Whale and Dolphin Research

2050-woThe Heithaus lab has been working on dolphins in Shark Bay, Western Australia and the coastal Everglades.  During his time with National Geographic, Mike helped other scientists by deploying “Crittercam” on humpback whales, pilot whales, false killer whales, and bowhead whales.  Recently, the lab began a study of deep-diving species in the Caribbean.

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Whales and Dolphins of Guadeloupe

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Rough-toothed dolphins are one of several dolphin species off Guadeloupe that are found in deep offshore waters

In 2014, the lab initiated a study of sperm whales and other cetaceans offshore of the west coast of Guadeloupe in the Carribean.   In collaboration with  SPAW-RAC, and funded by the Total Foundation (France), we are using  animal-borne video cameras developed by Exeye Ltd and biopsy sampling to study the behavior of deep-diving species.   From the biopsy samples, we can measure contaminant loads, conduct genetic s

tudies, and analyze the chemical composition (stable isotopes) of skin and blubber.  Together with the behavioral data from the video cameras we will be able to understand foraging behavior and patterns and potential threats to a variety of species, especially sperm whales.  We also will be developing educational activities including video projects for students.

For a daily log of our 2014 and 2016 expeditions, visit the Lab Blog!  And stayed tuned for two video-based projects for use in K-12 classrooms!

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Mehdi with the new camera and suction cup

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Sperm whales offshore of Guadeloupe

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The sperm whales sometimes come to investigate the boats.

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Deploying the camera on a sperm whale.

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Frame grab from the back of a sperm whale. Check back later for videos!

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Fraser’s dolphins are one of many species of dolphins found in the deep waters offshore of Guadeloupe.

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Spotted dolphins riding the bow wake of the boat.

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Pilot whales are sometimes called the “cheetah of the sea” because they will use their speed to capture prey deep underwater.

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