Swimming Sentinels: Climate Clues from Stranded Marine Mammals

From skinny sea lions on beaches in California, to hundreds of enormous dead whales in the fjords of Chile, scientists have been recently puzzled by a spate of dead and dying marine mammals. These events are so complicated- influenced by disease, biotoxins, ecosystem changes, and human interaction-that their cause can appear impossible to untangle. Yet a growing body of evidence strongly suggests that climate change has a hand in them all. This thesis examines marine mammal stranding events of the past and present to show how climate change will, and already has, impacted marine mammals, and how these events could serve as proxies for broader ecosystem changes in the years to come. By paying attention to whales and dolphins, seals and sea otters, we may be able to learn something about our planet, and how its changes will impact its most abundant mammal: us.

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Claudia Geib

About Claudia Geib

Claudia grew up on Long Island, New York, where she spent her formative years wading into tide pools and staring off at the horizon in search of whales. She spent her undergraduate years at Northeastern University pursuing degrees in Journalism and Environmental Science, while using any free space in her schedule to indulge her interest in marine science– from helping with the necropsy of a 9-foot seal at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, to hauling lines on a 134-foot tall sailing ship off of New Zealand with Sea Education Association. After her classwork at MIT, she completed an internship with Nautilus Magazine in New York. She is currently based in Somerville and both writing and editing freelance, focusing on the environment, wildlife and marine science. Thesis: Swimming Sentinels: Climate Clues from Stranded Marine Mammals