Location: Simons IMAX Theatre

Aquarium Lecture Series

Seal Studies: What Aquarium Scientists Are Learning About Disease, Physiology, and Population Dynamics to Help Protect Seals

Thursday, May 17

Pinnipeds are a diverse group of marine mammals that engender curiosity and fascination. The New England Aquarium has been working with, studying, and rescuing seals for years. This evening’s lecture gives you a closer look at the work being done to better understand the seals here at the Aquarium as well as their wild counterparts.

Patty Schilling, Marine Mammal Supervisor, New England Aquarium, has been a marine mammal trainer at New England Aquarium for 13 years. She provides care, training, and enrichment for the Aquarium’s collection of marine mammals, including the northern fur seals. As part of her job, she has also had the opportunity to participate in NOAA Fisheries’ biennial northern fur seal population counts in St. Paul Island, Alaska. Patty will share information about these experiences, including the current population status of the northern fur seal.

Katherine Graham, M.S., Assistant Scientist, Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium, is developing methods to study the complex reproductive physiology of northern fur seals using noninvasive fecal hormone analysis. This collaborative project aims to better understand reproductive patterns of seals in aquariums, including those at the Aquarium, with potential application of these techniques to study wild populations of northern fur seals.

The Aquarium’s Rescue and Rehabilitation Department is responsible for responding to reports of live and dead marine mammals from Salem, MA, south through Plymouth, MA. Katie Pugliares-Bonner, M.S., Senior Biologist – Necropsy Specialist, New England Aquarium Marine Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Department, will speak about her investigations into and the discovery of novel and emerging disease conditions found during necropsies (animal autopsies) of local stranded pinnipeds as well as the collective efforts of the rescue team.