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:
Blue whales didn’t become the largest animals ever to live on Earth by being dainty eaters and new video captured by scientists at Oregon State University shows just how they pick and choose their meals.
“Modeling studies of blue whales ‘lunge-feeding’ theorize that they will not put energy into feeding on low-reward prey patches,” said Leigh Torres, a principal investigator with the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State, who led the expedition studying the blue whales. “Our footage shows this theory in action.”
The Marine Mammal Institute will be well represented at this year's Sharing the Coast Conference in Waldport, OR. Leigh Torres will be providing the keynote address at 6:30 pm, Friday, March 3, 2017. Dr. Torres will discuss the latest in research into the lives of gray whales and other marine megafauna inhabiting our coastal waters and ways in which citizens can help scientists monitor whale populations. Her presentation is free and open to the public.
On Saturday, March 4, Jim Rice, coordinator of the Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network, will give an overview of the state’s marine mammal populations and explain how citizens can engage in tracking these populations through reporting stranded animals, alive or dead. The theme of the conference is citizen science.
Leigh Torres, an assistant professor at the OSU Marine Mammal Institute, will discuss some of her recent work with gray whales along the Oregon Coast during the 10 a.m. Saturday [12/3/16] meeting of the Oregon Chapter of the American Cetacean Society in Newport, Oregon. The meeting will be at the Newport Public Library. Admission is free.