Category Archives: Editors’ Select Series

SMM Editors’ Select Series Webinar, 14 December 2023: Calling rate changes in association with passing ships in Milne Inlet, Nunavut, Canada, with Crystal Radtke

You are invited to the next edition of the SMM Editors’ Select Webinar Series. This series highlights the latest and most exciting marine mammal science published in the Marine Mammal Science Journal. The SMM created this series to give scientists and citizens around the world a chance to engage with marine mammal scientists, learn, and ask questions. All are welcome!

Join us on Thursday December 14th 2023 at 5 pm AST / 9 pm GMT
for the next SMM Editors’ Select Series Webinar:
Narwhal calling rate changes in association with passing ships in Milne Inlet, Nunavut, Canada
with Crystal Radtke

This event is free to attend and presented online via Zoom, but registration is required.
Register here: 
ZOOM REGISTRATION
Space on Zoom is limited to the first 500 attendees. The talk will also be streamed on the SMM Facebook page.

About this talk:
Concerns were raised about possible behavioural disturbance to narwhals (Monodon monoceros) when exposed to shipping noise in Milne Inlet, Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada. It is known that marine mammals often change their behaviours especially their vocalizations, around ships.  With the use of underwater recordings operating continuously over two months (in 2018 and 2019), narwhal vocalizations in Milne Inlet were analyzed. Narwhals produce three social call types, whistles, buzzes and knocks. The calling rates of each call type were determined when no ships were present and during ship transits in a before-during-after analysis. Narwhal call counts were generally lower when bulk carriers were within line-of-sight (5 km), including when ship noise levels were barely above background noise levels. Call counts varied both “before” and “after” individual bulk carriers passed by the recorders. There was no evidence of habituation or sensitization to the bulk carrier noise within or between years. Continued monitoring in this area is recommended, especially if shipping levels increase.

About the presenter:
Crystal studied at the University of New Brunswick, in Saint John, NB, Canada for undergraduate and graduate studies. Her honours project was on the underwater soundscape of Mawson Station, Antarctica and the impacts this could have on the masking of Weddell seal calls.  Her masters thesis was on the classification of narwhal calls and the changes in calling rates in association with passing ships. She has also volunteered with various organizations (Bimini Biological Field Station, Dolphin Communication Project and Operation Wallacea) for marine mammal, fish and marine invertebrate studies.

Open access to this article is made temporarily available in the weeks around the presentation and can be found here. Current SMM members have access to all Marine Mammal Science papers.

SMM Editors’ Select Series Webinar, 19 October 2023. Genetically separate populations of dugongs in Australia, with Dr. Janet Lanyon


You are invited to the next edition of the SMM Editors’ Select Webinar Series. This series highlights the latest and most exciting marine mammal science published in the Marine Mammal Science Journal. The SMM created this series to give scientists and citizens around the world a chance to engage with marine mammal scientists, learn, and ask questions. All are welcome!

Join us on Thursday, 19 October 2023 at 5pm EDT / 10pm GMT / 7am +1 AEST
for the next SMM Editors’ Select Series Webinar:
Genetically separate populations of dugongs in Australia:
implications for coping with local environmental stressors
with Dr. 
Janet Lanyon

This event was recorded live and put on youtube: youtu.be/PpUeaEFK5eY 
For future events, please check our news room or join the SMM Facebook page.

About this talk:
Despite the lack of obvious physical barriers and their ability to travel significant distances, many marine mammals exhibit substantial population structuring over relatively short geographical distances. The dugong (Dugong dugon) is a vulnerable marine mammal found in inshore seagrass habitats throughout the Indo-Pacific, including in the waters of northern Australia. We investigated the genetic population structure of dugongs in the shallow coastal waters along >2000 km of the eastern Queensland coast including the Great Barrier Reef region. Microsatellite genotypes for 22 loci in 293 dugongs, SNP genotypes based on 10,690 loci in 43 dugongs, and 410 bp mitochondrial control-region sequences from 639 dugongs were analysed. Clustering analysis techniques consistently identified an abrupt genetic break in the Whitsunday Islands region of central Queensland (20.3°S), which interrupts an overall pattern of isolation-by-distance. Geographic distance was relatively more important than sea-surface temperature and seagrass distribution in explaining pairwise microsatellite genetic distances. The cause of reduced dispersal across this region is unknown but might relate to an unusual tidal and current mix, termed the ‘sticky-water’ effect, and/or a break in the geographical distribution of offshore seagrass meadows. This genetic structuring suggests distinct breeding units north and south of the Whitsunday Islands region, and also mostly separate populations with limited gene flow within each of the north and south ranges. Recently, profiles of faecal microbiota from dugongs from all along the Queensland coast show marked variation, supporting these separate populations and possibly indicating ecological differences, e.g., feeding niches. Implications of these separate genetic populations in terms of how dugongs might respond to local threats to habitat and how these findings should be considered when developing management plans for Queensland dugongs will be discussed.

