Marine mammals are at the top of the food chain and therefore control what happens in their ecosystems in a top-down fashion. This means that whatever happens to them will directly and indirectly impact what happens to the rest of the food chain. They also represent a unique link between land and sea because of our shared anatomy, long life-spans, and susceptibility to disease-causing agents found in marine resources we consume, and therefore could serve as sentinel species for ecosystem and human health, so long as we understand how they are impacted. As part of my work, I aspire to increase knowledge, public awareness and engagement to protect these important marine creatures.

Of all marine mammals, cetaceans are the hardest to study because they are 100% aquatic species and spend a lot of their time submerged underwater (unlike for example sea lions or seals, which spend part of their time on land). It is both challenging and expensive to study cetaceans because it requires access to the ocean via boats and ships (when surveys cannot be performed from land, and even then the information gathered is limited), and unless we are diving we have to wait until they surface to breathe so that we can make our observations and conduct our studies. Some species such as the sperm whale can hold their breath for as long as 2 hours! This means that we usually spend more time waiting and moving around to find them again, than we do observing them when they are at the surface. The consequence of this is that we currently have many gaps in data when it comes to cetaceans, which make conservation efforts a challenge.

Yet, because we need all the information that we can get to be able to implement conservation measures (we cannot protect that which we do not understand!), I am a big advocate for increasing awareness of the need for research to help obtain the funding necessary to perform the needed studies (unfortunately, these days not everyone thinks that funding cetacean research is a priority) :-/


Please click the links below to learn more about my research on cetaceans.



Humpback Whale/Ballena Jorobada



Tt_20150526_S859-N-0067Bottlenose Dolphin/Toninas

                 CalCurCEAS 2014




IUCN Red List/Lista Roja




Los mamíferos marinos representan un vínculo único entre la tierra y el mar debido a la similitud entre su anatomía y ciclos de vida con los nuestros, así como la susceptibilidad a los agentes causantes de enfermedades que se encuentran en los recursos marinos que consumimos, y por lo tanto sirven como especie centinela para los ecosistemas y la salud humana. Como parte de mi trabajo, yo aspiro a contribuir a cerrar la brecha entre la ciencia y las políticas ambientales en un esfuerzo por aumentar la conciencia pública y la conservación de éstas importantes criaturas marinas.

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