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Antarctic Whale Science: How Do Humpbacks Find Their Food? With Professor Mike Coffin
July 19, 2022 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Humpback whales feed mainly on krill and small fish, but how these 25,000 – 30,000 kg baleen cetaceans find sufficient food for sustenance without echolocation remains a mystery. An ongoing, multi-year, science-industry collaboration is attempting to solve this conundrum by testing the hypothesis that an engimatic organ beneath the lower jaw of humpbacks senses chemicals associated with plankton consumption by krill. This presentation focuses on the inaugural collaborative expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula in March 2019, including a 30-minute film encompassing both scientific and tourism activities.
Marine geophysicist Mike Coffin investigates interactions between the oceanic environment and the solid Earth. After growing up in Bangor, he was educated Dartmouth College (AB) and Columbia University (MA, MPhil, PhD). Ever since, he has pursued an international career that reflects the boundless nature of the global ocean. He has worked in Australia (1985-1989; 2011-present), the US (1990-2001), Japan (2001-2007), and the UK (2008-2010). He has also held visiting positions in the US (1982, 2002, 2016-present), Norway (1992, 1996), Australia (2000), and France (2001). Mike has led or participated in 37 blue-water research expeditions, focused mainly in the Southern, Pacific, and Indian oceans.