Whale & Seabird News - Summer 2008
(previous newsletters: 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 )
 27 years and counting.
Our annual newsletter describes our activities in the previous year and outlines plans for the current year.

Table of Contents:


Lipids (Fats) in Right Whale Faecal Material
  Zach Swaim, a Masters student of Dr. Heather Koopman at the University of North Carolina Wilmington has been studying the fat or lipid content in right whale faeces since 2005.  Zach successfully defended his Masters Thesis on this topic at the U. North Carolina, Wilmington, in April 2008. 

  In the Bay of Fundy the diet of right whales is dominated by the zooplankton Calanus copepods.  Copepods contain two types of lipids, triacylglycerols (oils) and wax esters.  Most mammals are incapable of breaking down wax esters, however, existing right whale energetics models rely on the assumption that all lipids (even the wax esters) are used. This is the first study to consider the possibility that all of the potential lipid energy present in copepods  might not be metabolically available to right whales.  This would have profound implications for assumptions about their foraging requirements and metabolism.

  Faecal samples were collected opportunistically between August and September by the New England Aquarium (NEAq) field crew and the GMWSRS using a fine mesh dipnet on a long pole.  Right whale faeces float at the surface for a short while and can be found by following the odour trails.  The NEAq team have used a dog trained to locate the faecal odour trail to increase their success of finding faeces.
right whale breaching
Copepods were collected during weekly plankton tows from the middle of July through the end of September in both years in the right whale conservation area, using bongo nets (named for their resemblance to bongo drums) towed vertically from the bottom to the surface.  As reported in a previous newsletter, the plankton hauler was purchased from funds provided by the Canadian Whale Institute. Samples were identified and counted throughout the summer and no less that 72% of the samples contained the target species of copepods, representing a mean copepod density of 995 m3.

  Copepod and fecal samples were analyzed for lipid class content and composition in the fall of both years.  Copepod lipids were dominated by wax ester components with a mean proportion of 94%, showing little variation between sampling sites.  Faecal lipids on average consisted of less than 17% wax esters, and interestingly, 29% triacylglycerols and 31% sterol esters.  

    Right whale faecal lipids were dominated by saturated fatty acids (approximately 75%) and interestingly, some the origin of these fatty acids is unclear, because we know they did not come from the right whale diet nor were they made by the whale.  These data suggest that some of the faecal fatty acids may have been produced from another source such as a symbiotic gut microorganism that is capable of producing these fatty acids.

   This study was also interested in determining the amount of lipid as well as the different types of lipids right whales metabolize on a daily basis.  Using right whale ingestion and defecation models, we estimated that a right whale ingests over 62 kilograms of lipid in one day and eliminates less than 2 kilograms of lipid.  This means right whales are metabolizing approximately 60 kilograms of lipid per day.  Of these lipids, wax esters are metabolized at an efficiency of over 99%, indicating that right whales are taking advantage of the primary lipid energy component (i.e. wax esters) in their diet.

   If right whale metabolic capabilities are similar to traditional mammals, then we should expect higher proportions of wax esters and less, if any, triaclyglycerols in their fecal material.  However, if we accept that right whales are utilizing wax esters then we can assume that right whales may have evolved a unique metabolic mechanism, such as specialized enzymatic machinery or a symbiotic bacterial relationship, to utilize some or all of their wax-ester rich diet.  Triaclyglycerols, on the other hand, are the primary storage lipid of most mammals and thus it seems wasteful to expel them from the body.  It is unclear where the triaclyglycerols in the feces are coming from, although their presence may reflect differential metabolism of triaclyglycerols and wax esters thereby changing the relative proportions we see in the fecal material.  This may indicate that right whales are so specialized at metabolizing wax esters, that triaclyglycerols are essentially ignored, or may be endogenous or by-product of bacterial breakdown that is expelled from the body.

    During the summer Zach made an evening presentation to the local community at the Grand Manan Museum.  We are always honoured to be involved in these evening presentations.  Funding in 2007 was from the Fairmont Algonquin Hotel and private donations. Zach’s travel during this project was also supported by UNCW Graduate School, Graduate School Assoc., Biology and Marine Biology Grad Student Assoc., Center for Marine Science Summer Research Stipend, SigmaXi.  Dr. Koopman also received funding for this project from UNCW Cahill grant.

In 2007 the GMWSRS completed the 17th year of the Harbour Porpoise Release Program.  Harbour porpoise entrapment rates were similar to what we witnessed in both 2005 and 2006, despite the fact that herring catches were up.  Typically porpoise and herring catch rates are closely related and it is presently unclear why we saw so few porpoises.  There is some evidence from the fishing industry that the youngest age classes of herring were extremely strong this year, suggesting that we might see an increase in herring landings and a corresponding increase in porpoise entrapments, in the near future. 

