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Where do marine mammals go?  And how do we follow them?

Marine mammals go everywhere!  In the past, scientists studied marine mammal movements by marking animals (using tags, brands, or natural markings) so they can be identified later. This method is useful when it is easy to find individuals, and when there is a lot of effort to see animals (for example: humpback whale or killer whale studies).

How do scientists study marine mammal movements?

Scientists often want to know what animals are doing in areas that are hard to study, they use instruments to collect data on the location and behavior of animals. There are many different kinds of instruments that are used to study marine mammal movements and behavior.

As technology becomes more advanced, the instruments used to study marine mammal behavior are becoming smaller and more powerful. Video cameras have been attached to marine mammals to  see their underwater behavior.  A variety of new instruments are being developed as the need for new kinds of information increases.

Are there results from these instruments that can be viewed on the web?

There are a few.  You can view the movements of Steller sea lions using data collected from satellites here, there is also a movie showing how and why satellites are used to gather the data.  MML has a map and a continuous diving graph illustrating data collected and analyzed by Brent Stewart and Robert DeLong, from a geographic location time-depth recorder attached to an elephant seal.  For video images,  National Geographic has a Quicktime Fur Seal Movie from its CritterCam.  Other cool sites are all over the web including one about satellite tracking of sea turtles. You may also want to visit your favorite web search engine to see what you can find.

Would you like to learn more about marine mammal study?

Go back.


This portion of the MML website is intended for a student audience and their educators.
Information within the education website should not be cited in scientific journals or publications.


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