Keith Hernandez

I graduated in 2011 with a BS in Marine Science and a minor in Biology from the University of  Hawaii at Hilo. My undergraduate thesis was a baseline population assessment of humpback whales wintering in Hilo Bay. I estimated population size using a mark-recapture model, based on the number of individuals identified from photographs of their flukes.

After finishing my degree, I was employed as a passive acoustics research analyst with the Protected Species Branch of the National Marine Fisheries Service in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. I worked with the passive acoustics group on several data sets, including extraction of dolphin whistles from towed hydrophone arrays to use in automated detectors, the classification of humpback whale social sounds and prospecting for large baleen whales in recordings from Oman. My primary project however was to analyze a data set recorded in waters southeast of Gloucester, MA for the acoustic presence of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua). Atlantic cod, like many fish species, produce sound during spawning seasons either as a reproductive advertisement or as an aggressive display to potential competitors. While their sounds have been studied in captivity for decades, few studies have attempted to record their sounds in the wild for extended periods of time. We set out a bottom-mounted recording unit for three months in a known spawning ground, and attempted to discern seasonal and diet trends in the acoustic presence of cod, as well as compare in situ measurements of cod sounds with those reported from laboratory studies. I am currently in the process of revising a manuscript describing this work, which I hope to have published within the next year.

While my previous research experiences have been primarily focused on population biology and passive acoustics, I hope to investigate Pinniped feeding ecology using biochemical techniques (stable isotopes and/or fatty acid analysis) for my Masters thesis.

Find out more about Atlantic cod acoustic research: http://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/psb/acoustics/psbAcousticBehaviorFish.html

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