Marine Studies On-line Resource

About Us

Course Descriptions
Course Registration
Course Schedules/Locations
Academic Policies & Procedures
(students - read student section)
Member Institutions
(find the Consortium contact at your school)
Weather Alert
(check for possible class cancellations)

Contact Us

Introduction to Marine Mammals

Course Outline

Course Logistics:

Time: check here

Place: check here

Dr. Regina Campbell-Malone, Woods Hole Oceanogaphic Institution

for questions about logistics, registration etc contact:
Course administrator: Roger Stern, Exec. Dir., Marine Studies Consortium; Phone: 781-444-3643; Email: rstern at

Course Texts:

For Possible Cancellations (due to inclement weather):
check Weather Alert. Cancellations will also be aired on WCVB Channel 5 and announced by voice message at 781-444-3643

Course Description:
This course is designed to familiarize students with the biology and natural history of marine mammals, and through them, an understanding of marine ecosystems. While emphasis is on the western North Atlanitc, species from all over the world will be dicussed. Topics include evolution, anatomy, behavior, field identification, the history of whaling and sealing, and contemporary conservation problems. Hands-on activities may include an evening of laboratory work, as well as a field trip to a local museum. While this is a serious biology course, it has no biology prerequisite. While it is appropriate for environmental studies and non-science majors, students who have had some college biology will be better prepared than those who have not.

Course Requirements:

Academic honesty/plagiarism policy: Students are expected to maintain the highest standards of academic honesty. A student will not receive credit for work that is not the product of the student's own effort. Infringement of academic honesty by a student subjects that student to penalties or disciplinary procedures of the student's home institution (that may include failure of the course).

A student's name on any written exercise constitutes a statement that the work is the result of the student's own thought and study, stated in the students own words, and produced without the assistance of others (except in quotes, footnotes or references with appropriate acknowledgement of the source). A student who is in doubt about standards of academic honesty (such plagiarism, multiple submissions of written work, unacknowledged or unauthorized collaborative effort, false citation or false data) should consult either the course instructor, school liaison, or staff of MSC.


Week Date Lecture topics
Wk. 1 1. Introduction, Diversity, Zoogeography
2. Field identification and Taxonomy 1
Wk. 2 3. Field identification and Taxonomy 2
4. Evolution
Wk. 3 5. Anatomy and Physiology 1:
a. Locomotion, diving, migration
b. Thermoregulation
c. Osmoregulation
Assignment of Paper Topics
Wk. 4 6. Anatomy and Physiology 2:
a. Nervous system
b. Sensory systems (touch, hearing, vision)
c. Problem solving and memory
Wk. 4.5 (Sat) Massachusetts Bay FIELD TRIP
leaves from New England Aquarium, Central Wharf
Wk. 5 7. Anatomy and Physiology 3:
a. Digestive system
b. Feeding ecology
c. Energetics
Wk. 6 8. Anatomy and Physiology 4:
a. Life history
b. Reproductive system
c. Reproductive strategies
Wk. 7 9. Behavior:
a. Health and maintenance
b. Feeding
c. Predator avoidance
d. Mating and rearing
Wk. 8 10. Population structure and dynamics
11. Techniques for monitoring populations
Wk. 9 12. History of whaling and sealing
13. Contemporary whaling and sealing issues
14. Policies
Wk. 10 15. Vocal Anatomy
16. Acoustic communication
17. Echolocation
Wk. 11 18. Impact of environmental pollution on marine mammals
Wk. 12 19. Conservation and management
Wk. 13 20. Case study: the North Atlantic Right whale
Wk. 14 21. Imax ?Whales? movie
22. Group discussion
a. Conservation
b. Ethics
c. Research