The field of marine biology is inherently difficult because of the inaccessibility of the ocean. All marine biologists must contend with harsh, unpredictable conditions that are traversible only by boat or plane. The job of a cetacean biologist is further complicated by small population sizes, wide, sparse dispersal and a lack of research on rare species. Therefore, advances in technology and data management, such as Geogrpahic Information Systems, GIS, have given scientists new tools to monitor and, eventually, conserve our ocean resources.

To study cetaceans, whales and dolphins, biologists need to understand where, when and why individual populations are through time. Knowledge of location and duration of activity and movement gives researchers important clues about the life history of these animals. Specifically, scientists are interested in assessing migration patterns, stock populations, individual identification, mortality rates and human interactions. All of these variables combined can establish a research paradigm appropriate to understand and protect wild cetaceans.

This web site summarizes the context of GIS in cetacean research. It provides an overall view of the data required by researchers and ultimate uses of the data, and, finally, examples of labs currently using GIS technology in their research. Finally, please view the links page for further information on cetaceans and GIS.

To learn more about GIS and its marine field applications visit this site.


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This website was created by Amber Hartman as a part of a class project in Imaging the Earth, at Davidson College