Eg2301 Feature in Hakai Magazine

The story of Eg2301 (chronically entangled North Atlantic right whale) is featured in Hakai Magazine this month.  Read on for a glimpse into the life and death of a North Atlantic right whale.  Many thanks to Jenny Holland for her great idea and thorough reporting on this piece.

header-whale-necropsy-1-1200x577Eg2301, a North Atlantic right whale seen here with her calf, was later caught in fishing gear. She died in 2005 due to her injuries and the persistent, energy-sapping drag of the line. Photo by New England Aquarium taken under NOAA permit #775-1600-2

New publication on right whales & fishing gear entanglement, as documented in baleen

My latest article, Characterizing the Duration and Severity of Fishing Gear Entanglement on a North Atlantic Right Whale (Eubalaena glacialis) Using Stable Isotopes, Steroid and Thyroid Hormones in Baleen, has just been published in Frontiers in Marine Science, part of the  Research Topic Integrating Emerging Technologies into Marine Megafauna Conservation Management. 

Old Thom the Sea Wolf

Photo credit: Capeshores Charters

A fisherman spotted an orca whale off Chatham MA yesterday, and he has been identified as Old Thom. This whale has been seen several times by the New England Aquarium Right Whale Research team during summer surveys in the Bay of Fundy (2012, 2014, & 2015). Old Thom has been cataloged by  Atlantic Whales in Newfoundland. It’s amazing to think about all this whale has seen in his life as he cruises around the North Atlantic!

Old Thom – Photo credit: NEAq


Sonic Sea

Sonic Sea is a new documentary that highlights the ways in which industrialized ocean noise affects whales – including their communication, foraging, navigation, and stress. You can see the film on the Discovery Channel or at various screenings around the country.


“Oceans are a sonic symphony. Sound is essential to the survival and prosperity of marine life. But man-made ocean noise is threatening this fragile world. Sonic Sea is about protecting life in our waters from the destructive effects of oceanic noise pollution.”

On July 7th (@ 7PM), there will be an Oceanview Foundation screening of Sonic Sea at the Block Island Library – hosted by [fantastic former MSC student] Mary Cerulli and the Nature Conservancy.  Check out this great write-up about the event (by Mary) in the Block Island Times:


Shoals Marine Lab 2016

Marine Mammal Biology at the Shoals Marine Lab was a fantastic experience this year!!  We had a wonderful group of students from Cornell, Brandeis, Skidmore, UNH, & URI.  Here are some highlights:

Artist Spotlight – Tristin Lowe

Mocha Dick (2009): wool felt, vinyl coated fabric, and internal fan

Mocha Dick is a 52-foot-long recreation of the real-life albino sperm whale that in the nineteenth century terrorized whaling vessels near Mocha Island in the South Pacific. Mocha Dick, was described in appearance ‘he was as white as wool’ in an 1839 magazine article from The Knickerbocker, engaged in battle with numerous whaling expeditions, often sinking smaller boats, and was a source of inspiration for Herman Melville’s epic Moby Dick.”

 Text & images via Tristin Lowe


Heading to Baylor University


I accepted a 1 year position at Baylor University to work with Steve Trumble (physiologist) and Sascha Usenko (environmental chemist) to learn the ropes and contribute to their whale earplug project.  They have developed a method to examine lifetime stress, reproductive, and contaminant exposure histories using the earplug as a model tissue.  Baleen whales accumulate wax in their ear canal (which is closed to the external environment and never gets cleaned out with a Qtip!) and in many species this wax plug forms annual growth layers.  The layers, or lamina, can be sampled to generate chemical profiles that represent the whale’s entire life.  This has major implications for learning about stress levels, especially for species that encounter ship noise, oil and gas exploration or chemical exposure.  The focus of my work will be on an earplug collected from a bowhead whale.  For my part, I’m interested to learn how to measure these new [to me] markers and hope to use these skills in my ongoing work looking at chemical profiles in baleen.

Bowhead+WhaleF1.mediumBowhead whale art via 33rdsquare.

A:  Diagram of whale earplug (d) that sits next to the earbone structure (b) in the skull (a). From Trumble et al. 2013 PNAS.