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, July 01, 2014

Frisky duskies


Photo Album

Uploaded: Tue Jul 1 20:01:34 2014
by Heidi Pearson

We had another good day on the water yesterday, and observed some neat behaviors. The large pod was once again far to the south, but we thought we might find some smaller splinter groups within our study site. We set off on our research boat, "Rangi", but after a couple of hours the seas picked up so we headed back to the harbor. Time for Plan B.

After grabbing a quick lunch back at the field house, Adrian and I sent out on the dolphin tour boat in the afternoon. The pod had traveled even further south, so it took as an hour to reach the pod. We never found the large pod, though, despite an intensive search by the tour boat and an airplane overhead. We did find a nice nursery group, though, with 3 mom-calf pairs. They were a pretty quiet group and mostly resting.

Then, out of nowhere, another small dusky group appeared. There were very active and we quickly realized it was a mating group! Peak breeding season is around November to February, so it was neat to see this behavior at this time of year.

We knew it was a mating group because they were doing lots of leaps. We also saw two dolphins mating right off the bow of the boat. They are not shy! There were 4 dolphins in the group, likely 1 female and 3 males. Dusky dolphins have multiple mating partners, and a female usually does not know for certain who the father of her calf is. In a mating group, a female usually entices males to chase her. During this "mating of the quickest", only the fastest male will catch the female and mate with her. This helps the female to ensure that she mates with the male with the best genes.

As usual, we saw some beautiful albatrosses yesterday. I've included a photo of my favorite, the Buller's albatross.

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