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Michelle Modest, "Examining Southern Hemisphere Humpback Whale Migratory Routes from Foraging to Breeding Grounds"

  • The Bay Model Visitor Center 2100 Bridgeway Sausalito, CA, 94965 United States (map)

Join ACS San Francisco Bay Chapter for a captivating presentation by Michelle Modest, UC Santa Cruz Ph. D. candidate and past ACS San Francisco Bay Chapter grant recipient.

Southern hemisphere humpback whale populations spend a large portion of the year breeding in tropical waters and migrating between this region and their summer feeding grounds in the Antarctic. They travel great distances during their seasonal migration, the farthest migration of any mammal, with distances up to 11,706 miles recorded. Despite this impressive feat, minimal information is known about their migratory journeys.

A team of researchers has tagged numerous humpback whales with ARGOS satellite tags in the Antarctic feeding grounds over the past several years and have collected data on complete tracks from Antarctica to the western coast of South America. This is the first study to examine South Pacific humpback whale migratory routes from foraging to breeding grounds, and one of the few to have a workable sample size. Michelle will share how this information will be used to create a comprehensive overview of migratory behaviors and characteristics of these magnificent marine mammals.

Admission is free.  Registration is recommended as we expect a high level of interest!  We’ll reserve seats for Eventbrite registrants.

Donations are encouraged, $10 general, $5 students. Donations support education programs that build appreciation for whales, dolphins, and porpoises, and research grants which help the next generation of marine scientists deepen understanding of threats to cetaceans and find solutions to protect and conserve them.


Michelle Modest originally hails from State College, Pennsylvania. She received her BA from Yale University, and then went on Imperial College London to complete an MSc in Conservation Science. At Imperial, she worked with Brandon Southall to complete her thesis titled Anthropogenic noise pollution: Understanding the effects of mid-frequency active sonar on Risso’s dolphin behavior. She is now a PhD student in Ari Friedlaender’s lab at UC Santa Cruz, and is very excited to spend the next 5 years  investigating the effects of climate change on humpback whales in the Western Antarctic Peninsula.  Michelle is a past ACS San Francisco Bay Chapter research grant awardee. 

Earlier Event: April 28
Spring Whale Watch Fundraiser