The 2007 Harbour Porpoise Release Program began in the first week of July with the arrival of the release team at the field station on Grand Manan.  Formal weir checks began on July 10th and were carried out until September 6th.  This year the Release Program recorded a total of 21 porpoises in weirs up slightly from the 16 recorded in 2006.  Usually entrapments peak in August and this trend was seen in 2007.  Of these 21 entrapped porpoises, two swam out unassisted, nine were released, three died while we were attempting to release them and the fate of one was undocumented.  Two of the lost porpoises were from a weir which was newly built this year and which we had no experience seining.  Once we learned how the net behaved as it was set (each weir is different) our success rate in this new weir improved.  Fishermen released an additional six porpoises without our assistance, including one from the Intruder weir on April 11th!

A large portion of our success is due to the frequent use of our mammal seines.  These nets are used to release porpoises and whales while leaving herring inside the weir.  We helped develop the first mammal seine in 1991 and also helped in obtaining the second larger net in 2002.  Our data show that porpoise mortality rates are far less when fishermen use the mammal seine (2%) vs. a herring seine (11%) so we strongly encourage its use.  We have discovered that individual seines are better suited for use in specific weirs and as such guide the fishermen on which seine to use. 

A rebound in herring landings occurred in 2007 compared to the two previous years, however few porpoise entrapments were recorded.  This trend bodes well for the weir fishery as a whole and is beneficial to the conservation of porpoises. The stochastic nature of porpoise entrapment rates weirs makes it difficult to predict what will happen in 2008 (see figure above). 
In addition to the 21 porpoises, four minke whales were documented in Grand Manan weirs.  Three of these animals were successfully swept out by weir fishermen and the fourth went out through the twine on its own!  There was also a single humpback whale reported in a weir near the Wolves just north of Grand Manan.  Personnel from the Research Station responded but luckily the animal found its own way out sometime during the night.

  porpoise releases until 2007

Together with the help of Grand Manan weir fishermen we successfully released nine porpoises during the 2007 field season.  We were able to obtain some measure of information from eight of these individuals.  The smallest and largest porpoise this year were from the same weir but on different dates: GM0713 (105 cm male) and GM0706 (150 cm female).

We clipped small, uniquely numbered plastic roto-tags on the dorsal fins of five porpoises (white for females and blue for males—we change colours every year); these tags allow us to identify individuals if they are later re-sighted.  Several of the porpoises we roto-tagged in previous years were sighted around Grand Manan over the course of the summer.

 We also monitor the health of a wild harbour porpoises and did obtain blood samples from two individuals.  Results of these analyses will go into our data base and will provide a snapshot, albeit small, of the health status of the population in 2007.  Samples from previous years allowed us to publish a scientific paper on the presence of the disease, Brucellosis, in harbour porpoises.  Two of 170 (1.2%) animals had detectable antibodies against Brucella, but no organisms were isolated from genital swabs or tissues from 22 and 8 porpoises, respectively, or Brucella DNA detected in inflamed testes of 20 animals. This is the first evidence of exposure to Brucella in porpoises from the western North Atlantic, and the prevalence is much lower than documented for conspecifics from the eastern North Atlantic.

THANK YOU to our funding partners (Whale & Dolphin Conservation Society, International Fund for Animal Welfare,Down to Earth Conservation and Education, Huntsman Marine Science Centre, Connors Brothers), private donations, and the weir operators for their continued support


     Masters student of Dr. Heather Koopman at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW), Hillary Lane has been collecting and analyzing herring for lipid or fat content from around the Bay of Fundy since 2005 when she was a GMWSRS research assistant.

    The summer of 2007 was very productive for the herring lipid project.  The purpose of this project is to identify seasonal, spatial, and ontogenetic variation in the fat content and composition of Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) from around the Bay of Fundy.  The main task during the summer was to collect and initially process herring caught in weirs and purse seine nets around Grand Manan Island.  Over 1700 fish samples were collected in 2007.  Five local fishermen consistently donated samples, but samples were collected periodically from five other weirs around the island.  Samples were also provided by the two offshore purse seiners that operate from Grand Manan, FV “Fundy Mistress” and FV “Polly B”.  Initial processing involved measuring the fork length (distance from the tip of the snout to the centre of the fork in the tail) and mass of each fish, then homogenizing in a blender for more compact storage. 

    A new component of the project was the addition of samples from the winter months.  These samples were collected by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and stored in St. Andrews until they were brought to the Research Station in July.  This sampling effort involved over 10 carriers from locations all around the Bay.  Winter samples were also collected directly from a few herring weirs on the northern end of Grand Manan that were active during the winter. These samples were brought in to the Research Station and frozen until processed in the summer.  The winter samples added a new and important aspect to the project, allowing seasonal comparison of lipid content and composition.

