Marine Mammal Research Unit
PhD Memorial University of Nfld
MSc Memorial University of Nfld
My current research primarily investigates the bioenergetics (energy requirements and expenditures) of marine mammals. Its focus is to understand the root causes of population changes by investigating the interactions between the physiology of individual animals and biotic and abiotic environmental changes. The work directly contributes to the conservation and management of marine resources, particularly those in Arctic region, where environmental change – including climate change and fisheries impacts – is most evident. Many of my studies use marine mammals maintained under human care. This has led to an additional research stream involving taking a scientific approach to measuring and ensuring the welfare of these animals.
I did my undergrad in Marine Biology at the University of Guelph, which we touted as “equidistant from all three of Canada’s oceans”. It was there I was first exposed to marine mammal science, bioenergetics, and ecology. I decided to actually work near an ocean for my MSc, and settled on “The Rock” to study behavioural ecology under Dr. Deane Renouf at Memorial University. My thesis work was studying harbour seal mother/pup pairs on the nearby French Island of Miquelon. For my PhD, I chose to remain at MUN and work at the Seal Research Lab, but switch to a thesis more focused on physiology and energetics. The lab was deeply emeshed in the harp seal/cod controversy, and so I was convinced to switch coasts and work on the equally political Steller sea lion/pollock controversy. In 1998, I established the Marine Mammal Energetics and Nutrition Laboratory, which conducts both “pure” and conservation-directed research with groups of trained marine mammals (primarily Steller sea lions and northern fur seals) under human care at the Vancouver Aquarium and the Open Water Research Station in Port Moody.
Website: Marine Mammal Research Unit