Subject: Interest in whales and threats to whales

Jennifer D. Philips (
Sun, 26 Apr 1998 17:55:07 -1000

>I am very interested in whales and Marine Biology.  Can you tell me what
>attracted you to Marine Biology and what do you think is the greatest threat
>to whales?
>                                Thanks for your time, 
>                                                Emily  

Emily - 

I was attracted to marine biology when I was in high school and I started
getting interested in marine mammals.  I started learning about whales and
dolphins, and when I was a sophmore, I was lucky enough to get a job at
Marine World Africa, USA in California.  Of course my job was as a hostess
at the parks shows, but I at least got to be around dolphins for the first
time.  Once I went to college, though, I changed my mind for a while, but
eventually I came back to biology as my career of choice.  Now I study my
true passion, acoustics and vocalizations, in dolphins, though I have to
say I'd be just as thrilled to be studying the sounds of wolves or birds or
bats.    My exposure has always been to marine mammals though, so that is
how I ended up studying acoustics in dolphins.  

What do I consider to be the biggest threat to whales?  I believe that
today, the biggest threat to all whales is the PAST harms of humans.  Many
to most whale species were hunted in the past to near extinction.  And
today, many of those species are still struggling just to keep their
populations alive.  In today's environment, the threats whales are exposed
to would not be harmful on the level of the population if it were not for
the fact that their populations are already so fragile due to our over
exploitation of them.  As a result of our past actions, though, we must be
very careful, protect them from even rare harms, such as boat collisions,
net entanglement, noise, and pollution.  The loss of one or two animals a
season by human cause should not hurt the population, but when there are so
few animals left, the loss of just one can be a huge setback.

Thanks for your questions!  

Aloha - 
Jen Philips

Jennifer D. Philips

Marine Mammal Research Program
HIMB, University of Hawaii at Manoa
PO Box 1106			
Kailua, HI  96734
voice:  (808) 247-5063
fax: (808) 247-5831