    The success of this project depends on the involvement of the local fishermen.  Not only do they provide the samples for the project, but they provide a unique insight that most academics cannot.  Therefore, it is very important that the local community remains informed about the progress and success of the project.  The study was presented to the Grand Manan community in two ways.  First, a seminar was given at the local museum.  An overview of the project, brief methodology, and preliminary results were presented. Second, a pamphlet outlining similar information that was in the presentation was distributed to all participating fishermen.

    We wish to thank everyone who contributed herring including the weir fishermen, Connors Bros. and the St. Andrews Biological Station. In 2008 we have received funding for this project from the Herring Science Council.


Rob Ronconi, a Research Biologist at the GMWSRS, successfully defended his PhD at the University of Victoria in April 2008 and has started a post-doctoral fellowship at Dalhousie University in Halifax.

Funding in 2007 for this ongoing shearwater project (see our last newsletter) was less than expected but we were able to achieve a number of successes including the first ever satellite tagging of sooty shearwaters in the Atlantic.

Field research started in July and ended in early September with 54 Greater and seven Sooty Shearwaters captured.  Blood and feather samples for dietary analysis were collected from these birds.  These were analyzed at UNCW and the University of Waterloo.  Legs bands were also placed on these birds and amazingly, given the number of shearwaters that visit the Bay of Fundy each year, one Greater Shearwater banded in 2006 was recaptured in 2007.  Birds were generally lighter in 2007 and 2006 than in 2005.  Both Sooty and Greater Shearwaters appear to have a similar diet when in the Bay of Fundy and spend the summer gaining weight, peaking at the end of August just prior to migration.  Stable isotope analysis of feather samples indicates that their diet in the Bay of Fundy differs from where they moult their feathers and as the feathers grow there is a seasonal increase in the proportion of fish in their diet.  Analysis of blood plasma at the time of capture, however, suggested a diet of krill.  Detailed analysis will need to be conducted to examine these contradictory results.

Two Sooty Shearwaters were tracked by satellite for 38 and 48 days (considerably shorter than the greater shearwater tags in 2006), while they fed in the Bay of Fundy and during the beginning of their migration to their southern nesting area.  Analysis of satellite telemetry locations showed a few “hotspots” for sooty shearwaters: 1.) southeast of Grand Manan Island between Clark’s Ground and Old Proprietor Shoal, and 2.) along the Nova Scotia coastline of the Bay of Fundy.  satellite track of 2 sooty shearwaters

We were able to compare the movements of the Sooty Shearwaters with the Greater Shearwater movements from 2006. In both years and species, hotspots showed considerable overlap in areas southeast of Grand Manan (Clark’s Ground, Old Proprietor Shoal). Away from this primary hotspot, the two species showed different patterns.  Greater Shearwaters took several foraging trips south of Grand Manan into the Gulf of Maine.  Sooty shearwaters took several foraging trips to the upper Bay of Fundy and along the Nova Scotia coast, including areas around Brier Island.

The most surprising and unexpected results of the study in 2007 were: 1). Sooty Shearwaters departed the Bay of Fundy about three weeks later than Greater Shearwaters the year before, and 2.) Sooty Shearwater migration was different.  Their route was northeast across the Atlantic towards the UK with one bird entering the North Sea before the tags failed.

With limited funds and too few satellite tagged birds for analysis, we deployed eight VHF tags on Greater Shearwaters to test the feasibility of recapturing birds that had already been tagged.  This proved to be difficult and we recaptured only one out of eight birds before the tags fell off the birds.  The radio tags also allowed us to track these birds daily by land and boat, identifying hotspots of activity southeast of Grand Manan.  Instead of assessing satellite tag effects, we submitted 18 blood samples (2 Sooty and 16 Greater Shearwaters) to the Atlantic Veterinary College to obtain baseline blood levels for both species.  Preliminary results suggested that the Sooty Shearwaters may have been dehydrated and fighting infections or parasites.

We investigated potential sources for application of our data to conservation planning.  Contacts were made with Environment Canada (Andre Laflamme, Dartmouth office) to contribute data to the Environmental Emergencies Mapping Program (EEMP). EEMP stores data which are used for i) environmental risk assessment, ii) oil spill preparedness and training exercises, and iii) real-time response to oil spill emergencies.  All of our data will be compiled and submitted to EEMP from 2006-2007 and in future years of the study.

A public presentation of our research was made at the natural history night at the Grand Manan museum.  The two Sooty Shearwater travels were available on the website that updated tracks of satellite tagged animals daily.  They are now in that websites archives, along with the Greater Shearwater tracks from 2006.

 The shearwater project in 2007 was funded through the New Brunswick Wildlife Trust Fund, and Bird Studies Canada’s James L. Baillie Memorial Fund. The research station also relies on the generous donations of many individuals for this project. Funding for the 2008 season is looking promising including grants from the Environmental Damages Fund, the New Brunswick Wildlife Trust Fund and the National Geographic Society.