About the presenter:
Janet Lanyon is a zoologist, specializing in marine mammal biology. For thirty years, Janet has been a full-time academic at The University of Queensland (UQ) and Director of the UQ Marine Vertebrate Research Group. Since 1995, she has been Lead Investigator in a long-term population and health study of the dugongs of southern Queensland, Australia. She has published widely on diverse aspects of the biology of marine wildlife, and is an Associate Editor of the journal Marine Mammal Science. Her research expertise includes the ecology, physiology and conservation biology of marine megafaunal wildlife, principally dugongs, coastal dolphins and sea turtles.

Open access to this article is made temporarily available in the weeks around the presentation and can be found here. Current SMM members have access to all Marine Mammal Science papers.

Missed a presentation or want to share this series with a friend? All previous Editors’ Select presentations are recorded and archived on our YouTube channel here.

SMM Editors’ Select Series Webinar, 21 September 2023! Using drones to investigate the timing of harbour seal pupping, with Dr. Anders Galatius

You are invited to the next edition of the SMM Editor’s Select Webinar Series. This series highlights the latest and most exciting marine mammal science published in the Marine Mammal Science Journal. The SMM created this series to give scientists and citizens around the world a chance to engage with marine mammal scientists, learn, and ask questions. All are welcome!

Join us on Thursday, 21 September 2023 at 1 pm EDT / 6 pm GMT / 7 pm CET
for the next SMM Editors’ Select Series Webinar:

Using drones to investigate the timing of harbour seal pupping, with Dr. Anders Galatius

This event was recorded live and put on youtube: https://youtu.be/3zEoPu8d4ks 
For future events, please check our news room or join the SMM Facebook page.

About this talk:
Harbour seal females give birth to their single pup during a distinct pupping season, which occurs during the summer in most areas. To obtain unbiased estimates of the pup production of harbour seals, surveys of seal colonies need to be timed optimally and conducted under sufficiently similar conditions. In the Limfjord, the resident harbour seal population have about 95% of their pups at two haul-outs, Ejerslev Røn and Blinderøn just 3 km apart. The short distance makes this area ideal for investigation with drones. We counted harbour seal pups at these two haul-outs throughout the pupping season in June for three consecutive years, 2017-2019. As harbour seal pups can swim almost from birth, there was considerable variation in the counts. Some of this variation could be related to date; as the season progressed, increasing numbers of pups were hauled out, before the counts began to drop, with an estimated peak in counts on June 22nd. Weather also impacted the counts, on windy days, fewer pups were counted. These findings will be used in the planning and interpretation of harbour seal pup surveys in Denmark.

About the presenter:
Anders Galatius is a senior researcher at Aarhus University’s Department of Ecoscience where he works on marine mammal morphology, ecology and behaviour. He graduated as MSc from University of Copenhagen, Denmark in 2003 and obtained his PhD from the same university in 2009. He has been working at Aarhus University since 2010, leading the Danish seal monitoring programmes of harbour seals and grey seals since 2013.

Open access to this article is made temporarily available in the weeks around the presentation and can be found here. Current SMM members have access to all Marine Mammal Science papers.

Missed a presentation or want to share this series with a friend? All previous Editors’ Select presentations are recorded and archived on our YouTube channel here.

SMM Seminar Editors’ Select Webinar, 17 August 2023! How to weigh a sperm whale using drone images? with Maria Glarou

You are invited to the next edition of the SMM Seminar Editor’s Select Series Webinar. This series highlights the latest and most exciting marine mammal science published in the Marine Mammal Science Journal. The SMM created this series to give scientists and citizens around the world a chance to engage with marine mammal scientists, learn, and ask questions. All are welcome!

Join us on Thursday, 17 August 2023 at 7 am PDT / 10 am EDT / 2 pm GMT
for the next SMM Seminar Editors’ Select Series Webinar:

How to weigh a sperm whale using drone images? with Maria Glarou

This event was recorded live and published on youtube: https://youtu.be/bJO0RQK0EJs
For future events, please check our news room or join the SMM Facebook page.

