Course description

Introduction to the biology and conservation of the whales and seals, with a particular focus on species of the Gulf of Maine. Lectures will examine many facets of marine mammal science including: taxonomy and species diversity, morphological and physiological adaptations for life in the sea, foraging ecology and behavior, reproductive cycles, bioacoustics, anthropogenic interactions, and management of threatened species. Land and open-water observations of whale and seal behavior will give students hands-on opportunities to study marine mammals in the field.

Outcome 1: Students can identify and explain morphological and physiological adaptations to life in seawater that are specific to marine mammals.

Outcome 2: Students can discuss the evolutionary history of cetacean and pinniped marine mammals.

Outcome 3: Students can describe the ecology of the Gulf of Maine based on seasonal patterns of productivity and resource availability.

Outcome 4: Students can explain important aspects of the biology and ecology of marine mammals, including foraging habits and reproductive cycles of local species.

Outcome 5: Students can identify the anthropogenic threats faced by marine mammals, including historic exploitation and current sources of mortality from human interactions.

Outcome 6: Students can describe current conservation issues and management efforts for local marine mammal species.


One semester of college-level biology, physiology and/or ecology, or similar.

Summer 2024: