Clark, Science Symposium Committee Member
11:15 – 11:55am
Title: Leatherback Turtles: Ancient Mariners of the PacificRead More
Leatherback turtles are great ocean voyagers. Their annual migration is one of the longest of any animal. After laying eggs at the Bird’s Head peninsula of West Papua, leatherbacks migrate thousands of miles across the Pacific to feed. They are regular visitors to the U.S. West Coast, where they take advantage of abundant jellies between July and October. One of the last strongholds for Pacific leatherbacks is the northwest coast of the Bird’s Head peninsula, West Papua, Indonesia, specifically at Jamursba Medi and Wermon beaches. Each year, these two beaches are the site of approximately 75% of nesting activity in the western Pacific. To protect these critical nesting habitats, the Tambrauw regency government established the Jeen Womom Coastal Park in 2015. Although considered the Pacific’s healthiest population, the Bird’s Head leatherbacks have declined by approximately 78% due to large-scale egg harvesting between 1970s and 1990s by indigenous communities living near the nesting beaches. Although illegal egg harvesting has now ceased, low hatching success has slowed population recovery. Deasy leads the nesting beach program for the State University of Papua (UNIPA), which has been spearheading research and conservation in the Coastal Park since 2005. With the help of local community members, her team has been working to increase hatching success by protecting turtle nests. In addition to their work on the nesting beaches, the UNIPA team engages in a community empowerment program. This program has successfully increased community buy-in for leatherback conservation, raising awareness of the importance of protecting marine turtles, and bringing more support to the nesting beach program. Deasy will share some of the lessons learned in promoting lasting and comprehensive marine turtle conservation in the region.
Pakiding F, Zohar K, Allo AYT, Keroman S, Lontoh D, Dutton PH, and Tiwari M (2020) Community Engagement: An Integral Component of a Multifaceted Conservation Approach for the Transboundary Western Pacific Leatherback. Front. Mar. Sci. 7:549570.