OSU marine biologist Bruce Mate helps protect earth’s largest animals by studying their critical habitats and migration patterns.

Bruce Mate at sea
Bruce Mate at sea

Bruce Mate made national news in 2002 with his landmark study of massive blue whales. The director of OSU’s Marine Mammal Program at the Hatfield Marine Science Center also was featured in the BBC television production “Blue Planet,” airing on the Discovery Channel.

“We’ve focused on finding critical habitats, including where blue whales breed and calve,” Mate said. “We hope to reduce the impact of human activities on their recovery.”

Since 1993, Mate and colleagues have tagged 100 blue whales off California’s coast and tracked their movements by satellite. They found that the whales travel farther and faster than previously thought–seeking fertile upwelling zones for their krill diet–and that they feed throughout the year.

Even though the whales are the earth’s largest animals–up to 100 feet long and 100 tons–little was known about their migration and winter habits. Mate and his staff have developed state-of-the-art satellite-monitored radio tags and use other new technologies in their research. The ongoing studies have resulted in discoveries that dramatically increased the current level of knowledge about several species. Mate’s research is funded by the Marine Mammal Endowment at OSU and the Office of Naval Research.

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