About this talk:
Body mass is a fundamental characteristic of animals. Although sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) are the largest toothed predators on earth, body mass is seldom included in studies of their ecology and physiology due to the inherent difficulties of obtaining direct measurements. We used drone images to estimate the weight of free-ranging sperm whales. We collected aerial images of 102 sperm whales (of all reproductive classes) in the Eastern Caribbean and Mediterranean Sea during 2017–2020. First, we obtained body length, width, and height (at 5% increments) measurements from dorsal and lateral drone images. Based on these measurements, we then created an elliptical 3D body shape model to calculate the body volume of the animals. We used 4 different approaches to convert volume to mass: tissue-density estimates from catch data, animal-borne tags, and body-tissue composition. Our results showed that the average total body density ranged from 834 to 1,003 kg/m3, while the weight predictions matched with existing measurements and weight-length relationships described in previous research. Our body-mass models can be used to study sperm whale bioenergetics, including inter- and intra-seasonal variations in body condition, somatic growth, metabolic rates, and cost of reproduction.

About the presenter:
Maria Glarou is originally from Greece. She holds a BSc degree in Biology from the University of Patras (Greece), and is a MSc graduate from Stockholm University (Sweden) with a degree in Marine Biology. Her main research interests revolve around cetacean bioenergetics, ecology and ecophysiology, as well as the impacts of human disturbance on cetaceans. For her MSc project, she conducted a pilot study in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, exploring small-scale fisheries interactions with small marine mammals. She is currently a PhD fellow at the University of Iceland’s Research Center in Húsavík, where she studies the allometry of physiological and behavioural thermoregulatory adaptations of different-sized cetaceans in Skjálfandi Bay, NE-Iceland.

Open access to this article is made temporarily available in the weeks around the presentation and can be found here. Current SMM members have access to all Marine Mammal Science papers.

Missed a presentation or want to share this series with a friend? All previous Editors’ Select presentations are recorded and archived on our YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLUc78IynQlubS2DVS1VZoplf_t42-yZOO

SMM Seminar Editors’ Select Series, July 20th 2023! Assimilation takes time: integration of two dolphin societies, with Dr. Cindy Elliser

This series highlights the latest and most exciting marine mammal science published in the Marine Mammal Science Journal. The SMM created this series to give scientists and citizens around the world a chance to engage with marine mammal scientists, learn, and ask questions. All are welcome!

Join us on Thursday, 20 July 2023 at 3pm PDT / 6pm EDT / 10pm GMT
for the next SMM Seminar Editors’ Select Series
Assimilation takes time: integration of two dolphin societies
with Dr. Cindy Elliser

This event is free to attend and presented online via Zoom, but registration is required.
Register here: https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_CevPOor4Q8-BOom0BHG_bA

Space on Zoom is limited to the first 500 attendees. The talk will also be streamed live on the SMM Facebook page.

About this talk:
In the Bahamas live two communities of spotted dolphins separated by deep water: one on Little Bahama Bank (LBB) off of Grand Bahama Island and one on Great Bahama Bank (GBB) off of Bimini. In 2013 an unprecedented 50% of the LBB spotted dolphins moved across the deep water and took up residence on GBB. This type of large-scale immigration is rare. How does such a large group of dolphins move into an established community? This is the story of how these two communities have reacted, how they have integrated and how this is shaping the social structure of this new community.

About the presenter:
Dr. Cindy R. Elliser is the Research Director and Founder of Pacific Mammal Research (PacMam) and Associate Director of the Salish Sea Institute at Western Washington University. She received her B.S. (2000) and M.S. (2003) in Biological Sciences from Florida Atlantic University (FAU) and received her Ph.D. in Integrative Biology from FAU in 2010. Her work focuses on photo-identification, behavioral ecology and social structure of marine mammals. For 10 years she worked with Dr. Denise Herzing and the Wild Dolphin Project studying Atlantic spotted and bottlenose dolphins in the Bahamas. In 2014 Dr. Elliser moved to the Pacific Northwest and founded PacMam to study marine mammals in the Salish Sea, particularly harbor porpoises and harbor seals. Dr. Elliser also teaches biology and related courses as an associate professor at Skagit Valley College and Western Washington University.

Open access to this article is made temporarily available in the weeks around the presentation and can be found here. Current SMM members have access to all Marine Mammal Science papers.

