California Sea Grant Webinar – Restorative Aquaculture in California – November 19th

Restorative Aquaculture in California Webinar

Thursday, November 19, 2020 from 5:00-6:00pm PST

California Sea Grant and Save Our Shores are pleased to present a short introduction to three of the restoration and conservation oriented aquaculture activities underway in California. Tune in to this webinar hosted by SJSU/MLML research faculty member Dr. Luke Gardner to hear about endangered white abalone’s road to recovery, efforts to rebuild decimated Olympia oyster populations, and sea urchin ranching with a view to restore our kelp forests.

Learn more and register here.




Event Recording – 8th Annual MLML In-House Open House

At the start of every fall semester, Director Jim Harvey hosts the annual Moss Landing Marine Laboratories In-House Open House to welcome new students and introduce them to the incredible research community at MLML. This event features all SJSU/MLML faculty members and research affiliates presenting 2 minute, 2 slide talks about who they are and what they do.

This year we hosted the 8th Annual MLML In-House Open House virtually due to Covid-19. We invite you to watch the recording and learn more the brilliant marine science research we are doing all over the world.

Thesis defense by Mason Cole – November 6th Livestream


"Detecting Feeding and Estimating the Energetic Costs of Diving in California Sea Lions (Zalophus californianus) Using 3-Axis Accelerometers"
A Thesis Defense by Mason Cole

The Vertebrate Ecology Lab

MLML Live-Stream | November 6, 2020 at 12 pm

     There is written evidence that when Mason was in third grade he wanted to be an "adventure biologist!", which sounds like an awesome gig. He promptly forgot this dream and ended up pursuing a pre-med undergrad track (B.S. in General Biology from UCSD in 2010), only to change his mind again after graduating. Drawn by wilderness and adventure, and hoping to somehow stumble upon a fulfilling career choice, he booked it to Chilean Patagonia and wandered northward through mountains, diverse volunteer gigs in conservation biology, and his entire bank account before crawling reluctantly back to California. Two years later, armed with experience in both tough field work and poverty, he was ready to take on grad school!  Through hard work and perfect timing he ended up in Dr. McDonald's Vertebrate Ecology Lab, where he couldn't be happier. It was during this time (2015-2020) that Mason's 3rd grade "adventure biologist!" card was unearthed like a fossil from sedimentary layers of nostalgic keepsakes in his parents' home...COINCIDENCE? I think not.
     Mason's research interests currently include the foraging ecology and energetics of large predators, with ample room for broadening this horizon in the future. Mason is also passionate about scientific outreach, outdoor education, and active conservation (habitat conservation and restoration), and has worked (or is currently working) professionally in each of these avenues.

Thesis Abstract:

Knowledge of when animals feed and the energetic costs of foraging is key to understanding their foraging ecology and energetic trade-offs.  Despite this importance, our ability to collect these data in marine mammals remains limited.  In this thesis, I address knowledge gaps in both feeding detection and fine-scale diving energetic costs in a model species, the California sea lion (Zalophus californianus).  In Chapter 1 I developed and tested an analysis method to accurately detect prey capture using 3-axis accelerometers mounted on the head and back of two trained sea lions.  An acceleration signal pattern isolated from a ‘training’ subset of synced video and acceleration data was used to build a feeding detector. In blind trials on the remaining data, this detector accurately parsed true feeding from other motions (91-100% true positive rate, 0-4.8% false positive rate), improving upon similar published methods.  In Chapter 2, I used depth and acceleration data to estimate the changing body density of 8 wild sea lions throughout dives, and used those data to calculate each sea lion’s energetic expenditure during descent and ascent at fine temporal scales.  Energy expenditure patterns closely followed the influence of buoyancy changes with depth. Importantly, sea lions used more energy per second but less energy per meter as dive depth increased, revealing high costs of deep diving.  Combined, these chapters further our understanding of California sea lion foraging ecology and provide new methods to aid similar future studies.

Mason Cole Presents: Detecting Feeding and Estimating the Energetic Costs of Diving in California Sea Lions (Zalophus californianus) Using 3-Axis Accelerometers

Webinar – SJSU College of Science Virtual Seminar – May 1st


Phil Heller, SJSU Department of Computer Science
Presenting: "Software Without Algorithms: Deep Learning in the Deep Ocean"

SJSU Webinar | May 1st, 2020 at 4pm


Deep Learning is an artificial intelligence technique that is especially successful at processing images. Although it is widespread in society, it is not well understood outside the Computer Science research community. This talk will explain Deep Learning in lay terms and then will describe 3 ways it is being applied in the Heller research group, which develops computer analysis techniques for understanding the effects of climate change on the world's oceans.