In 2007, working with Robin Hunnewell from the Manomet Center in the U.S. and Edward Rayner, we provided our vessel Phocoena and crew for surveys of migrating red-necked phalaropes, a small seabird that can occur in large numbers in the Bay during their migration.  For the first time ever at sea, our team successfully caught, attached tiny radio transmitters and released two red-necked phalaropes. 


   On 18 December 2007, the GMWSRS received a call from the Grand Manan Fishermen’s Association.  A fishermen wanted advice on what to do with a humpback whale that was tangled in his lobster gear.  The Campobello Whale Rescue Team, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), and the Center for Coastal Studies were notified and a release attempt was planned for the next day.  Given the time of year it was miraculous that the weather cooperated long enough for the Grand Manan DFO officers to pick up the Campobello team by boat, including a member who had travelled from Provincetown, MA, transport them to the entanglement site south of Grand Manan, assist with the efforts and then get the team back to Campobello.  The humpback now tangled in three lobster trawls (a number of traps attached together in a long line) was successfully disentangled and swam off.  Although fishermen are often reluctant to become involved, the courage of this fisherman to seek assistance helped save this whale who was badly tangled, loosely anchored and at risk of dying.

   The fisherman, Ritchie Wilson, was immediately given a certificate by the GMWSRS to recognize his efforts.  At the Grand Manan Fishermen’s Association Annual Meeting in March 2008, he was presented with an award from the Canadian Whale Institute, also recognizing his efforts.

   The release of this humpback was certainly a testament to success of the Bay of Fundy Disentanglement Network and the importance of building a cooperative atmosphere between disentanglers, fishermen and fishery officers. 


Right Whale Stewardship

    In 2007, we continued the data collection project for its fourth year with whale watch vessels in the Bay of Fundy collecting sighting information of whales.  Sea Watch Tours, Quoddy Link Tours and Whale-n-Sails Adventures collected sighting data.  Tracklines and photos were also taken by Laurie on the latter whale watch. Data was collected from late May until the middle of October and will be contributed to both the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium data base and the Atlantic Canada data base maintained at the St. Andrews Biological Station. We continued to distribute the brochures and information packets for fishermen into 2007 and will continue to do so until we need to reorder. 

Our RIGHT WHALE AODPTION PROGRAM— is continuing to grow.  We have four individuals, three mothers and their calves, and three families who can be adopted and are thinking of expanding this.

Right Whale Notes

Right whale dive sequence
In 2007, 22 calves were born with the latest occurring at the end of May off Cape Cod, an abnormally late birth and unusual area.  Most right whale calves are born in waters from North Carolina south to Florida between December and early March.  This mother then took her calf to Florida in July and then into the Bay of Fundy by the end of August.  In 2008, 19 calves have been born which brings the total since 2001 to 176 calves compared with 101 in the previous period between 1991 and 2000.  Not all of these calves survive but the recent good calving years has resulted in a growing population, estimated to be just under 400 whales.  Two newborns washed ashore this winter, their mothers are not known but may be determined from genetic analysis.  Two mothers lost calves this winter but they may not be the mothers of the two dead newborns which means there may have been up to four dead calves and possibly 21 calves.   The youngest mother was six years of age and the oldest 26, although seven mothers are of unknown age and could be much older.  There were six first time mothers.  Three mothers had just a two year calving interval.  This occurs only when a mother looses a very young calf, otherwise, there is a minimum of three years between calves, giving the mother at least one year to rest and regain blubber lost during nursing.  A recent peculiar occurrence in the calving area is the large numbers of juvenile right whales returning, greatly increasing the number of right whales seen each day during the aerial surveys.  This is most likely a result of continued above average numbers of calves being born since 2001 and their returning to the calving areas for the first couple of years.

Right whales continue to be entangled, some for many years.  Unfortunately it is not always easy to respond to these whales due to distance from shore, complications of the entanglement and the unwillingness of right whales to be assisted.  Each entanglement is different but usually involves the mouth, flippers and tail to some degree.  In early 2007 one male right whale that had  been entangled for several years (#1424) was found dead in the Gulf of Maine and despite heroic attempts to track the carcass by satellite telemetry, the carcass was not immediately recovered.  The well decomposed carcass eventually washed ashore on Cape Cod.  In 2008 there have been five new entanglements to various degrees and a couple of the right whales shed the entangling line.  Kingfisher (#3346) remains entangled, now over 4 years, with loops of rope still remaining on his right flipper.  Flipper wraps can be dangerous for young, growing animals since the rope can cut into the growing flipper, but hopefully this not the case with Kingfisher.  Presently, his condition appears to be normal.

Reduced funding to the New England Aquarium from federal U.S. sources almost meant no Bay of Fundy field season for them in 2007, however, through the efforts of several individuals and commitment of funds from both private and non-profit sources, the research team was able to continue their work in the Bay of Fundy which they have undertaken since 1980.  A digital camera was permanently loaned to Laurie from the New England Aquarium so she would be able to collect photographs of right whales including the all important photographs of young calves.  By the time the calves come to the Bay of Fundy with their mothers, the callosities on their heads are fully formed and once photographed they can then be followed for the rest of their lives since these patterns remain the same, although the head does grow larger.

