The ocean is huge, patchy, and dynamic. Our research aims to understand how marine megafauna encounter the resources they need within this challenging habitat. The GEMM lab focuses on the ecology, behavior and conservation of marine megafauna including cetaceans, pinnipeds, seabirds, and sharks. Our research typically examines species-habitat relationships to generate an improved understanding of species ecology and distribution patterns. Often, by filling these knowledge gaps about where marine animals can be found and why certain habitats are critical, conservation efforts can be more directed and effective in order to separate, in time and space, threats and marine animals.
Our research is diverse and global. We use advanced and innovative methods to address three broad areas of research:
Marine megafauna range widely throughout the oceans in search of resources and potentially encounter numerous anthropogenic influences. We incorporate five main components into our geospatial research to understand the distribution, ecology, and threats posed to marine megafauna:
A lot of people think what Leigh Torres has done this summer and fall would qualify her for a spot on one of those “World’s Worst Jobs” lists. After all, the Oregon State University marine ecologist follows gray whales from a small inflatable boat in the rugged Pacific Ocean and waits for them to, well, poop. Then she and her colleagues have about 20-30 seconds to swoop in behind the animal with a fine mesh net and scoop up some of the prized material before it drifts to the ocean floor.
The January-February 2016 Field Report on blue whale ecology in the South Taranaki Bight region of New Zealand is now available.
National Geographic Explorer and marine ecologist Leigh Torres made the likely discovery of nursing while on a research cruise in the South Taranaki Bight off the western coast of New Zealand. On February 5, the Oregon State University professor got video that she thinks shows a mother blue whale and her calf nursing beneath the waves.