Free evening talk at Sequoia Park Zoo: studying marine mammals -- dead or alive

February’s Sequoia Park Zoo conservation lecture will open a window into what and how we can learn from the creatures that live out their lives in the world’s oceans, both while they are alive and after they die.

On Wednesday, Feb. 13, Dawn Goley, professor of zoology at Humboldt State University and director of the marine mammal education and research program, will present a summary of marine mammal conservation work in northern California. She’ll discuss the long-term research being done on gray whales and Steller sea lions offshore, as well as the new shore survey program that documents stranded marine mammal patterns in northern California. A highlight of Dr. Goley’s talk will be her experience with the gray whale cow and calf that swam up the Klamath River in 2011.

"I feel very fortunate to be the marine mammalogist at HSU," says Dr. Goley. "I’ve been studying marine mammals for over 25 years because they truly fascinate me - there is so much we don’t know about them. It takes patience and persistence to understand the stories of their lives, but with each piece of the puzzle that we discover, the picture becomes clearer and compels us to search for the next piece. It is an honor to share this excitement and journey with my colleagues and my students and I look forward to sharing it with the broader community in Humboldt."

Dr. Goley has been studying marine mammal biology in northern California since her arrival at Humboldt State in 1996. In 1997, she developed the Marine Mammal Education and Research Program (MMERP) at HSU, enabling her to combine her primary interests of studying local marine mammals and mentoring graduate and undergraduate students.

Since that time, Dr. Goley and MMERP have been conducting long-term monitoring studies on the ecology of gray whales, Steller sea lions and harbor seals in northern California and Oregon. As the coordinator for the HSU marine mammal stranding program, Dr. Goley is also actively engaged in studying the marine mammals that strand along the coast and coordinating the response to stranded marine mammals. Through collaborations with federal, tribal, state, academic and non-academic groups, Dr. Goley and her students have been able to piece together a deeper understanding of the biology of local marine mammals.

The talk will take place in the zoo’s classroom in the Secrets of the Forest building at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 13, and a reception will be held a half hour beforehand. There is no charge to attend, and both zoo members and non-members are invited. Enter through the main zoo gates.

"There is so much life in the oceans that we know so little about," says Gretchen Ziegler, zoo manager and chair of the conservation advisory committee. "We are lucky to have a marine biologist such as Dr. Goley at HSU who can share their stories with us."

The next lecture in the series will take place on March 13. Bill Zielinski, research ecologist at the US Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station in Arcata, will introduce us to one of the least known but most endangered mammals in northern California: the Point Arena mountain beaver.

Sequoia Park Zoo connects the community with animals to inspire wonder, understanding and conservation of wildlife and the natural world. Established in 1907, Sequoia Park Zoo is the oldest zoo in California and one of the smallest accredited zoos in the country. Sequoia Park Zoo is located at 3414 W St. in Eureka. For more information visit: