We study aspects of marine mammal behavior as these relate to the animals' habitats, especially food availability patterns, where to engage in mating and calving with minimal threats of predation, and human impacts.

Most of our work has centered around dolphins and whales that occur rather close to shore, such as Amazon river, bottlenose, Hawaiian spinner, humpback, and dusky dolphins; and bowhead and gray whales.



Our work tends to use "bread and butter" non-invasive research techniques of focal animal sampling with binoculars, spotting scopes and theodolite tracking from shore; and line transects, photographic identification, and hydrophone recordings from boats. However, we have also used skin swabbing and other sampling of tissue for genetic work; radio tracking; and assessment of dive and prey acquisition patterns by low-intensity active sonar.

Presently, we are conducting a long-term project on dusky dolphins in New Zealand, which started in 1983, as well as several other projects around the world (see list below).



Years Location Current investigators

Social-sexual strategies, social-foraging strategies and human interactions — dusky dolphins

1983—present New Zealand

Dara Orbach
Sarah Piwetz

Photo-identification and theodolite tracking of common bottlenose dolphins along the coasts of southern Texas 1990—present Texas, USA Mariana Da Silveira
Sarah Piwetz
Human impacts — Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins and finless porpoises 1993—present Hong Kong

Samuel K. Hung
Sarah Piwetz
Bernd Würsig

Human impacts — western gray whales 1997—present Russia Glenn Gailey
Seasonal occurence patterns and social strategies — humpback whales 2010—present Puerto Rico Mithriel M. MacKay
Occurrence, behaviors, ecology, and human impacts — dolphins of the Mediterranean 2011—present Greece and Italy

Giovanni Bearzi
Silvia Bonizzoni






A theodolite program designed to assist researchers in collecting, managing, and analyzing data. The program interfaces with a digital theodolite and provides a dynamic and user-friendly interface.




Bernd Würsig Perpetual Up The Creek Award


Sockrifice Ceremony






Research and Conservation in the Gulf of Corinth, Greece: Dolphins, Fisheries and Cultural Heritage

June 2015