Marine Mammal Science

Marine Mammal Science is a podcast covering some of the latest scientific research on marine mammals – whales and dolphins, polar bears, seals and sea lions, manatees and dugongs, and sea otters. The podcast is produced by Speak Up For Blue Media on behalf of the Society for Marine Mammalogy and the journal Marine Mammal Science. The hosts are Dr. Ashley Scarlett and Dr. Chris Parsons.


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Recent Episodes

June 13th, 2021

MMS 91: Peru, humpback whales and art

In this week’s episode master student Anna Costanza comes on the show to talk to Dr. Ashley Scarlett about her study on the bycatch of humpback whales in Peru, and how art is an incredible way to tell stakeholders’ stories.


As an Illinoian born and bred, her younger self would pretend Lake Michigan was an ocean. After earning a B.S. in Environmental Science from Goshen College, IN, she moved from Midwest to the west coast and immediately dove deep into GIS courses and internships. If you ask her what my passion is – it’s science, but her love is art. GIS is the perfect intersection of the two.   She is currently a graduate student at San Francisco State University working towards an MS in Interdisciplinary Marine and Estuarine Science.


For her thesis, she is collaborating with Pro Delphinus, a Peruvian non-profit, to study humpback whale and leatherback turtle bycatch within Peruvian small-scale fisheries. They leveraged fishermen’s knowledge and expert opinion as input data into an open-source bycatch risk assessment model to identify seasonal high bycatch risk areas among data-poor fisheries.

June 05th, 2021

MMS 90: Humpback Whales’ Scars Run Deep

In this week’s episode, Allison Payne will be talking to Dr. Ashley Scarlett about her Masters’ thesis project on entanglement scars on humpback whales.

More on Allison Payne:

Allison Payne is a Master’s student at San Francisco State University’s Estuary and Ocean Science Center and part of the Cetacean Field Research Team at the Marine Mammal Center, as well as a science communicator and naturalist. Her thesis work focuses on the accumulation of entanglement scars on humpback whales off the coast of central California using   Research Collective’s North Pacific Humpback Whale Catalog.

May 29th, 2021

MMS 89: Humpback whales return to San Francisco Bay – but face a threat from shipsHumpback whales return to San Francisco Bay but face a threat from ships

Humpbacks started coming back to San Francisco Bay in 2016 and now scientists are concerned about the risk of ship strikes. Dr. Ashley Scarlett talks to guest Rebekah Lane about this conservation issue.

Bekah Lane is a graduate student at San Francisco State University, studying the risk of ship strikes to humpback whales in San Francisco Bay in Dr. Ellen Hines’ lab. She is also a researcher in the Cetacean Field Research Team at The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California 

May 22nd, 2021

MMS 88: Altruism in Whales

In this week’s episode, we have Bob Pitman who will tell us about some unbelievable displays of altruism, or what seem to be altruistic behaviors, in whales.  You will not want to miss hearing these fascinating stories.


Bob Pitman spent almost 40 years conducting whale survey cruises for NOAA Fisheries in all oceans of the world. He has authored over 100 papers on marine bird and mammal biology but has tended to focus on killer whale ecology during the last 15 yrs. Now retired, he is continuing to write papers and wants to see the few remaining cetacean species he hasn’t seen yet. He now lives in Newport, Oregon, with his wife Lisa Ballance who is currently the director of the Marine Mammal Institute, Oregon State University.



May 18th, 2021

MMS 87: The U.S. whale that no one knows about- but probably the most critically endangered whale in our oceans

Dr Scarlett Smash talks to guest Dr Peter Corkeron about the newly named Gulf of Mexico whale or Rice’s whale. This species was just discovered, but it possibly numbers less than 50 individual animals –  making it one of the most threatened species in the US.