The New England Aquarium is making a concerted effort in the next few years to provide names for all of the catalogued whales and may rename a few to insure that the names are both useful and tasteful.  Currently only 152 out of 519 have been assigned a name.  They will be posted to the right whale online catalogue which is a great resource to keep track of individual right whales (

Catspaw (#1632) and her male calf, Resolution (#3532), became a news item in 2008 after a scientific paper was published in Aquatic Mammals described his birth (Observation of a Right Whale (Eubalaena glacialis) Birth in the Coastal Waters of the Southeast United States).  Monica Zani, Jessica Taylor and Scott Kraus wrote in the abstract: “….On 1 January 2005, during the New England Aquarium research team's standard aerial survey, a single right whale was observed at the surface 17 nmi east of the northern tip of Talbot Island, Florida. While circling over the whale to obtain photographs for individual identification, observers noticed a red coloration visible in the water around the whale that looked like blood. The water around the whale's belly, side, and flukes was clearly red, but the color was dispersing quickly due to the thrashing behavior of the whale. After 3 min and 37 s of observation, a calf appeared to the side of the adult. The calf had no visible cyamid coverage on the head, body, or flukes. The flukes appeared to be slightly limp and curled under at both tips. The mother lifted the calf to the surface on her back. As the mother rose to the surface, the calf was draped limply over her body. The calf rolled off the mother's back into the water and began to swim next to the mother….. ” 


In 2007 from June through the first part of October, visitor numbers increased (6070) over 2006 but still remain well below the ten year average (8374).  Our sales per person in the gift shop, dropped from the high of 2006 but above all other years which makes it possible to pay some salaries and maintain the facility without looking for outside assistance, even with the declining number of visitors.   We have also had excellent staff Robin Cormier (partially funded by a grant from Human Resources Canada) and Brenda Bass, plus our volunteer Ken Ingersoll filling in when Laurie was busy with other duties.  We have received donations of items for sale from some of our “Friends” including jewellery, matted photographs, calendars and whale guides.

On 9 May 2007 we received a report of a stranded porpoise which turned out to be a 14’ female pilot whale.  The local fish plant, M.G. Fisheries, kindly donated a boom truck and freezer space to hold the carcass until we did a necropsy in August to determine cause of death and collect any other information.  Dr. Pierre-Yves Daoust, Dr. Maria Forzan & Scarlett Magda from the Vet. College at UPEI travelled to Grand Manan to participate in the necropsy, along with our staff including Dr. Aleksija Neimanis.  There was no apparent cause of death and the animal was other wise healthy.  We suspect the animal became confused near Grand Manan and stranded.  The skeleton spent the winter in the whale bone compound on Grand Manan but will be transferred into a cage and placed in the ocean for cleaning.  It will be rearticulated in the coming years and along with the skeleton of a pilot whale calf that stranded in 2003 will be put on display in the museum .


Dr. Heather Koopman, Univ. of North Carolina, Wilmington (UNCW)
Dr. Andrew Westgate, UNCW
Dr. Aleksija Neimanis, Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre
Laurie Murison, GMWSRS
Rob Ronconi, University of Victoria
Sarah Wong, Dalhousie University

Research Assistants
Ken Ingersoll, Grand Manan
Margaret Leighton, Mount Allison Univ.
Jesse Kelly, Dalhousie University
Caitlin McKinstry, UNCW
Graduate Student
Hillary Lane, UNCW
Zach Swaim, UNCW

Visiting Scientists
Robin Hunnewell, Manomet Bird Observatory
Edward J. Rayner
Dr. Pierre-Yves Daoust, Dr. Maria Forzan & Scarlett Magda, UPEI, Atlantic Vet. College
Stacey DeRuiter, WHOI
Amy Peterson, John Hopkins Univ.
Zoey Zahorodny & Chris Duggan

Museum & Gift Shop Students
Robin Cormier
Brenda Bass

Family and Friends
John, Ieva, Aelita Neimanis
Scott Sherin
Nicole Maddox
Sharon & Barbara Kelly
Mara & Gerry Lane
Melissa & Zach Lygizos

Sarah McDonald
Weir operators
Canines: Skye, Arran, Fennec & Taj

If you wish to continue or are not already a Friend please fill in the form. If you know someone who would like to be added to our list, please pass this information along. 

