Event Details

Blue whale off the coast of Patagonia,   Chile. Photo by Daniel Casado.

Blue whale off the coast of Patagonia, Chile. Photo by Daniel Casado.

The Woods Hole Public Library will continue its popular series of Winter Travel Talks with an illustrated talk by Woods Hole Oceanographic’s Alessandro Bocconcelli on Wednesday, February 3 at 7:30 PM. Alex has been carrying out research on blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) in northern Patagonia, Chile, for several years.

As a collaboration between WHOI and the Melimoyu Ecosystem Research Institute (MERI), the main purpose of the research is to gain a better understanding of the population of blue whales in the Gulf of Corcovado and the Moraleda Channel areas. Several digital recording tags (DTAGs) were deployed in 2014 and 2015. DTAGs are miniature sound and orientation recording tags that are attached via suction cups, which provide information about diving, feeding, and vocal behavior. Whales were photographed to enable identification of individual whales and comparisons of images collected across years. Overhead images were obtained from a drone and were used to measure body condition.

In addition to the blue whale studies, photographs and acoustic recordings of all marine mammal species encountered were obtained whenever possible; these included humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), Peale’s dolphins (Lagenorhynchus australis), Chilean dolphins (Cephalorhynchus eutropia), and bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). Continuation of this collaboration has great potential to provide information to policy makers regarding how to protect the unique habitats in this region.

Bocconcelli was born in Italy, grew up on the Italian Riviera (Liguria), and graduated from the Italian Merchant Marine Institute, licensed as a Captain (unlimited tonnage/all oceans) in 1982. He is also a consummate sailor, sailing his own multi-hull right up to his mooring in Great Harbor.

He has worked as a mariner and commercial fisherman both in Italy and New England. Alex arrived at Woods Hole in the summer of 1985 as an MIT summer student, earning his BS in Ocean Engineering from MIT in 1986, and a Masters in Ocean Engineering in 1991.
He is currently a research specialist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, has served on more than 100 research cruises, and has authored and/or co-authored 50 papers. He has worked on marine mammal research, fisheries, mooring technology, and science coordination at sea.

Alex and his family are Woods Hole residents and all, as well as his dogs, are avid patrons of the Woods Hole Library.

The talk is free and open to the public. For more information, call the Library at 508-548-8961.