SEVENSEAS Marine Conservation & Travel Issue 11, April 2016 - Page 97

MCERC anticipates the Puerto Rico Humpback Whale Research Project to continue each winter. Interns and students participating in the field intensive program continue to gather and analyze data in an attempt to explain the relationship between the smaller aggregations off Puerto Rico with the larger breeding group off the Dominican Republic. In addition to the data aimed at understanding the life history of humpback whales, the research team collects opportunistic data of marine mammals and other flora and fauna.

Each winter MCERC hosts the Humpback Whale Field Intensive Program, which is an on-going project in the 6th year of data collection studying humpback whale behavioral ecology. This program is ideal for anyone wishing to gain field experience in marine mammal science including undergraduates, grad students, and people who have graduated related programs and are looking for opportunities to beef up their experience.

Participants will be integrated into the research team while we do scan sampling surveys and theodolite work from a cliff, collect acoustic and behavioral data from a small boat, and analyze data in the lab using relevant software. You will learn and aid in matching images humpback whale flukes and scars for identification of individuals.

This program includes long days and preparation by participants through reading assigned peer reviewed publications. We live and study together in a field house in Puerto Rico and sessions run from January to April each season. We incorporate swimming and snorkeling into these sessions for a relaxed pace. Bring your snorkel gear and enjoy beautiful, near shore reefs.

For more information on the Puerto Rico Humpback Whale Research Project, please visit marine-eco.org or contact Dr. MacKay Mithriel@marine-eco.org

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