Marine Mammals Dynamic Population in South Orkney Is. & South Shetland Is.

Project Description
History of Program:

The Smithsonian Institution has long had an interest in marine
mammals, starting with the hiring of Spencer Fullerton Baird in
1850 as assistant secretary with the responsibility of the
directorship of the United States National Museum. In 1878
Baird became the second secretary of the Smithsonian
Institution, a position he held until his death in 1887. Baird
was an avid naturalist with a bent towards the marine
environment. His interest lead to the hiring of such eminent
naturalists as Leonard Stejneger and William H. Dall. Although
Stejneger was most known for his work in herpetology and Dall
in mollusks, they were part of a body of researchers who
contributed to the study of marine mammals whenever
possible. Baird also was implemental in the forming of the
United States Fish Commission in 1871 and became the first
director of that commission. The Fish Commission has gone
through a variety of names changes, from the Bureau of
Commercial Fisheries up through the National Mar! ine
Fisheries Service. The Commission has always had an interest in
marine mammals fostered by the interests of its first
director. The current Marine Mammal Program of the Smithsonian
maintains a excellent working relationship with the National
Marine Fisheries Service resulting in numerous additions to the
marine mammal collection.

Current Marine Mammal Program:

The Marine Mammal Program is a cooperative research program whose
principal goal is to extract all biological data that we can from
stranded and incidentally taken animals. Strandings form our only means
of access to better than half of the cetacean species. It is possible
to gain data on many aspects of the normal life history of cetaceans
through a thorough examination of these specimens. We routinely
collect data and specimens that relate to stomach contents, relative
organ weights, parasite burden, reproductive condition and stage of
physical maturity. We also take external morphometrics and photographs
of the external pigmentation pattern. This data forms the basis for
all of Dr. Mead's current research publications.

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[Summary provided by Smithsonian]