Marine mammals and the oceans
The Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) is a taxon based, interdisciplinary group of scientists and engineers with a wide range of skills and expertise within marine mammal science. Because marine mammals are notoriously difficult to study as many species have a fully aquatic lifestyle, we, together with our collaborators across the world, have developed innovative approaches that have enabled us to answer a broad range of questions linking marine mammal physiology, biology and ecology to changes in environmental conditions. For example, the results of these endeavours have enabled us to investigate the impact of man’s activities in the oceans on marine mammal individuals and populations and to assess the distribution, abundance and health of many marine mammal species and populations. Here I will show how the team have developed novel techniques – from remote sensing of animals and the development of animal borne sensors such as CTD telemetry tags and health biomarkers to new methods for collecting samples from marine mammals using unmanned aerial vehicles – that have enabled us to contribute to our knowledge of the seas and oceans, ocean circulation patterns and marine environmental quality as well as furthering our basic understanding of marine mammal biology, ecology and health.