Webinar – Passive Acoustic Monitoring in California’s National Marine Sanctuaries by MLML alumna Angela Szesciorka

Register Here (free)

Date/Time: February 19, 2020 at 2 pm Pacific / 5 pm Eastern

Presented by: Samara Haver, Ph.D candidate at Oregon State University; Angela R. Szesciorka and Vanessa ZoBell, Ph.D. candidates at Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Description: Acoustic signals travel quickly and efficiently over long distances in the aquatic environment; thus, sound has become the principal sensory modality used by many marine animal species. This is particularly true for acoustically oriented marine mammals that rely on sound to communicate, perceive their environment, detect and avoid predators, forage for food, and navigate. Passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) is used to measure, monitor, and determine the sources of sound in underwater environments, enabling scientists to eavesdrop on the acoustic behavior of marine animals (e.g., whale song, fish chorusing, snapping shrimp), natural abiotic sounds (e.g., wind, earthquakes), and human generated sounds (e.g., cargo vessels). By utilizing PAM tools in national marine sanctuaries, researchers are able to collect data to answer questions about these valuable marine habitats and provide important condition information to managers and policymakers. In this webinar, three Ph.D. candidates that are NOAA Dr. Nancy Foster Scholars will discuss current PAM research efforts taking place in some of California’s national marine sanctuaries.

Vertebrate Ecology Lab at Science Saturday at the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History

Science Saturday — Animal Athletes

  • Saturday, February 29, 2020
  • 10:00 AM  3:00 PM
  • Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History165 Forest AvenuePacific GroveUnited States (map)

This highest jumping, fastest flying, strongest biting Science Saturday of the year focuses on the Olympians in the animal kingdom. From falcons to mountain lions, and beetles to beavers, every athlete has a story to tell. Join us for crafts, activities, and science as we sprint, jump, and dive into the world of Animal Athletes. As always, admission to Science Saturday is free, and the event runs from 10:00 am - 3:00 pm.

*** Students from the Vertebrate Ecology lab will be tabling at the event***

Beach Clean-Up with Save Our Shores at Carmel River State Beach

February 29, 2020 @ 9:00 am – 11:00 am

Join Save Our Shores for a cleanup at Carmel River State Beach!

Please meet us in the parking lot off Scenic Rd.

We recommend that all volunteers dress in layers, wear sun protection, and bring a filled reusable water bottle. Save Our Shores encourages volunteers to avoid single-use plastics at our cleanups. Learn more about our current campaigns to reduce plastic pollution.

Volunteers under the age of 18 MUST be accompanied by an adult. Closed-toed shoes are required at all Save Our Shores cleanups.

Restrooms and drinking fountains are available onsite. Parking may be limited, so please plan accordingly.

No RSVPs are necessary, but you can print and complete our waiver beforehand to save time: Be sure to bring your signed copy (1 per volunteer) to the event.

If you have additional questions, please contact

Friends of Hopkins Lecture Series

Whale TV: camera tags enable transformative discoveries in the lives of ocean giants (PUBLIC)

FEBRUARY 11, 2020 -

7:30PM TO 8:30PM

At-sea adventures in whale bio-logging continue in the Goldbogen Lab! In this episode, we will describe how we measured the first ever heart rate of a blue whale in the wild. We will also solve the mystery of how humpback whales sneak up on fast fish using stealth and deception. Lastly, we will explain why whales are big but not bigger. Don't miss this opportunity to hear all the latest from Dr. Goldbogen at this public event!

The 2020 Sea Lion Bowl


Northern California's Sea Lion Bowl is an ocean science competition held at the CSUMB campus since Fall 2017. The quiz-like tournament began in 1998 and is one of 25 regional ocean science competitions, the winners of which move on to compete at the National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB). The event is made possible thanks to a network of volunteers serving roles such as judges, moderators, and scorekeepers (for general roles, volunteer registration is here). These efforts can encourage high schoolers to consider STEM degrees, and ocean research/careers in their futures. Consortium Faculty Member, Dr. Corey Garza, volunteers as a regional coordinator every year and will do so once again this year. For this competition, MLML will host a table showcasing specimens & research equipment for an afternoon of outreach education.

MLML is therefore looking to recruit researchers who will share their expertise and research with students. Please reply to Kathleen Donahue by Jan 24 if you would be willing to host a demo table from 2-4pm on Sat, Feb 1 2020 in the CSUMB library (for other roles see above). As an example, Dr. Corey Garza and his marine landscape ecology lab are hosting a drone demonstration. All ideas for demos/tabletop activities are welcome. This is a great opportunity to share your research with high schools from around the Central Coast and Bay Area, plus, all Sea Lion Bowl volunteers receive breakfast, lunch, and a t-shirt!

Dec. 12th Lecture on Seaweed by Jeffrey Hughey at the Pacific Grove Natural History Museum

"What’s in a Name? Seaweed" by Jeffery Hughey from Hartnell College
Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History
Thursday, December 12th, 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

The ICN (International Code of Nomenclature for fungi, algae, and plants) states that species names are based on type specimens. These are either a single specimen conserved in a herbarium or museum, or a published or unpublished illustration. Unfortunately, type specimens are not always thoroughly examined prior to the use of a name. This has led to the gross misapplication of names in peer-reviewed scientific papers for the last 100 or more years. In his talk, Dr. Jeffery Hughey from Hartnell College will discuss his recent findings from analyzing the DNA of seaweed type specimens, as well as summarize the naming of new species, and the identification of collections of invasive seaweeds in the Monterey Bay.  More info here.