Use of local ecological knowledge to investigate endangered baleen whale recovery in the Falkland Islands

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By SRC intern, Molly Rickles In this study, Frans and Auge looked at baleen whale population in the Falkland Islands in the post-whaling era. Due to whaling in the early 1900s, whale populations here have decreased dramatically, but recent observations suggest that their numbers are currently increasing. However, there is a lack of population data, making this study critical. Methods The main goal of the research was to understand how well the baleen whale population is doing post-whaling in the Falkland Islands. To do this, the scientists used LEK, or local ecological knowledge. In this method, interviews were conducted with … Continue reading

Decorating behavior begins immediately after metamorphosis in the decorator crab Oregonia gracilis

The decorator crab, Oregonia gracilis (

By Nicolas Lubitz, SRC intern Invertebrates, animals without a backbone, are the oldest form of animals that exist on our planet. The first fossils of invertebrates date back to 665 million years ago, and are sponges. Since then, they have diversified into a spectacular array of organisms, both marine and terrestrial. From insects, to squids and corals, to jellyfish, their forms and shapes seem to know no limits. Some studies suggest that invertebrates make up 97% of all animal life on the face of the earth. For example, coral reefs provide shelter and structures for other organisms, most invertebrates are prey … Continue reading

Sea Bird Telomeres


By Dave Lestino, SRC intern Telomeres are located at the ends of each DNA strand. They can be thought of as the plastic tips of shoelaces, and protect the chromosome from deterioration. Although telomeres can’t measure exact chronological age, they can be used to measure individual quality. Use of telomere length, as a quality marker, is increasing as seen in handful of studies between 2004 and 2015. In most species, it has been observed that telomeres shorten overtime, and length corresponds with survival, life-span and reproductive success. In a study by Young et al. in 2016, telomere lengths were compared … Continue reading

A Scientific History of Oysters in Chesapeake Bay

Measurements of Chesapeake Bay oysters taken by NOAA

By Nicole Suren, SRC intern Oysters are not only a preferred dish of much of the human population, but they are also very important parts of the ecosystems they inhabit. As ecosystem engineers, or organisms that significantly modify their habitat, they do not just participate in the habitat they settle in but improve it by filtering large volumes of water and forming reefs that other organisms can use as shelter. Unfortunately, the estuary systems that they prefer have been in steep decline for some time due to negative effects of human activity, and scientists are currently attempting to quantify how … Continue reading

17 things the SRC accomplished in 2016


It’s been a great year for our team! Here are some of our accomplishments from 2016: 1. We published 15 research papers in scientific journals on a variety of topics 2. Two of our research papers were featured on journal covers, one in Diversity and Distributions that evaluated the effectiveness of marine protected areas for migratory sharks and the other one in Animal Conservation that reviewed shark conservation and management policy tools 3. We brought 1,061 guests from the public out with us on our boats to participate in hands-on shark research. Participants ranged in age from 10 to 70, and originated from 42 U.S. … Continue reading

Age-specific foraging performance and reproduction in tool-using wild bottlenose dolphins

A female bottlenose dolphin with a marine sponge tool in Shark Bay, Western Australia.

By Elana Rusnak, SRC Intern Foraging (searching for food) is a skill that animals use to provide energy for survival, growth, and reproduction. In many animals, these skills are fully developed before reproductive age, maximizing the energy put into reproduction when sexual maturity is reached. However, female bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) in Shark Bay, Western Australia, learn a unique foraging behavior from their mothers during development, yet continue to hone their skills long after reaching sexual maturity (at around 10 years). This complex foraging behavior includes the use of sponges as tools; the dolphin will forage for a sponge and … Continue reading