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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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Happy Winter Solstice!


  Winter Solstice
Photo Album

Uploaded: Sat Jun 21 01:39:23 2014
by Heidi Pearson


The first day of winter in New Zealand started with a beautiful, glowing, red sunrise. We chose to ignore the old saying, "Red sky at morning, sailors take warning; red sky at night, sailors' delight!" Although the weather was not great for taking out our small boat today, we still got out on the water.

We went out with the local dolphin tour company, Dolphin Encounter. This company has been very cooperative and helpful to dusky dolphin researchers over the years, and they are extending the same hospitality to us. The dolphins were still very far to the south, but in the larger tour boat we knew we would get there quickly and safely. Adrian and I were able to conduct our observations from the top deck of the boat, which gave us a unique vantage point that we can't get from our small boat. We collected some good photographs for photo-identification, and videos for analyzing mom-calf behaviors. Photo-identification is a method where we take photos of dolphins' dorsal fins and then identify individuals based on unique and distinctive markings.  This is like dolphin finger-printing. In one photo (posted in this entry's album), I captured the belly side of an animal and her distinctive fin.  This is really helpful for the research because we now know the sex of this animal! Otherwise, it is very difficult to determine the sex of dusky dolphins because males and females look almost identical.

The main drawback to using the dolphin tour boat is that we can't control when or where the boat travels in relation to the dolphins.  However, we are developing some strategies to overcome this in our data analysis. Swimmers also enter the water during the tours to swim with the duskies. It is always interesting to watch the behaviors of the people and duskies! Some dolphins will ignore the swimmers while others will approach them, being curious and playful.

Today we also saw two species today that we haven't seen yet this season: common dolphins, and the southern royal albatross!

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


#1 Posted on Saturday, June 21, 2014 at 07:48 AM

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