Missed a presentation or want to share this series with a friend? All previous Editors’ Select presentations are recorded and archived on our YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLUc78IynQlubS2DVS1VZoplf_t42-yZOO

SMM Seminar Editors’ Select Series: Are dolphins more affected by commercial fisheries than artisanal fisheries? with Tim Awbery

This series highlights the latest and most exciting marine mammal science published in the Marine Mammal Science Journal. The SMM created this series to give scientists and citizens around the world a chance to engage with marine mammal scientists, learn and ask questions. All are welcome.Join us on Thursday, 16 February 2023 at 4 pm GMT / 8 am PST / 11 am EST
for the next SMM Seminar Editors’ Select Series:
Are dolphins more affected by commercial fisheries than artisanal fisheries?: A case study from Montenegro
with Tim Awbery

This event is free to attend and presented online via Zoom, but registration is required.
Register here:
https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_wIJwObUlS4WwS7lv5g2utA
Space on Zoom is limited to the first 500 attendees. The talk will also be streamed live on the SMM Facebook page.

About this talk:
Since bottlenose dolphins often inhabit coastal waters and have a diet consisting mainly of fish, it is unsurprising that they often overlap with fisheries. While a number of previous studies have demonstrated that the presence of boats (particularly those associated with whale-watching) affect marine mammal behaviours, to our knowledge nobody has addressed whether different types of fishing vessels alter marine mammal behaviour. In this study, a combination of land-based and boat-based surveys were used to look at four different bottlenose dolphin behaviours, including diving, socialising, surface-feeding, and travelling. Dolphins were observed in both the presence of large commercial vessels and smaller artisanal fisheries, as well as in the absence of any marine vessel traffic. Both commercial fishing vessels and artisanal vessels were found to affect the behaviour of dolphins, but in different ways. Commercial fishing boats significantly altered the proportion of time that bottlenose dolphins spent performing three out of four of the recorded behaviours. While artisanal fishing boats only affected the proportion of time spent performing one behaviour, this behaviour was surface-feeding, important to dolphins for obvious reasons. If dolphin behaviours are interrupted for a long period, it is likely to have consequences on the health of the dolphin population. This work, alongside previous studies, demonstrates that vessel type is an important factor in how a dolphin might be disturbed and therefore must be taken into account when considering management strategies.

About the presenter:
Tim Awbery is a researcher in the Marine Mammal Research Team at the Scottish Association for Marine Science, currently investigating minke whales on the west coast of Scotland. Previously, Tim worked in the Mediterranean for DMAD – Marine Mammals Research Association, a non-government organization based in Turkey. While his work took him throughout the north-east Mediterranean, he was predominantly based in Montenegro, Turkey, and Albania, working on several marine mammal research projects. Tim has been involved in the publication of a range of studies providing some of the first data from overlooked regions in these countries. His research has two primary focuses: building a baseline of marine mammal data in understudied areas and using these data to understand where marine mammals and human threats overlap and how these threats affect marine mammals. He intends his work to inform conservation by providing concrete information, rather than leaving managers to rely on anecdotal evidence when making decisions.

Open access to all Marine Mammal Science papers is available to current SMM members. Open access to this article is made temporarily available to the public in the weeks around the presentation and can be found here.

Missed a presentation or want to share this series with a friend? All previous Editors’ Select  presentations are recorded and archived on our YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLUc78IynQlubS2DVS1VZoplf_t42-yZOO

SMM Seminar Editors’ Select Series: Investigating how humpback whales work together while bubble-net feeding, with Ms. Natalie Mastick

This series highlights the latest and most exciting marine mammal science published in the Marine Mammal Science Journal. The SMM created this series to give scientists and citizens around the world a chance to engage with marine mammal scientists, learn and ask questions. All are welcome.

Join us on Thursday, 19 January 2023 at 3 PM PST / 6 PM EST / 11 PM GMT
for the next SMM Seminar Editors’ Select Series:
Investigating how humpback whales work together while bubble-net feeding
with Ms. Natalie Mastick

This event is free to attend and presented online via Zoom, but registration is required.
Register here:
https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_kNoCxVnBTFmrXO0uO_nBAg
Space on Zoom is limited to the first 500 attendees. The talk will also be streamed live on the SMM Facebook page.

