Laura González García

Laura González García
University of the Azores | UAc · Grupo da Biodiversidade dos Açores (cE3c)

PhD in Marine Science, Technology and Management

About

29
Publications
6,529
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
32
Citations
Introduction
With extensive hands-on experience in whale watching in the Azores, my work highlight these opportunistic data as a highly valuable source of information valid for research. I've focused my research on spatial and temporal distribution and habitat modelling of cetaceans in the Azores, with a sound background on physical oceanography and involved in photo-identification of Atlantic cetaceans.
Additional affiliations
September 2020 - June 2021
University of the Azores
Position
  • PostDoc Position
Description
  • Working to Maintain, Expand and Explore the MONICET platform (www.monicet.net)
December 2013 - March 2019
University of Vigo
Position
  • PhD Student
January 2010 - present
Futurismo Azores Adventures
Position
  • Researcher
Description
  • Leading the biologists team of the company, including daily tourism, education and research activities; supervising internships and undergraduate and master students.

Publications

Publications (29)
Article
Full-text available
Blue whales are sighted every year around the Azores islands, which apparently provide an important seasonal foraging area. In this paper we aim to characterize habitat preferences and analyze the temporal distribution of blue whales around São Miguel Island. To do so, we applied Generalized Additive Models to an opportunistic cetacean occurrence d...
Article
Over the last decades global warming has caused an increase in ocean temperature, acidification and oxygen loss which has led to changes in nutrient cycling and primary production affecting marine species at multiple trophic levels. While knowledge about the impacts of climate change in cetacean's species is still scarce, practitioners and policyma...
Article
Full-text available
This article summarises a sperm whale photo-id match from the Gulf of Mexico to the Azores, another match from the Bahamas to the Azores and a match from the Gulf of Mexico to the Bahamas
Data
The dataset was collected by whale watching companies in the Azores between 2009 and 2020 as a contribution to the long term monitoring of cetaceans. It contains the identification of the species observed, the geographic position of the observation, the life stages and its respective abundance and behaviour, as well as related environmental variabl...
Article
Fin whales and sei whales are two migratory baleen whale species sighted every year across the waters of the Azores. Improved understanding of the ecological niche and habitat requirements of these baleen whales is needed to identify persistent or predictable oceanographic events that may set the time of their migration, as well as local or ephemer...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Ecological systems usually operate at large temporal scales, which are not always considered in traditional data collection. For instance, some questions, such as climate change or anthropogenic pressure potential effects, require long-term datasets to understand how ecosystems may respond to any disturbances or impacts. In the short run, tradition...
Poster
Full-text available
This poster was designed after creating a complete catalogue of the fin whales sighted off São Miguel and checked for resightings during our 11-year study.
Poster
Full-text available
Orcas (Orcinus orca) are widespread throughout the North Atlantic. However, their conservation status is still data deficient, and little is known about their populations and distribution, especially in mid-Atlantic waters like the Azores. Opportunistic data collected year-round on board whale watching vessels between 2006 and 2020 were used to as...
Poster
Full-text available
Preliminary results of the photo ID of common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) in Sao Miguel collected from the opportunistic platform of Futurismo.
Poster
Full-text available
Blue whales are sighted every year around the Azores islands, which apparently provide an important seasonal foraging area. In this study we aim to characterize habitat preferences and analyse the temporal distribution of blue whales around São Miguel Island. To do so, we applied Generalized Additive Models to a seven-year opportunistic cetacean oc...
Poster
Full-text available
The Risso’s dolphin (Grampus griseus) is a frequently sighted species in the Azores. Major studies concerning this species have been conducted in the central group of the archipelago, where social structure, residency and nursery patterns have been investigated for a long term followed population off Pico Island (n=1250). Here, we aim to identify a...
Poster
Full-text available
Cetacean faecal samples have been used to study diet, steroid hormones, exposure to parasites and biotoxins, individual genetic identification and assessment of microplastic ingestion in whales and dolphins. Baleen whale faecal samples are not usually easy to collect. However, as in the Azores whale watching platforms spend long time on the water a...
Article
Full-text available
• Macaronesia, an oceanic area located in the Northeast Atlantic, exhibits a high topographic and oceanographic complexity that enables a rich biodiversity. So far, seven species of baleen whales have been recorded in the area. These are migratory animals that travel long distances between feeding grounds at high latitudes in summer and tropical ar...
Poster
Full-text available
We developed a photo ID program to classify marks in the dorsal fin of Risso’s dolphins and put together a catalogue containing 569 individuals and 1124 photos. We discovered, based on the number of resightings, that in the south coast of São Miguel Island there exists two kinds of pods: transients and residents. Analysing the temporal distribution...
Poster
Full-text available
In the last 10 years in São Miguel Island, Azores, we have sighted 6 different species of baleen whales (Suborder Mysticeti). Regarding fin whales and sei whales, most of the encounters have been recorded during spring (74.3%, 67.7%), but others have been seen in other seasons too (winter: 7.4%, 1.1%; summer: 15.4%, 22.9%; autumn 2.9%, 8.3%). This...
Poster
Full-text available
Little is known about the migration routes and lifestyle of male sperm whales around the North Atlantic. Social structure of sperm whales is characterized by female philopatry; forming stable groups through the year and male dispersal. After dispersal, males live in bachelor groups for a few years, becoming more solitary as they age. Mature males s...
Poster
Full-text available
Every year great baleen whales appear around Azores archipelago. We have analyzed data registered from whale watching platforms off São Miguel since 2008 to 2014. We recorded 7597 sightings of 21 different species, and of those, 643 were baleen whales. Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) has been the third most sighted baleen whale (95 sightings), a...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The archipelago of the Azores is like an oasis in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Surrounded by deep waters, those islands are a “must stop” place for every traveler, including, of course, cetaceans. Around the archipelago more than 24 different species of whales and dolphins can be seen. Some of them are resident such as the common dolphin or th...
Poster
Full-text available
The Common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) is one of the resident species of cetaceans in the Azores. The aim of this study is to look for intra and interannual differences in the temporal and spatial distribution of common dolphins. This is the first step to better understand the distribution of this species according to environmental features. The co...
Poster
Full-text available
The Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis) is one of the seasonal species sighted every year in the Azores. We aim to analyze its distribution using data collected between 2009 and 2011 off the south coast of São Miguel during whale watching tours. The Atlantic spotted dolphin was the fourth most sighted species in this study, making up 12.4...
Poster
Full-text available
Sei whales (Balaenoptera borealis) and fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) are migratory baleen whales that pass the Azores archipelago each year. Like other baleen whales they are sighted mostly frequently during the spring months, but generally with a much higher sighting rate than the other species. We analysed data collected along the south coas...
Poster
Full-text available
Around the archipelago of the Azores it is possible to see more than 24 species of whales and dolphins. These species can be divided into three groups according to the period and frequency of sightings: residents that are sighted throughout the whole year; seasonal species that occur during specific time periods; and occasional species that are sig...
Poster
Full-text available
Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) is an endangered species sighted every year around the Azores. They pass by the archipelago during their spring migration, while travelling to their feeding grounds in the North Atlantic. We have analysed blue whale sighting data registered between 2006 and 2012 off the south coast of São Miguel (Azores) during co...
Poster
Full-text available
Sightings of sperm whales increase in summer due to the increasing number of trips and to the presence of family groups in the area.-75.2% of the sightings were recorded between 700 and 1300 m, according to the distribution of their main prey.-May sightings agree with the preferences of depth and slope finding for the rest of the year, but they wer...
Poster
Full-text available
off the south coast of São Miguel, Azores. Distribution and abundance of cetaceans are directly related with biological, anthropogenic and physical factors. They influence the ecosystem productivity and therefore the distribution of every level of the food chain. For marine mammals, the distribution of their preys is considered to be an important f...
Poster
Full-text available
The Azorean archipelago is characterized by deep coastal waters, hence it is possible to observe deep diving cetaceans close to shore, such as sperm whales, northern bottlenose whales, Sowerby's and other beaked whales. The aim of the present study was to determine the temporal and spatial distribution of Hyperoodon ampullatus of Pico Island, Azore...
Poster
Full-text available
The Northern bottlenose whale (Hyperoodon ampullatus) is a deep-diving species that belongs to the family Ziphiidae. This species can reach up to 9.5 meters in length and is distributed in the North Atlantic ocean, preferring cold waters. Very little is known about this species, except for a well-studied population appearing at the Gully, an underw...

