Meaghan aboard the sailboat Balaena Meaghan Jankowski

I am a Master's Student at Dalhousie University in the Whitehead Lab. Currently I am continuing a photo-identification study of long-finned pilot whales off the north-west coast of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. In the process of adding to the photo-id catalogue of pilot whales started in 1998, I hope to identify further long-term social units of pilot whales in this region. By analyzing underwater hydrophone recordings from these social units, I can compare their vocal repertoires. I will also be looking into the short-range movements of individuals between two local bays in the area.

Field Research in Cape Breton

I completed two field seasons in Cape Breton to collect data for my masters' thesis. In the summers of 2002 and 2003, I conducted research aboard Captain Mark's Whale and Seal Cruise, in Pleasant Bay, NS. Joseph Lake, an honour's student in our lab, acted as my research assistant in the summer of 2003. During July and August, weather permitting, we went on 5 trips a day of 1.5-2 hrs. duration. We collected positional, photographic, acoustic and behavioural data on the pilot whales we encountered. We also collected positional and photographic data on any other cetacean species we came across.

Other Whale Research Experience

In May of 2001, I had the opportunity to volunteer for a 3 week trip aboard the sailboat Balaena, as part of Tonya Wimmer's master's research. Starting in North Carolina, we conducted a survey of cetaceans along the 1,000 m. contour line all the way to Halifax, NS. In addition to regular crew duties, I actively surveyed for cetaceans, recording any sightings along with regular environmental data and hydrophone recordings. We sighted at least one cetacean species every day and because of our 'engine problems', we saw quite a few Mesoplodon beaked whales that usually avoid motoring boats. However, we didn't sight any Northern Bottlenose whales, which is what we were actually out looking for!

During the last week of August, 2003, I finally got to see my first Northern Bottlenose Whale. I participated in a 5 day trip aboard Balaena, to the Gully, a submarine canyon east of Sable Island, NS. The purpose was to collect some biopsy samples from the endangered population of Northern Bottlenose whales that live there year-round, as part of Merel Dalebout's postdoctoral research. I recorded our encounters with Northern Bottlenose whales, which included specifics about identification photos and related biopsy samples. I also got to take some of the identification photos myself.

Return to Dalhousie Whale Research Last Updated September 2003 by Meaghan Jankowski