Mary Lou Campbell, Grand Manan NB
(our founding donor)

Ms Susan's Class, Nutley, NJ
Wed. 1:30PM tutorial group, Halifax, NS
Nature Nuts Environmental Club, J.M. Denys Pulic School, Milton, ON
MG Fisheries, Grand Manan, NB
Sandra Acebo, Chico, CA
Barbara Alpert, New York, NY
Trisha Appleby, Grand Bay-Westfield, NB
Dianne Austin Rice, Dol-d'Ormeaux, QC
Charlotte Bacon, Simsbury, CT
David Barbara, Rahway, NJ
Mark Bell, Toronto, ON
Pattie Bender, Waterloo, ON
Anja Borck, Beaconsfield, QC
Shannon Brewer, St. Andrews, NB
Bob & Sandy Brown, New London, NH
Laura Buckley, Grand Manan, NB
Malcolm Bullock, Dol-d’Ormeaux, QC
Michael Campbell, East Gore, NS
Ann Campbell, Williamston, MI
Carol Carter, Arnprior, ON
Ann Chudleigh, Chelsea QC
Paul & Stacey Clarke, Point-Claire, QC
Dave Connolly, Waterford, ON
Robin Cormier, Moncton, NB
Raymond Cousins, Aurora ON
Marie Crawford, Etobicoke ON
Joan Creager, State College, PA
James Cruikshank, Needham MA
Anne Innis Dagg, Waterloo ON
Brenda Dale, Sherwood Park AB
Terry Davidson, Grand Manan NB
Keith & Jennifer Davis, Nepean ON
Tracey Dean, Chamcook, NB
Hank Deichmann, Summerville, NB
Karen Doak, Memramcook, NB
Ernest Donaldson, Belwood ON
Sheila Duignan, Berkeley, CA
Judith Dunstan, Quispamsis, NB
Cathy Edkins, Niagara Falls, ON
Monica Elrod, San Diego, CA
Neil Emmott, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Kathy Feicht, Grand Bay-Westfield, NB
Fischhoff Family, Pittsburgh PA
James Gardiner, Scarborough, ON
Margaret Goodman, Seattle, WA
Michael & Myra Gordon, London, ON
Kara Grant, Fredericton, NB
Joan Green, Fredericton NB
Bill & Pam Gudgeon, Burlington ON
Matthew Aaron Hall, Vancouver BC
Sarah Haney, Bolton ON
Janice Harris, Florence, ON
Frances Hodge, Westmount QC
Judith Horner, Stratford, ON
Patricia Hornsby, Laredo, TX
Maureen Huber, Shanty Bay, ON
Linda Hutchings, Calgary AB
Doug Jackson, Fredericton NB
Anne Jeffrey, Columbus OH
David Johnson, Lebanon, NH
Paul Jones, Ottawa ON
Rose Jones, Kingston, ON
Rhonda Kantor, Ste-Agathe, QC
Sharon & Barbara Kelly, London ON
Andrea Kelter, New Glasgow, NS
Joanne Kenny, Niagara Falls, ON
Judith Khan, Brooklyn NY
Louisa Lamb, Rothesay, NB
Ann Lawley, Pipersville PA
Hayden & Marion Leaman, Fredericton NB
Carolyn Leavitt, St. Andrews, NB
Roger LeBlanc, Moncton NB
Andrea Lebowitz, North Vancouver BC
Anne Leslie, Fredericton, NB
Eleanor Linberg, Schenectady NY
John Littleford, Baton Rouge, LA
Sheila MacDonald, East Gore, NS
Elizabeth Malmberg, Fredericton, NB
Wine & Hugh Mansfield, Baie d'Urfe, QC
Gordon & Mrs. Maxfield, Holliston, ME
Susan McChesney, Phippsburg, ME
Carol McFadden, McGregor ON
Tricia McGraw, Fredericton, NB
Stephanie Meier, Greenfield, WI
Cathy Merriman, Halifax, NS
Mary Mersereau, North Lancaster, ON
Nancy Mersereau, Baie d'Urfe QC
William Mersereau, Montreal, QC
Kent Moore,Toronto, ON
Lynne Moore, Debut Global, Toronto, ON
Jeff Nason, Bangor, ME
Irene Neff, Waterloo, ON
Ieva Neimanis, Hamilton ON
Kristie Parrish, Mandeville, LA
Richard Peckham, Bedford NS
Loretta Penny, Mississauga ON
Stephen Pond, Fredericton, NB
Janet Purvis, London ON
Mary Reed, Albuquerque NM
Roland Riek, Zurich, Switzerland
Robert Righter, Denver CO
Joan Robinson, Almonte, ON
Khurshid Rogers, Woodland Park, CO
Bill & Sandy Rogers, Gaithersburg MD
Yolande Roy, Joliette, QC
Nigel Scott, Kingston, ON
Verola Sennhenn, Columbus,WI
Linda Anne Seville, Calgary, AB
Marcia Shultz, Saint Paul, MN
Jane & Andrew Smart, Toronto ON
Diane St-Amour, Fredericton, NB
Anthony Starratt, St. Andrews, NB
Marcia Stephen, Orillia ON
Janice Stratton, Durham, NC
Lloyd Strickland, Ottawa ON
Micky & Bobbie Swaim, Yadkinville NC
Daniel Taillon & Marie Cousineau, Saint-Lazare, QC
Jane Tarn, Fredericton NB
Robert & Kathleen Toppi, Leamington. ON
Michael Turner, Scarborough ON
Rohan van Twest, Guelph ON
Harry Walker, Miramichi NB
Joseph Wallace, Pleasantville, NY
Harriet Ward, Concord, NH
Eileen Warkala, Milford, NJ
Anne-Francoise Wauthy
Edith Weber, Wyevale ON
Betsy & Douglas Wenny, Wilmington, DE
Kathy Wheeler, Nepean ON
Brian Wiese, Shanty Bay ON
Allan Wilkins
John Williamson
Lesley Wilson
Sandy Wilson
Tim Winchester
Dennis Wood, Toronto ON
Ali Zaidi
Kathrine Zmurchyk
Rosemarie Zucker, Toronto ON

