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R/V Seawolf Cruises Waters off NYC to Study Marine Life

PhD student Julia Stepanuk uses video and photos from drone flights to study the body condition and foraging behavior of humpback whales for her dissertation research.

A team of researchers from the labs of Drs. Lesley Thorne, Janet Nye and Joe Warren in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) began the first of a series of multi-year research cruises on the R/V Seawolf in 2018. The team’s goal is to better understand the ecosystem of the New York Bight, a region of the ocean extending offshore from coastal New York waters to the continental shelf break. The research is funded by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation with permits for cetacean research from the National Marine Fisheries Service.

PhD student Julia Stepanuk uses video and photos from drone flights to study the body condition and foraging behavior of humpback whales for her dissertation research.
PhD student Julia Stepanuk uses video and photos from drone flights to study the body condition and foraging behavior of humpback whales for her dissertation research.

The New York Bight includes features that provide suitable habitat for a wide range of marine species, including whales and dolphins. Hudson Canyon, a deep submarine valley in the Atlantic Ocean located off New York City and Long Island, contains a rich diversity of deep-sea species and provides important foraging habitat for deep-diving whales and dolphins. Conducting standardized surveys for these species is important to understanding and predicting their abundance, distribution and habitat use. By combining marine mammal surveys with surveys of oceanographic conditions and fish, the research team hopes to learn more about predator-prey interactions and factors driving the distribution of whales and dolphins in New York waters.

For more about cetacean research on this project, see the blog post by PhD students Julia Stepanuk and Alex Borowicz.

PhD student Julia Stepanuk is using video and photos from drone flights to study the body condition and foraging behavior of humpback whales for her dissertation research.

Julia Stepanuk performs research aboard the R/V/ Seawolf.
Julia Stepanuk performs research aboard the R/V/ Seawolf.

For more about this research cruise, see the blog post by PhD students Julia Stepanuk and Alex Borowicz.

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