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, June 27, 2014

Best Day Yet!


Photo Album

Uploaded: Fri Jun 27 02:53:00 2014
by Heidi Pearson

Today was our best day yet in the field. This morning (as usual), I went to the lookout point just down the street from our house to check the weather and water conditions. It was a calm, sunny morning, and looked promising for a good day on the water. However, we had not seen any duskies during our last 2 survey days this week, despite beautiful, calm conditions. The large pod had been very, very far south and so I did not have high hopes of seeing it today. But,as I scanned the water with my binoculars, I found the large pod! They were the closest in that they have been for the past two weeks.

We quickly got the boat ready and left the dock less than 45 minutes later. It took us only about 15 minutes to reach the pod, which contained about 200-300 dolphins. We spent about 3 hours with them, taking photo-id shots and conducting a focal follow observation. The water was very calm and clear, so we also tested out our underwater GoPro. The duskies seemed curious about the strange object hanging off our boat and many came closer to investigate. From the boat, we could even hear their whistles and echolocation clicks as they swam by.

After we collected all the data we needed, we got on our transect line and started to survey the rest of the study area. After 2 hours, we had seen a humpback whale, but no duskies, so we decided to call it a day. But, on our way back to the dock, we were greeted by another dusky group! This was a nursery group of about 30 individuals and they were traveling very quickly. We stayed with this group for an hour to collect our behavioral data and photo-id shots. It was a very interesting group to watch because they were feeding. Most of the time, duskies feed offshore at night on fish and squid that rise to the water's surface during the night. This was the first time I had seen duskies feeding during the day off Kaikoura. During our observations, we saw about 20 additional dolphins join the group to feed.

As the sun was setting, we headed back to the dock. In my book, today ranks up there with one of my best field days ever.

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


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