Ruth Marie Young
Joan Barberis


Summer Students

Human Resources Development Canada
Harbour Porpoise Release Program (HPRP) Support
International Fund for Animal Welfare
Whale & Dolphin ConservationSociety
Shearwater Research
New Brunswick Wildlife Trust Fund
Baillie Fund
National Geopgraphic Society (to Dr. Koopman, UNCW)
  • Allan McDonald Images
  • Atlantic Mariculture (WCF) 
  • Connors Brothers (HPRP)
  • Down to Earth Conservation & Education
  • Fairmont Algonquin Hotel (WCF)
  • Huntsman Marine Science Centre (HPRP)
  • Maine Coast Sea Vegetables (WCF)
  • M.G. Fisheries
  • Tall Ship Whale Adventures (WCF)
  • Whales-n-Sails Adventures (WCF)
  • Wyland Foundation (WCF)
HPRP = Harbour Porpoise Release Program
WCF = Whale Conservation Fund


We would like to thank everyone who has donated time and effort to our work and projects including the Weir Operators, whale watch companies (Whales-n-Sails Adventures, Quoddy Link Marine), Dr. Tony Diamond, Campobello Whale Rescue,
Marine Animal Rescue Society, Dr. Moira Brown, Grand Manan Fishermens Association, and especially Andrea Kelter.  For those who supplied herring for the lipid project: Jeff and Carter Foster, Matt Lambert, Blaine and Stacy Brown, Danny and Russell Ingalls, Earl Wayne Green and their crews, Connors Bros. and the St. Andrews Biological Station.

Congratulations to both Zach Swaim and Rob Ronconi for successfully defending their graduate degrees, a Masters and a PhD, respectively.

Dr. Aleksija Neimanis, who has been with the GMWSRS for many years and works as a  wildlife pathologist at the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre in Saskatoon, is starting a new job at the Pathology and Wildlife Disease Division of the National Veterinary Institute in Uppsala, Sweden.


Scientific Papers, Book Chapters:

  • Bellefleur, D., P. Lee and R.A. Ronconi. In press. The impact of recreational boat traffic on Marbled Murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus).  Journal of Environmental Management.
  • Haynes, T.B., Robert A Ronconi, and Alan E Burger. 2007. Habitat use and behavior of the pacific sand lance (Ammodytes hexapterus) in the shallow subtidal region of southwestern Vancouver Island.  Northwestern Naturalist 88(3): 155-16
  • Koopman, H.N. 2007. Phylogenetic, ecological, and ontogenetic factors influencing the biochemical structure of the blubber of odontocetes. Marine Biology 151:1, 277-291
  • Meagher, E.M. , W.A. McLellan, A.J. Westgate, R.S. Wells, J.E. Blum, D.A. Pabst. 2008. Seasonal patterns of heat loss in wild bottlenose dolphins ( Tursiops truncatus ). Journal of Comparative Physiology B: Biochemical, Systemic, and Environmental Physiology (2008) 178:529–543
  • Neimanis, A.S., H. N. Koopman, A. J. Westgate, K. Nielsen, and F. A. Leighton. 2008. Evidence of Exposure to Brucella sp. in Harbor Porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) from the Bay of Fundy, Canada  Journal of Wildlife Diseases, 44(2) pp. 480–485
  • Swaim, Z., H. Koopman, A. Westgate, R. Rolland, and S. Kraus. (in prep) Lipid metabolism by right whales: using fecal samples to assess assimilation of copepod triacylglycerols and wax esters
  • Westgate, A.J. 2007 Geographic variation in cranial morphology of short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) from the North Atlantic.  Journal of Mammalogy 88(3).
  • Westgate, A.J. and A.J. Read, 2007. Reproduction in short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) from the western North Atlantic. Marine Biology 150(5): 1011-1024
  • Westgate, A.J., W.A. McLellan, R.S. Wells, M.D. Scott, E.M. Meagher and D.A. Pabst. 2007. A new device to remotely measure heat flux and skin temperature from free-swimming dolphins. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 346(1-2): 45-59.
  • Wong, S.N.P. and P. Sicotte.  2007. Activity Budget and Ranging Patterns of Colobus vellerosus in Forest Fragments in Central Ghana.  Folia Primatologica. 78(4):245-254

