Marine Mammal Biology

Course Dates

May 30, 2022 to June 13, 2022

Prerequisites

One semester of college-level biology or equivalent; background in vertebrate biology is recommended, but not required.

Equivalent Note

Cornell students: This course fulfills a CALS graduation requirement.

Course Description

Shoals students enjoying an amazing whale watch (photo by Jan Factor).
Harbor seals at neighboring Duck Island.

Introduction to the biology and conservation of the whales and seals, with a particular focus on species of the Gulf of Maine. Lectures examine topics including taxonomy and species diversity, adaptations for life in the sea, foraging ecology and behavior, reproductive cycles, bioacoustics, and management of threatened species. Land and open-water observations of whale and seal behavior are an integral part of this course. Instructors are permitted to conduct dissections of marine mammals when carcasses are available for autopsy.

Some of the learning outcomes for this course include:

  • Identify and explain the morphological, physiological adaptations specific to the evolution of marine mammals;
  • Understand the seasonal patterns of foraging and reproductive cycles of local marine mammals and their relation to resource availability in the Gulf of Maine;
  • Recognize the anthropogenic threats faced by marine mammals and the challenges to their long-term conservation and management.

 

Internship opportunity: This course is recommended experience for SML's Marine Mammal Internship.

 

"...after attending the Shoals course for Marine Mammals...I was able to learn about something that really interested me, and I am one step closer to my dream of working with and helping marine mammals." - Lindsay Spotts (SML '15, UNH '18)

Faculty

Dr. Nadine Lysiak:

Nadine is an Assistant Professor of Marine Ecology at Suffolk University and a member of the Faculty at the Shoals Marine Lab where she teach courses on ecology, evolution, and marine mammal science. Nadine conducts research on large whale foraging ecology, stress and reproductive physiology, and migration behavior. Her research focuses on retrospective chemical analysis of baleen. Nadine posts periodic updates about her research and field work, as well as marine science related content on her blog, Sea of Diamonds.  You can also find her on LinkedIn and ResearchGate.


In 2013, BioSM 1650 participated in the salvage of a minke whale carcass:

  • Watch a video made by Chad Crowley (SML '13, Cornell '16) for the student's perspective...

Stories and photos the 2013 BioSM 1650 minke whale adventure:

Course Video

Course whale watch from August 2009, just off the Isles of Shoals!

Status

Open

Course Numbers

Cornell: BIOSM 3450 (3 Credits)
UNH: MEFB 535 (4 Credits)