The second week of IMMB 2015 flew by faster than the first. The students were busy with more seal surveys, another whale watch, a fish lab, a scrimshaw art project, a seal necropsy, a post-necropsy swim call (water temp = 56 degrees!), and a stranding response to the rarely seen Delphinus inflatus. In addition, each student completed an oral presentation for our class symposium, Seal Week – a theme that we modeled after Shark Week – to educate people about the misconceptions about the recovering seal populations of New England.
The first week of Introduction to Marine Mammal Biology 2015 is off to a great start. We have seven students who are giving it their all – it’s a lot of material to cram into two weeks! Highlights include: hikes around Appledore Island, a skulls and skeletons lab where students solved bone puzzles, a whale watch, a Duck Island seal survey, bioacoustics lab, porpoise dissection, and of course – lots of gorgeous sunsets.
Marine plastic debris is a problem of overwhelming concern, from how the massive quantities of material that have accumulated in mid-ocean gyres (areas of ocean circulation that retain particles in slow moving whirls) to the effects of plastic debris on marine animals that accidentally ingest it. MIDWAY – Message From The Gyre is a documentary that focuses on the albatross, which uses Midway Atoll for nesting. Albatross chicks are unwittingly fed plastic by their parents, who are foraging in the Pacific Garbage Patch – a floating mass of plastics and other trash in the tropical Pacific Ocean. The chicks starve to death, despite their stomachs being full [of plastic trash].