Investing in the Next Generation of Researchers
One of the goals of Whale Trust is to help train and support the next generation by offering mentorship, internship opportunities, field assistance and financial support when we can for undergraduate and graduate students.
YALYR ASTUDILLO-SCALIA, ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY
Raging Hormones! Yalyr Astudillo-Scalia wants to help us discover if changes in the behavior of humpback whales are affected by fluctuating hormone levels during the breeding season. Is that why some males appear more aggressive – chasing and charging around a female – while others simply lie stationary next to her? Is that why some females try to escape males and some seek them out? Whale Trust initially began this project in concertand Lahainaluna High School several years ago, and we are thrilled to have a doctorate student onboard to help lead this effort. As well as collecting the samples, Whale Trust was able to cover the costs of Yalyr’s preliminary analysis at the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) laboratory in San Diego. The preliminary results look promising – certainly promising enough to continue. Why is this important? Understanding whale hormones will provide insight and context into many behavior patterns, and may eventually help us to determine pregnancy or estrus cycles in humpback whales.
HALEY ROBB, UNIVERSITY OF VICTORIA
Haley is a graduate of Lahainaluna High School and one of the first high school students who participated in our collaborative project with Lahainaluna High School and Makana Aloha Foundation to mentor young scientists. Haley, now a Jr. working on a biology degree at University of Victoria, has returned to the Whale Trust team to do a summer internship. During her 6-week internship, Haley will primarily focus on updating our Hawaii catalogue of humpback whales and comparing identification photographs taken in Hawaii with those taken by our colleagues in Alaska. Welcome back, Haley!