Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies

35 Years of Research & Education

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    Marine Mammal Research


    PCCS has studied marine mammal biology and ecology since the 1970s. Our work has focussed largely on humpback whales and North Atlantic right whales, but has also contributed to the understanding of a range of other marine mammal species. More detail on our research can be found at the links below and in our scientific publications.

    The primary goals of the Humpback Whale Studies Program are to advance the understanding of humpback whale biology, to understand the status of populations and to assess human impacts. Our scientists undertake research off New England (the Gulf of Maine), elsewhere in the North Atlantic, and in the Pacific Ocean. Our long-term study of the Gulf of Maine humpback whale population is one of the most detailed of its kind for a baleen whale population. Program data are therefore also used to facilitate the development of new analytical techniques that can be applied to less well-studied populations and species. Recent research updates can be found here.

    PCCS has conducted population and habitat studies of North Atlantic right whales in and adjacent to Cape Cod Bay for more than 25 years. Our scientists study the demographic composition of whale aggregations, the quality and quantity of their zooplanktonic food, and their distribution and habitat use patterns. This work has improved understanding of the ecology of this species and contributed to management measures to reduce human impacts, such as from entanglement and vessel strikes. An update on this year's research can be found here.

    Humpback Whale
    Right whale
    Humpback whale
    Right whale

    Over the years, our scientists have published studies on a range of other whale and dolphin species. We also maintain a long-term photo-identification catalogue of fin whales from our Gulf of Maine research and share data with the North Atlantic Fin Whale Catalog. Our photo-identification studies of seals on Cape Cod are helping to understand individual residency, movements and interactions with fisheries. Finally, tissue samples collected by PCCS scientists are contributing to several molecular genetic studies of cetacean population structure. Such work has helped to clarify stock structure of fin whales in the North Atlantic Ocean, as well as spinner dolphins and false killer whales in the Pacific Ocean.





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