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Kate Stafford

Principal Oceanographer

Affiliate Associate Professor, Oceanography





Department Affiliation



2000-present and while at APL-UW

Antarctic blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus intermedia) recorded at the Equator in the Atlantic Ocean

Samaran, F., A. Berne, E.C. Leroy, S. Moreira, K.M. Stafford, M. Maia, and J.-Y. Royer, "Antarctic blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus intermedia) recorded at the Equator in the Atlantic Ocean," Mar. Mammal Sci., EOR, doi:10.1111/mms.12559, 2018.

15 Nov 2018

Seasonal occurrence and diel calling behavior of Antarctic blue whales and fin whales in relation to environmental conditions off the west coast of South Africa

Shabangu, F.W., K.P. Findlay, D. Yemane, K.M. Stafford, M. van den Berg, B. Blows, and R.K. Andrew, "Seasonal occurrence and diel calling behavior of Antarctic blue whales and fin whales in relation to environmental conditions off the west coast of South Africa," J. Mar. Syst., EOR, doi:10.1016/j.jmarsys.2018.11.002, 2018.

More Info

13 Nov 2018

Passive acoustic monitoring was used to detect the sounds of rarely sighted Antarctic blue and fin whales to investigate their seasonal occurrence (as presence or absence of whale calls) and behaviour (as determined from call rates) in the Benguela ecosystem. Data were collected using autonomous acoustic recorders deployed on oceanographic moorings for 16.26 months off the west coast of South Africa in 2014 and 2015. Satellite derived environmental variables were used as predictors of whale acoustic occurrence and behaviour. Migratory Antarctic blue and fin whales were acoustically present in South African waters between May and August with call occurrence peaks in July whereas some fin whales extended their presence to November. No whale calls were recorded in summer for either species, suggesting whales use the Benguela ecosystem as an overwintering ground and migration route. Antarctic blue whales produced both their characteristic Z-call and their feeding associated D-call. Fin whales produced calls characteristic of animals from the eastern Antarctic fin whale acoustic population. Random forest models identified environmental variables such as sea surface temperature anomaly, sea surface height, wind speed, months of the year, Ekman upwelling index and log-transformed chlorophyll-a as the most important predictors of call occurrence and call rates of blue and fin whales. Here we present the first acoustic recordings of Antarctic blue and fin whales in the Benguela ecosystem, and provide preliminary information to investigate seasonal abundance and distribution of these large baleen whale populations. This work demonstrates the feasibility of cost-effectively monitoring Antarctic top-consumer baleen whales in the Benguela ecosystem.

Increasing detections of killer whales (Orcinus orca) in the Pacific Arctic

Stafford, K.M., "Increasing detections of killer whales (Orcinus orca) in the Pacific Arctic," Mar. Mammal Sci., EOR, doi:10.1111/mms.12551, 2018.

27 Oct 2018

More Publications

In The News

Meet the bowhead whale, the jazz singer of the deep

Science Friday

Kate Stafford joins host John Dankowsky on the radio program to talk about the diverse songbook of bowhead whales. Over a three-year period, Stafford recorded bowhead whales in the Fram Strait in the Arctic singing 184 different melodies. The whales also altered their songs from year to year.

6 Apr 2018

Bowhead whales, the 'jazz musicians' of the Arctic, sing many different songs

UW News, Hannah Hickey

"If humpback whale song is like classical music, bowheads are jazz," says Kate Stafford. "The sound is more freeform. And when we looked through four winters of acoustic data, not only were there never any song types repeated between years, but each season had a new set of songs."

3 Apr 2018

UW research: Listen to the 'crazy, crazy' songs of bowhead whales

Seattle Times, Sandi Doughton

Kate Stafford and her colleagues have been eavesdropping on the massive, mysterious beasts for a decade. Among their early discoveries was that the whales sing nearly nonstop throughout the dark Arctic winter, hidden beneath thick sea ice. Now, the researchers have published the largest set of bowhead recordings ever compiled, documenting an astonishing repertoire of vocalizations that may be among the most diverse in the animal kingdom.

3 Apr 2018

More News Items

Acoustics Air-Sea Interaction & Remote Sensing Center for Environmental & Information Systems Center for Industrial & Medical Ultrasound Electronic & Photonic Systems Ocean Engineering Ocean Physics Polar Science Center