About this talk:
In this study, Natalie and her co-authors tagged 26 bubble-net feeding whales and assessed differences in dive patterns between groups of various sizes. They found that whales participating in bubble-net dives adopted one of six dive strategies. More complicated dives were usually used in small groups. One dive type, the upward spiral, was malleable (it could have different numbers of rotations,) and was used across all group sizes. The authors also looked at whether the dive strategies changed based on the number of whales in the group. There were no differences in the strategies based on group size except when whales used an upward spiral strategy. The upward spiral technique changed based on how many whales were feeding together, suggesting that whales needed to maneuver less, and potentially work less, to effectively herd the prey to the surface. This finding shows that working together may benefit the whales by decreasing the amount of energy they expend to feed.

About the presenter:
Natalie is a marine ecologist with a research focus on marine mammal behavior, foraging ecology, and parasite ecology. She is a PhD Candidate in the Wood Lab in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington, and a Graduate Research Fellow with Oceans Initiative. For her PhD, she is studying the change in risk of parasite infections in marine mammals. Natalie is also a founding member and Research Associate with Sound Science Research Collective, where she researches humpback whale behavior in Southeast Alaska. Natalie received her B.S. in Marine Biology and B.A. in Environmental Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and her M.Sc. in Wildlife Science at Oregon State University.

Open access to all Marine Mammal Science papers is available to current SMM members. Open access to this article is made temporarily available to the public in the weeks around the presentation and can be found here.

Missed a presentation or want to share this series with a friend? All previous Editors’ Select  presentations are recorded and archived on our YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLUc78IynQlubS2DVS1VZoplf_t42-yZOO

SMM Seminar Editors’ Select Series: What tiny molecules can tell us about the giants of the sea, with Dr. Valentina Melica

This series highlights the latest and most exciting marine mammal science published in the Marine Mammal Science Journal. The SMM created this series to give scientists and citizens around the world a chance to engage with marine mammal scientists, learn and ask questions. All are welcome.

Join us on Thursday, 15 December 2022 at 4 PM PST / 7 PM EST (Friday, 16 December at 12 am GMT)
for the next SMM Seminar Editors’ Select Series
Hormones and whales: what tiny molecules can tell us about the giants of the sea
with Dr. Valentina Melica

This event is free to attend and presented online via Zoom, but registration is required.
Register here:
https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_bZI5tOxLSNy_s8xXOt1TUQ
Space on Zoom is limited to the first 500 attendees. The talk will also be streamed live on the SMM Facebook page.

About this talk:
Hormones are tiny molecules that regulate critical functions in the bodies of mammals, including the important job of maintaining an animal’s energy levels when facing challenging situations. We researched how the hormones cortisol and corticosterone, which are associated with regulating stress response and metabolism, were impacted by different aspects of the lives of blue and gray whales, including age, sex, reproductive status, season, and geographic location. We found that pregnant blue whales and nursing gray whales experienced higher energy demands and elevated hormone levels. This information is essential for understanding how whales cope with stressors caused by human activities.

About the presenter:
Dr. Valentina Melica is a research biologist specializing in endocrine analysis. She grew up in Italy, where she worked as an aquarist and snorkel guide in northeast Italy and earned a master’s degree from the University of Trieste, with a research project on moon jellyfish. She completed her PhD at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where her research focused on reproductive and stress-related endocrinology in the eastern North Pacific populations of blue and gray whales. She now lives in North Vancouver, Canada, where she is research scientist with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, in the Marine Mammal Conservation Physiology program. In that position, she is studying biomarkers in killer whales and humpback whales.

Open access to all Marine Mammal Science papers is available to current SMM members. Open access to this article is made temporarily available to the public in the weeks around the presentation and can be found here.

Missed a presentation or want to share this series with a friend? All previous Editors’ Select  presentations are recorded and archived on our YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLUc78IynQlubS2DVS1VZoplf_t42-yZOO

SMM Seminar Editors’ Select Series: Time and behavioral adjustments to lactation in Antarctic fur seals with Dr. Renato Borras-Chavez

This series highlights the latest and most exciting marine mammal science published in the Marine Mammal Science Journal. The SMM created this series to give scientists and citizens around the world a chance to engage with marine mammal scientists, learn, and ask questions. All are welcome!

Join us on Thursday, 17 November 2022 at 6 PM GMT (10 AM PST / 1 PM EST)
for the next SMM Seminar Editors’ Select Series
Life in the fast lane: differences in behavior between lactating and non-lactating Antarctic fur seals at high latitudes
with Dr. Renato Borras-Chavez

This event is free to attend and presented online via Zoom, but registration is required.
Register here:
https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_VJY7H6WBQA-aa4fNaV6Nvw
Space on Zoom is limited to the first 500 attendees. The talk will also be streamed live on the SMM Facebook page.

