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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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Observing duskies and albatrosses

On Sunday, we finally found the large dusky dolphin pod. They were still to the south of our study region, but the seas were decent so we decided to make the journey. It took us about 45 minutes to reach the group. There were about 300 dolphins in the group. About 25% of the group was made up of mom-calf pairs. This is what we call a "large mixed group". We stayed with the group for about 45 minutes and practiced our focal follow technique. It can be challenging to record behavioral data on a group that size! However, we made some modifications to our data collection technique that will make our data more accurate.

We then headed back to the north and found a lovely nursery group of 2 mom-calf pairs and 3 single adults. They were then joined by another mom-calf pair and single adult. They were resting and often approached the boat. This made data collection very easy! Little calves aren't as coordinated as adults, and they are still learning how to come to the surface efficiently to breathe. They are easily identifiable by their "cork-like" surfacing, where they shoot to the surface of the water to breathe, beak-first (this is shown in the third photo below). As they get older, they learn to surface in a smooth arc. Their nostrils are on top of their heads, after all, so they don't need to stick their head up to catch a breath!

On the way back to the dock we came across a fishing vessel pulling up its net. There were over 100 seabirds around the vessel, including 5 albatross species. Albatrosses are my favorite birds, and most of them are endangered species, so this was an amazing sight!

Dusky dolphin photos taken under Marine Mammal Research Permit from the New Zealand Department of Conservation issued to Heidi Pearson. Do not duplicate.

Photo Album

Uploaded: Tue Jun 17 20:56:54 2014
by Heidi Pearson






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