Current Projects

Southern California Behavioral Response Study

Foraging Ecology of Humpback Whales in Relation to Krill Catches

Foraging Behavior and Ecological Role of the Antarctic Minke Whale

Palmer Station Long Term Ecological Research Project

Measuring Heart Rate to Assess the Stress Response in Large Whales

Using Baleen to Study Historical Whale Populations

Baleen Whale Stress Levels Post COVID-19 Reductions in Ocean Noise & Marine Traffic

How much longer will Antarctic be a place of solace for whales?

May 15, 2023

Climate change is hitting the Antarctic Peninsula especially hard. It's one of the fastest warming regions of the planet. We're losing sea ice, which will most likely affect the availability of krill – whales' main food source down here. Commercial fisheries are quite literally taking food from the whales' mouths. What's going to happen?


Can Whales Save the Planet?

April 20, 2023

Our team has just finished an incredible field season in the Antarctic. We collected several hundred biopsies of whale tissue, paired many of these with measurable images of body condition using drones, placed tags on several animals, and conducted exposure experiments for a new study on the impacts of tourism on whale behavior. A film team from NowThis Earth joined one of our teams on an Intrepid Travel ship to tell our story.


Using AI to Listen to Whales

November 3, 2022

In an exciting partnership with the Earth Species Project, we're working on our ability to understand other species, like whales. There could be a number of benefits, and challenges, involved with decoding the language of other animals. Check out this panel discussion led by Aza Raskin from the World Economic Forum held in San Francisco on October 25, 2022.


Eavesdropping on Antarctic Minke Whales

Researchers didn't even know Antarctic minke whales existed until the 1990s. Now, for the first time ever, our team offers an unprecedented opportunity to listen to the vocalizations of one of the smallest baleen whale species. You can listen to the recordings of four different calls that have been identified here, and read more about the technology used to eavesdrop on these animals.

Wildlife in the Covid-19 'Anthropause'

The COVID-19 anthropause has prompted some researchers to quickly modify existing studies. One researcher, Dr. Ari Friedlaender at UC Santa Cruz,  realized the pandemic offered an unprecedented opportunity to study the effects reduced boat traffic and accompanied noise, which can stress marine life, may have on whales in Monterey Bay. Read the full article here.

Monitoring whales from space

Scientists have found that studying high-resolution images of whales from space is a feasible way to estimate their populations. A team, led by British Antarctic Survey (BAS; press release here), compared satellite images to data collected from traditional ship-based surveys.  This study is a big step towards developing a cost-effective method to study whales in remote and inaccessible places. Check out the full scientific article published in Scientific Reports here.

Blue Whale Hearts May Beat Only Twice a Minute During a Dive

Nature’s most extreme animal has an equally extreme circulatory system, researchers found. Read the full New York Times article here.

A blue whale's heartbeat has been recorded for the first time - and the results are fascinating

For the first time, scientists have recorded the heart rate of a blue whale, uncovering new information about the biology of the world's largest mammal The full article can be found on CNN online here.

2018: A year in stunning conservation photography

Take a look at just a few of WWF's favorite photographs from 2018, including an Antarctic collaboration between WWF and the Friedlaender BTBEL lab back in Santa Cruz. The full article can be found on WWF online here.

WHALES OF THE ANTARCTIC PENINSULA | Science and Conservation for the 21st Century

Check out the new report put together by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in collaboration with PI Dr. Ari Friedlaender and Ph.D. student Michele Modest which talks about the challenges that Antarctic whales face today. For the full report, click here.

The Big Meltdown

"As the Antarctic Peninsula heats up, the rules of life there are being ripped apart. Alarmed scientists aren’t sure what all the change means for the future." Check out this wonderful online article through National Geographic featuring work by Dr. Friedlaender and his lab at UCSC.

Humpback Whale Baby Boom Near Antarctica

In a rare piece of good news for whales, featuring work by Ph.D. student Logan Pallin,  humpbacks who live and breed in the southern oceans near Antarctica appear to be making a comeback, with females in recent years having a high pregnancy rate and giving birth to more calves. Find the full New York Times piece here. Find the full text of the scientific article here.

The Calm and Quiet Antarctica | Continent 7

Dr. Friedlaender’s work was recently featured extensively in the National Geographic show Continent 7. To read more about Continent 7 and see clips, click here.