About the talk:
Mammals spend more energy when lactating (i.e., feeding their young) than at any other time in their lives. Antarctic fur seal mothers perform trips to sea to find food and then return to feed their pups, repeating this cycle for four consecutive months. By comparing at-sea behavior between lactating and non-lactating females carrying microprocessor instruments, we better understand the challenges of being a mother: they take shorter trips to get food (to return to their pups as quickly as possible), spend less time ashore (to start the cycle again as soon as possible), and modify their diving behavior to collect more food. Now that is a GREAT mom!

About the presenter:
Dr. Renato Borras-Chavez is a scientist from Chile. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology at Andres Bello University, Chile, and his master’s degree at San Diego State University, USA, working in kelp forest ecology. He started working with marine mammals while pursuing his Ph.D. at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. Since his first trip to Antarctica 10 years ago, he has been there seven times, including three long deployments for the project he is presenting here. After completing his Ph.D., he worked for three years with the Chilean Antarctic Institute (INACH), continuing his work on Antarctic pinnipeds. Today, he is a research associate at the Center of Applied Ecology and Sustainability (CAPES) and preparing to start a postdoctoral research project on leopard seal ecology at Baylor University. He was also the president and national representative of APECS Chile (the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists) until this year.

Open access to this article is made temporarily available in the weeks around the presentation and can be found here. Current SMM members have access to all Marine Mammal Science papers.

Missed a presentation or want to share this series with a friend? All previous Editors’ Select presentations are recorded and archived on our YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLUc78IynQlubS2DVS1VZoplf_t42-yZOO

SMM Seminar Editors’ Select Series: Behavior related vocalizations of the Florida manatee with Dr. Beth Brady

This series highlights the latest and most exciting marine mammal science published in the Marine Mammal Science Journal. The SMM created this series to give scientists and citizens around the world a chance to engage with marine mammal scientists, learn and ask questions. All are welcome!

Thursday, October 20th 2022 at 1 pm EDT (10 am PDT / 5 pm GMT) 
SMM Seminar Editors’ Select Series: Behavior related vocalizations of the Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris)
with Dr. Beth Brady

This event is free to attend and presented online via Zoom, but registration is required.
Register here:
 https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_WnhO3mH4R8q3Y_euN-VTmQ
Space on Zoom is limited to the first 500 attendees. The talk will also be streamed live on the SMM Facebook page.

About this talk:
Florida manatees produce a variety of vocalizations, but their function is unclear. The goal of this study was to investigate if manatee vocalizations could be correlated with behavior. Multiple underwater microphones were used to record manatee vocalizations in four different environments and behaviors. Vocalizations recorded from resting, playing, stressed and feeding wild animals were statistically tested to determine whether vocalizations varied with behavior and calf presence. The length, amount of noise, and changes in pitch (frequency modulation) from vocalizations were also measured to investigate if they differed between behaviors. Results suggest manatees use few call types to vocalize and vary the structure of the call based on behavior. One call type was correlated with calf presence, and noisier calls were more frequently observed during play. The most common call manatees produced are called “squeaks”. Squeaks were longer in length and higher in frequency modulation when animals were stressed. This research provides a foundation for comparative studies on vocal behavior for the Florida manatee as well as studies on related species.

About the presenter:
Beth was born and raised in rural Pennsylvania and first found her interest in marine life on a family vacation.  She initially became a registered nurse, but after a few years of nursing realized her true passion was marine biology. She returned to school and got her undergraduate degree at Kutztown University, Pennsylvania. After graduation, she volunteered with multiple marine mammal and wildlife organizations and found her love of manatees through an extended internship at Florida Fish and Wildlife (FWC). After the internship, she completed her Master’s at Nova Southeastern University where she first became involved in studying underwater sound (acoustics) and manatee vocalizations. She completed her doctorate at Florida Atlantic University in 2020. She is currently a post doctoral research fellow at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, FL.
Dr. Brady’s primary research investigates vocal communication in manatee species. In addition, she is studying manatee behavior and ecotourism impacts, and recently started flying drones to assess Florida manatee body condition.

Open access to this article is made temporarily available in the weeks around the presentation and can be found here. Current SMM members have access to all other Marine Mammal Science papers.

Missed a presentation or want to share this series with a friend? All previous Editors’ Select  presentations are recorded and archived on our YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLUc78IynQlubS2DVS1VZoplf_t42-yZOO