On the Expedition
Spend an amazing weekend in Southern California gathering critical data on Pacific grey whales during their winter migration.
Join gentle grey whales as they migrate along the stunning southern California coast during the winter and early spring months, and collect data that will help researchers design better ways to protect them and see if they're being affected by climate change.
After an introductory lecture on the whales, their migration patterns, and the threats they're facing, you'll move quickly into training that will help you make a difference for researchers out on the water and in the lab. For about half of your weekend, you'll be out on the water conducting behavioral observations of whales, recording valuable data, and taking photographs of individual whales from whale-watch boats.
On shore in Rancho Palos Verdes, where you'll work for about a quarter of the time, you'll use theodolites (precisions surveying devices) to observe and record whales' surfacing and blow-hole rates. Finally, you'll spend the remaining quarter of your work time in the library at the Cabrillo Aquarium in nearby Sand Pedro. Under the training and supervision of Dr. Lei Lani Stelle, you'll help her and her research colleagues match photographs from your whale observations with the photographic database of whales.
Your expedition will conclude with presentations from Dr. Stelle's current students and a wrap-up dinner presentation to help put your weekend experience in the context of the larger study.
Please note: though the team will arrive and the expedition will begin on Friday night, training and field work do not start until Saturday morning. You will be getting two full days of research work and training, with the first evening serving as rendezvous and team-building time.
Meals and Accommodations
You'll be staying with the members of the research team in quality hotel accommodations relatively near the water and onshore research locations; exact hotel still to be determined. Volunteers will most likely share rooms (same gender only), with two volunteers per room. Breakfasts will most likely be at the hotel, dinners will be at area restaurants, and lunches will be bag lunch/takeout sandwiches.
More details on meals and accommodations will be coming soon. Please contact us via email or call for more information.
About the Research Area
This short duration expedition will give you the chance to experience a few different locations in the coastal Los Angeles area, from San Pedro (where you’ll work at the Cabrillo Aquarium), to Redondo Beach, to Rancho Palos Verdes (where you’ll observe whales from the Point Vicente Interpretive Center).
Rancho Palos Verdes, a suburb of Los Angeles, sits atop the Palos Verdes Peninsula; with its expansive views of the Pacific Ocean, it is one of the premiere whale-watch and whale research spots along the California coast. Rancho Palos Verdes is home to the Point Vicente Interpretive Center, which re-opened in 2006 after extensive renovation and expansion and features multiple interactive exhibits on the natural and cultural history of the Peninsula, emphasizing the Pacific grey whale migration. Nearby, the Point Vicente Lighthouse, built in 1926, is on the National Register of Historic Places, and the Palos Verdes Nature Preserve is the largest preserve of coastal open space between San Diego and Santa Barbara.