The Behavioral REsearch And eCosystem Health lab

at the University of Alaska Southeast &

the College of Fisheries & Ocean Sciences, University of Alaska Fairbanks



The overall aim of this lab is to understand the behavior and ecology of marine mammals, and their role in maintaining healthy ecosystems. A wide network of collaborators, undergraduates, and graduate students are involved in projects related to this theme. Click on the links to the right to learn more about current research and students. 

If you are a prospective student, please read through the project descriptions on this website. Also review the admission requirements to the UAF College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences: I do not currently have funding to support additional students. However, highly talented students may be able to obtain their own funding so please contact me if you are interested.




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Friday, December 20, 2013

First week in the field

Happy Summer Solstice! We’ve been in the field in Kaikoura for a week now and it’s been a productive first week. The research team consists of Mridula Srinivasan, whom I went to grad school with and is now working at NOAA in Washington, DC; Annelise Fischer, my undergraduate research assistant from UAS; and our captain, Mike Morrissey, from the New Zealand Department of Conservation.

Last Saturday, we were out with a French film crew that was filming a travel documentary called “Des trains pas comme les autres” (Trains like No Others).  The host of the program travels around different countries by train and meets the locals.  They came to Kaikoura to film the marine wildlife and we took them out on our research boat to show them what we do.  It will be interesting to see the final production, since all of our voices will be dubbed over in French! 

The following few days were spent preparing our tags for deployment, with the help of our colleagues Bree and Mark from University of Alaska Fairbanks. Our goal is to develop a short-term suction-cup tagging method for dusky dolphins so that we can track their movement and feeding patterns. This study is funded by NASA, so we’ll be using satellite photos of the ocean to measure plankton levels, and then determining how that relates to our dolphin feeding and movement patterns.  

No one has attached these types of tags to dusky dolphins before, so we are learning and refining our technique as we go. We are learning lots! The best time to try to tag them is when they are bow-riding close enough to the boat that we can stick our pole out and touch them. Yesterday was our first test run with the tags and while we got close to attaching them to the dolphins a few times, we have not yet been successful. Today also looked very promising, but the swell and winds quickly picked up so we came in early.

Photos to follow in a separate post!



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