In the MMBEL lab, we study a variety of mammalian species all over the world. Click on the species below to learn more about the subjects we listen to and study every day!

Balaena mysticetus range mostly in the Arctic and partially subarctic areas, and are named after their unique ability to break through sheets of ice using their large heads. Even though bowhead populations are currently stable, in the early twentieth century they were facing extinction due to the lack of regulation in whaling for oil and baleen. The Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort Bowheads are also seen as fundamental members of Inupiat culture: subsistence hunting of the whale has continued to support this community for over 4,000 years, and the lab works alongside the Inupiat in our research to facilitate the best science possible. Click Here to listen to the Bowhead.

Bowhead Whale | NOAA FisheriesNOAA Fisheries

Balaenoptera physalus range globally, and depending upon subspecies, from the Southern Ocean to the North Atlantic and North Pacific. They are named after the dorsal fin that can be spotted when surfacing to breathe. Fin whales are the second largest whales, and they can consume up to 2 tons of food on a daily basis, preying mainly on krill, smaller fish, and squids. Click here to listen to a Fin Whale:

Fin Whale | NOAA FisheriesNOAA Fisheries

Balaenoptera musculus are present in all oceans except the Arctic. There are currently 5 recognized subspecies of blue whale, ranging in size depending on the region in which they subside. They are the largest animal on Earth, measuring up to 110 ft and weighing up to 330,000 pounds (165 tons). Click here to listen to the Blue Whale:

Blue Whale | NOAA FisheriesImage by NOAA Fisheries


Megaptera novaeangliae are named after the distinctive hump on its back, and they can be found in most oceans of the world, excluding the far polar regions of the Arctic. They are incredible migrators, traveling up to 5,000 miles annually from their feedings grounds of higher latitudes to their mating and calving grounds in warmer, tropical waters. Although humpback numbers are growing today, by the end of commercial whaling in 1985, all humpback populations had reduced by more than 95%. Humpbacks are quite vocal, and all of us here in the lab easily recognize a humpback when we hear one. Click here to listen to the humpback:

Blue Whale | NOAA FisheriesImage by NOAA Fisheries


Eschrichtius robustus is limited only to the region of the North Pacific, even though they used to be found throughout the Northern hemisphere. They have been known to migrate up to 14,000 miles in one year, and for this reason might have some of the longest annual migrations of any mammal. Similar to other whales, the North Pacific gray whale feeds in higher latitudes in the summer and travels towards the equator in the winter. To listen to a gray whale, click here:

Gray Whale | NOAA FisheriesImage by NOAA Fisheries

Odobenus rosmarus is a pinniped, or a marine mammal that is fin or flipper-footed, also existing in the same group are seals and sea lions. They are an Arctic and subarctic organism, and we typically encounter them in the Bering or Chukchi Seas. They can be easily identified on a visual basis by their large, white tusks and charismatic whiskers that they use to find food. Walruses can weigh up to two tons and grow to be up to 12 feet long. Click here to listen to a walrus.

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Orcinus orca is universally regarded as one of the ocean’s apex predators. And even though they are referred to as whales, they are actually the largest member of the Delphinidae family, or dolphin, family. Orcas are advanced predators that hunt as a group, and their diet ranges from squid to salmon to other marine mammals, such as seals. Killer whales reside in all oceans and a variety of coastal vs open-water ecosystems, each group varying slightly in behavior depending on their location. Although Orcas are found across the globe, they still face threats from anthropogenic sources such as net entanglement and oil spills. Click here to listen to a killer whale.

Drawing of a killer whale in profile

NOAA Fisheries


Erignathus nauticus is named the bearded seal due to it's unique set of lengthy whiskers that are used to sense food on the ocean floor. This is an arctic species of seal, and they typically reside on patches of broken, floating pieces of ice to have the ideal access to water for foraging while also containing gaps in ice to surface for breathing. They weigh around 600-800 pounds and measure 7-8 feet long, with a significant level of blubber in order to stay warm in the arctic temperatures. These seals are extremely vocal, and are the most common creature that we hear year-round. Click here to listen to a bearded seal.

bearded seal illustration

NOAA Fisheries