Physical-Biological Interactions of Harbor Porpoise Habitat in San Francisco Bay

Cost:    $5 Donation goes toward Student Research Grants

Laura Duffy: ”Physical-Biological Interactions of Harbor Porpoise Habitat in San Francisco Bay”

ggcr porpoise

Harbor Porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) are a small cetacean that inhabit multiple areas along the Pacific Coast. Historically, population studies have primarily been based on aerial surveys and post-mortem data. Golden Gate Cetacean Research began observing these animals up close in San Francisco Bay in 2008, studying their behavior and identifying individuals. Laura is the first graduate student to work with the nonprofit organization, and will investigate how porpoises use chemical and physical aspects of their surroundings in relation to tide flux in San Francisco Bay Estuary. The goal of her study is to produce a fine-scale habitat model, to make biological predictions based on field observations and physical patterns. Laura recognizes wildlife populations as important environmental indicators of ecosystem history, mechanics, and health. She does not only want to protect these populations, but really strives to scientifically comprehend why it is important to do so. Her research will help improve knowledge on environmental state of the Bay, its ecological significance to surrounding areas, and add scientific significance to pre-existing public conservation awareness.

Biography 

L Duffy

Laura Duffy is a San Francisco State University Masters Student in the Marine Conservation Lab at the RombergTiburonCenter for Environmental Studies. She is working with Golden Gate Cetacean Research to complete her Masters Thesis on Harbor Porpoises in San FranciscoBay. A love of the outdoors and staying active has always made Laura an enthusiast of Natural Science. She was raised between two areas of New Jersey: a small, but highly populated, barrier island, and a fast-developing rural area of the Pinelands. From a young age, she recognized both the good and bad affects human populations can have on their environment. In both her education and career goals, she takes a respectful conservation initiative to explore the world. Laura received a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology from the College of Charleston in 2009. During her senior year and post-graduation, she became very active in wildlife conservation, completing two internships and numerous volunteer projects, including a NOAA Bottlenose Dolphin Abundance and Distribution Study. She worked as a Fisheries Observer in Alaska for a year before moving to California in 2011 and applying to graduate school. Laura is extending her education to learn better data collection and analysis methods; she hopes to establish a career as a Field Biologist and work for a non-profit or government organization in the future.


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  • Lynette R. K.

    Wonderful information presentation regarding the harbor porpoise return, presence in the bay, and Laura's research project. We (SF Bay ACS Chapter non-profit cetacean organization) feel very strongly about undergrad and graduate students research and are happy that we are able to give research grants to selected students like Laura. They are the future of our oceans and their inhabitants.

    June 25

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