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Undergraduate Research at UAS Whale Research Project

Holding whale models

Whale biologist Jim Darling from British Columbia, Canada visited Juneau in mid-September to help launch a new humpback whale research project with UAS biology students. Students will work with Dr. Darling and UAS Biology Faculty Beth Mathews to determine which whales spend time in Alaska and Hawaii. Students will compare photographs of the ventral surface of whales' flukes taken in Hawaii from 1977 to the present and compare those to photographs taken of whales in nearby waters. Dr. Darling is interested in the behavior of whales in their breeding (Hawaii) and feeding (Alaska) grounds.

The students took their first identifying trip on Sept. 17th and were joined by National Geographic photographer and whale researcher Flip Nicklin. The Gastineau Guiding tour boat departed Auke Bay at 10 am and the group spotted its first humpback minutes later while still in the Bay. The expedition took students to Point Retreat, across Lynn Canal, to St. James Bay. The trip was successful in identifying a non-cataloged humpback and its calf.