Current Cascadia Projects

Washington State

Cascadia Research has been conducting research on the gray whales that feed each spring in the waters around Whidbey and Camano Islands since 1990 but has recently expanded this work to examine details of their feeding in this region. This study has included deployments of suction cup attached video tags on gray whales in both 2015 and 2016. See Cascadia’s Youtube Channel for clips from deployments and from the tags.

Long-term monitoring of the incidence of strandings of cetaceans and pinnipeds with an emphasis on large whales in Washington State. Includes active responses and examination of stranded animals and associated data on causes of death, contaminants, pathology, and life history. Funded by NOAA’s Prescott Marine Mammal Stranding Grants Program.

Click here for a publication on pinniped strandings and human interaction cases in the Pacific Northwest from 1991-2016

Cascadia started a committee to look at increasing the diversity of our organization and therefor the community of marine mammal researchers through a variety of paths. Click here to learn more about this.

US West Coast

Cascadia conduct surveys and collaborate with other researchers to track the movements and abundance of gray whales using photographic-identification off northern California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. Funded by National Marine Mammal Laboratory, NOAA. See a 2019 updated analysis of abundance and population structure of seasonal gray whales in the PNW (1996-2017).

Humpback and blue whale photo-ID

Cascadia Research conducts long-term research on humpback and blue whales both along the West Coast of the United States as well as off Central America. We began this photo-identification research in 1986 and have continued annual surveys each year since. Cascadia also relies on contributions from a number of opportunistic sources (including citizen science) as well as collaborators to provide sighting information and photo-IDs. Cascadia was also the principal organization conducting and coordinating the SPLASH humpback whale research effort from 2004-2006. Cascadia conducting the matching but also coordinated all efforts for US West Coast and Central America.

Large whale surveys off Washington and Oregon

This three-year study began in late 2010 and is being conducted in collaboration with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) and is supported by a NOAA program to allow states to gather information on threatened and endangered species. The research will include line-transect surveys three times a year, photographic identification, and satellite tagging of different listed large whales including humpback, blue, fin, and sperm whales off Washington and Oregon. It will also examine human threats including ship strikes, entanglement, and other fishery interactions. See report on a recent sighting of a blue whale off the Washington coast.

Abundance and movements of humpback and blue whales off the U.S. West Coast

On-going long-term monitoring of humpback and blue whales using photographic identification of individual animals to track distribution, movements, abundance, trends, and vital parameters of humpback and blue whales off California, Oregon, and Washington. Primary support from Southwest Fisheries Science Center, NOAA and past support from the National Marine Sanctuary Program as well as private donors. See PDF of publication on humpback and blue whale abundance. New publication on blue whale distribution and movements, April 2009

Research on blue whales near shipping lanes off southern California

At least five blue whales were killed in fall 2007 as an apparent result of ship strikes in the southern California area. Three of these animals were discovered in the vicinity of the Santa Barbara Channel. This level of mortality was far higher than had been seen in any previous year and if there were additional deaths of animals that did not wash up, could be significant to this endangered species. Cascadia Research in collaboration with Scripps Institution of Oceanography and with the support of the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and National Marine Fisheries Service initiated research in 2008 on some of the factors possibly responsible for this mortality. Also see publication on ship strike mortality of whales in the Pacific Northwest.

Delphinid-Behavioral Response Study

A collaborative project, started in June 2017, examining the potential behavioral responses of free-ranging oceanic dolphins using controlled exposure experiments (CEEs).

SOCAL Behavioral Response Study

Cascadia Research is a leading participant in this collaborative study to examine the behavioral response of cetaceans to Navy mid-frequency sonar from 2010-2015 off southern California. Other principal participants include Southall Environmental Associates, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Duke University, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Naval Undersea Warfare Center. The project is funded by the US Navy. Cascadia is serving as the prime contractor for the study including providing the observers, vessel charters, and small boat operations and tag deployments for the project as well as participating in the analysis and write up of results. See a report on Behavioral Responses of whales to playback of sonar sounds from March 2011. Also see Ocean Mysteries TV show features Cascadia project on Navy sonar and ship strikes, see trailer (first aired 15 Feb 2014).

Hawaiian odontocete stock structure

Collection of identification photographs of false killer whales, bottlenose dolphins, rough-toothed dolphins, melon-headed whales, pygmy killer whales, short-finned pilot whales, dwarf sperm whales, Cuvier’s beaked whales and Blainville’s beaked whales to examine residency and inter-island movements within the main Hawaiian Islands, collection of skin samples from these species and others to examine genetic structure of the populations, and satellite-tagging of several species, to examine movements, in collaboration with the Southwest Fisheries Science Center, Wild Whale Research Foundation and Northwest Fisheries Science Center. Supported by the Southwest Fisheries Science Center, Naval Postgraduate School (N45), and Wild Whale Research Foundation.

Estimating population size, examination of movements, habitat use and behavior of Hawaiian false killer whales

This study involves collection and analyses of photo-identification data to estimate population size and examine social structure, satellite tagging to examine spatial use and movements, and studies of diving behavior and foraging ecology of false killer whales in the main Hawaiian Islands. Funded by the Pacific Islands Fisheries Center, National Marine Fisheries Service.

Atlantic Odontocete Movements

Movements and habitat use of odontocetes off the mid-Atlantic states.

Studying the diving behavior of beaked whales and other Hawaiian odontocetes

Originally this work was using time-depth recorders to examine the diving behavior; in recent years we have started using longer-term satellite/dive tags to examine diving behavior of Cuvier’s beaked whales, false killer whales, and other species in Hawaiian waters. Supported by the Southwest Fisheries Science Center, the Naval Postgraduate School (N45), and the Wild Whale Research Foundation.

Underwater behavior of whales with suction-cup attached tags

Deploy several types of suction-cup attached acoustic tags to monitor the dive and vocal behavior of blue and humpback whales. Supported by National Geographic, Office of Naval Research, N45 and Scripps Institution of Oceanography. See PDF of recent article on Crittercam deployments.