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Panel Discussion: Where the Whales Are – Past, Present, & Future

April 25, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

A Panel Discussion
Thursday, April 25, 2019
6:00 PM at the Center for Coastal Studies

The Provincetown Public Library and Center for Coastal Studies are proud to announce a special evening of conversation about whales in honor of the Library’s fourth annual Moby-Dick Marathon Reading.

Wizard, photographed May 2005.

On Thursday, April 25 at 6:00 p.m., all are invited to an engaging panel discussion about the regions of the ocean that are most important to whales with panelists who are experts in their field and have deep roots in Cape Cod, New England, whale research and conservation, the whale watch industry, and the history of whaling.

As documented through the details recorded in the Yankee whaling log books, different species of whales were found in different regions at different times of year. The whalers based their hunt from this knowledge. Today, researchers also study whale movement and preference of geographic areas for feeding, breeding, and calving.

The panelists will explore the past and current distributions of whale species common to Cape Cod to see if whale “hotspots” have changed over time. Conversation will also center on why these particular regions are so attractive to certain whale species; the conservation efforts in place to protect these important areas; what potential threats whales and their habitat may face now and in the future; and the science and management used to address these issues.

The featured panelists are Benjamin Haskell, Deputy Superintendent for NOAA’s Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary; Christy Hudak, Research Associate in the Right Whale Ecology Program at Center for Coastal Studies; Judy Lund, scholar and former curator at New Bedford Whaling Museum; and David Mattila, Coordinator of the Global Whale Entanglement Response Network for the International Whaling Commission and Center for Coastal Studies. The discussion will be moderated by Dennis Minsky, whale watch naturalist and marine educator. Detailed biographical sketches are below.

Brief introductory presentations will be followed by an informal panel discussion which will allow for an open and interesting dialogue and exchange of information between panelists and participants.

The program will be held at the Center for Coastal Studies, 5 Holway Avenue, Provincetown, MA and is FREE and open to the public.

For more information on the panel discussion or the Moby-Dick Marathon Reading, please contact Melissa Lowe of the Center for Coastal Studies at [email protected] or Brittany Taylor at the Provincetown Public Library [email protected].


Panelist and Moderator Bios:

Judy Lund has degrees from Wellesley and Yale. She served as curator at New Bedford Whaling Museum and has been freelancing for a number of years. Her half a dozen books and many papers focus on the history of the town of Dartmouth and on the people who went whaling—masters, crew members, crooks!  She was part of the History of Marine Animal Populations research group that studied historic whale populations and their locations in the various ocean basins. Her current project whalinghistory.org is an effort to make whaling history information more available to researchers and to the public.

Benjamin (Ben) Haskell has been with NOAA for 25 years working to protect special ocean places such as the Florida Keys and Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuaries. He currently serves as the Deputy Superintendent for Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary in Scituate, MA. His responsibilities include facilities and vessel management, management planning, maritime heritage management, enforcement coordination, sister sanctuary coordination, and diving.  He was instrumental in drafting the comprehensive management plan for the sanctuary which includes action plans for marine mammal protection. He received his Master’s degree in marine and coastal policy from the University of Maryland in 1997 and an undergraduate degree from College of the Atlantic in 1984.

Christy Hudak has been a Research Associate in the Right Whale Ecology Program at the Center for Coastal Studies for over eight years where she focuses on studying the food resources of the North Atlantic right whale and assists with aerial surveys and photo identification of this endangered species. In addition, Christy is delving into the world of microplastics, by studying what types of microplastics right whales are potentially eating. Previously she held a position with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission heading the Manatee Program at the Tequesta Field Station. She has an M.S. in marine biology from Nova Southeastern University in Florida.

David Mattila shares his time and expertise between the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and Center for Coastal Studies coordinating the Global Whale Entanglement Response Network and managing the entanglement capacity building program and training workshops. He has studied whales throughout the world’s oceans and invented some of the techniques now used to release entangled whales. He has also been involved in establishing the USA’s regional entanglement response networks.

A life-long student of nature, Dennis Minsky was the chair of Provincetown’s Conservation Commission for twelve years and is currently the chair of the Town’s Open Space Committee. Minsky first was associated with the Center for Coastal Studies in 1995, and has been educating people about whales and the ocean ecosystem ever since, both on Dolphin Fleet whale watches and while walking the beach with his rescue dog Dory. He has worked in Provincetown since 1968 and moved here full time in 2005.


April 25, 2019
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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Provincetown Public Library
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Center for Coastal Studies
5 Holway Avenue
Provincetown, MA 02657-1430 United States
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