Network

Cited By

Projects

Projects (4)
Project
Collecting long-term wildlife occurrence data is challenging, but opportunistic platforms often provide a cost-effective method to obtain information over long periods and defined areas, and can effectively complement data collected in standardized and/or dedicated surveys. Nevertheless, as it is well known, maintaining and keeping LTER is a challenging process, due to many potential inconveniences such as lack of funding to maintain the initiatives. We want to encourage researchers to share their experience and outputs of LTE programs for cetaceans, especially those based on citizen science. We aim to showcase some of the different initiatives that exist nowadays, and share experiences, challenges and solutions to keep these initiatives alive.
Project
Invitation to submit: We would like to invite authors to submit their works on innovative methods and applications using remote sensing data to study the temporal and/or spatial distribution of marine organisms, including seagrass, phytoplankton, fish, or marine mammals. Potential topics include but are not necessarily limited to: - Integration of marine remote sensing data and species distribution models; - Identification of key environmental factors for distribution of marine species; - Assessments of marine biodiversity and/or habitat conditions; - Development and application of short- or long-term prediction models of marine species; - Mapping of seagrass meadows or coral reefs; - Analysis of time series of species distributions based on historical remote sensing data; - Evaluation of the status of fish stocks.
Project
Short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) are the most sighted species in the Azores archipelago. Yet, little is known about their spatial and temporal distribution, seasonal variation and residency patterns in this region. In order to better understand the common dolphins sighted off São Miguel Island, Azores, a 2-year sightings dataset (2018-2019), collected by opportunistic observations on board whale-watching vessels, has been used to analyse the temporal and spatial distribution, and seasonal variation. As common dolphins occur in large numbers in the study area, and photo-identification can be extremely time consuming in terms of data collection and processing, no public catalogue has been created for the Azores archipelago yet. However, several studies in New Zealand, Australia and Greece have shown that photo-identification of common dolphins, using pigmentation and markings on dorsal fins, is reliable. In this study, a selection of “highly identifiable individuals” (HIIs) has been used to build a catalogue and determine the re-sighting rate of marked common dolphins. HIIs have been defined as dolphins with highly distinctive nicks/notches and/or extensive pigmentation of the left side of the dorsal fin. The research focus on HIIs aims to facilitate the data collection from a platform of opportunity, such as whale-watching vessels, as the time spent with the species is limited. Pictures have been collected between 2018 and 2019.The initial results show the presence of common dolphins year-round, with larger groups in summer months. Several HIIs have been re-sighted in the same season, in different seasons, and different years. These findings may indicate the presence of certain individuals within the same season around São Miguel. Further comparisons between seasons and the two years of the study will allow to determine if some individuals are resident off the coast of São Miguel Island.