Learned Societies Presentations

  • Koopman, Heather, Z.P. Zahorodny.  2007.  Can you hear me now?  Ontogenetic development of acoustic lipids in dolphins and porpoises.  17th Biennial conference Marine Mammal Science, Cape Town, South Africa, Nov. 29—Dec. 3, 2007.  Winner of Best Spoken Presentation.
  • Lane, Hillary. Ontogenetic, seasonal, and annual variation in lipid content and composition of Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) from the Bay of Fundy, Canada. American Fisheries Society Tidewater Chapter Meeting, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Glouchester Point, VA, March 6-8 2008.
  • Lane, Hillary. Temporal and ontogenetic variation in the nutritional value of Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus), an important prey species in the Bay of Fundy, Canada. Southeast and Mid-Atlantic Marine Mammal Symposium, Hollings Marine Laboratory, Charleston, SC, March 28-30, 2008. Awarded best talk by a master's student.
  • Swaim, Z., Koopman, H., Westgate, A., Rolland, R., and Kraus, S.  Waxing poetic: comparing the lipid content and composition of right whale fecal material to those of their copepod prey.  Southeast and Mid-Atlantic Marine Mammal Symposium, Duke University Marine Laboratory Beaufort, NC. March 2007. Awarded best talk by a master's student.
  • Swaim, Z., Westgate, A., Koopman, H., Rolland, R., and Kraus, S.  A wax ester digester?  Comparing the lipid content and composition of right whale fecal material to those of their copepod prey.  North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium Annual Meeting, New Bedford, MA. Nov. 7-8, 2007
  • Ronconi, R.  2008.  Patterns and processes of marine habitat selection: foraging ecology, competition and coexistence among coastal seabirds. PhD. Thesis, University of Victoria, British Columbia.
  • Swaim, Z. 2008. Lipid metabolism by right whales: Using fecal samples to assess assimilation of copepod triacylglycerols and was esters. Master’s Thesis. University of North Carolina, Wilmington.

  • Harbour Porpoise Release Program (HPRP Team).  Our team will arrive in July and respond to any entrapments.
  • Whale Watch Data Collection (Laurie Murison).  Locations, numbers, species identification and photo-identification data will again be collected on Whales-n-Sails whale watch trips.  
  • Nutritional Quality of Herring for Higher Predators (Heather Koopman & Hillary Lane). Herring from weirs and purse seiners will be collected during the summer and later analyzed in Dr. Koopman’s lab in North Carolina. Funding through the Herring Science Council.
  • Large Whale Disentanglement Network (GMWSRS).  We will be ready to respond to any entanglements during the summer.
  • Diet Analysis and Satellite Tracking of Shearwaters and Gulls (Rob Ronconi).  Shearwaters, and now gulls, will be caught at sea, banded, sampled, and a few satellite tracked.  Check for updates on the project.  Emphasis will be placed on defining essential feeding habitat. Funding from New Brunswick Wildlife Trust, Environmental Damage Fund and National Geographic Society.
  • Locating, Capturing and Radio Tagging Red-necked Phalaropes.  We will provide logistical support to Robin Hunnewell from Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences and a PhD. Candidate at Univ. of New Brunswick to capture red-necked phalaropes at sea
  • Tracking Basking Sharks—(Caitlin McKinstry & Andrew Westgate) a preliminary study will be undertaken to attach a satellite tracking tag to a basking shark.  Funding from PADI.

    Without the cooperation of all of our personnel, we would not be able to accomplish the work undertaken each summer.  It is not unusual for our researchers to release a porpoise in the morning, collect zooplankton samples in the afternoon and then prepare herring for analysis in the evening.  We are also grateful that most are able to volunteer their time and expertise to accomplish our research and conservation goals.  

Adopt Right Whales —  We happily enclose a copy of our new program designed to provide information to those interested in helping right whales and raise funds at the same time.  Donations can be made at three levels, individual whales ($40), mothers and calves ($75) and families ($100).  You will receive a certificate suitable for framing, information about right whales, and an update about your whale(s) travels. Funding for development of this program has been from private donations, the Fairmont Algonquin Hotel, and Royal Caribbean International.  Proceeds will help us continue our research and conservation work.
  • We appreciate your support and look forward to a continued friendship. Please fill out the donation form
    and help us continue our programs.

(previous newsletters: 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 )

Grand Manan Whale & Seabird Research Station Inc.
24 Route 776, Grand Manan, NB, Canada, E5G 1A1

© 2009 Grand Manan Whale & Seabird Research Station Inc.

This page maintained by revised June 25, 2009