Intro to Whales, Porpoises, and Seals Syllabus

There is no better place to learn about animals than by observing them in their natural environment. We will have the opportunity to see seals, porpoises, whales and seabirds during our field trips. For two weeks, we will immerse ourselves in the topic of marine mammalogy through formal lectures, discussions, readings and field trips. At the end of this time, I hope you will appreciate marine mammals and their environment even more than you do now. You will also know a great deal about the evolution, ecology and behavior of the marine mammals frequenting the Gulf of Maine and Bay of Fundy. However, many marine mammals travel vast distances during their lives and are true globe-trotters. Therefore, we will also examine global conservation issues.

The Mount Desert Island area is characterized by spectacular scenery and we will use any opportunity to enjoy it and to learn in and from it. Therefore, approximately half of the time will be scheduled for field trips, either going out on a boat or observing animals from shore. Obviously, this schedule will depend on the cooperation of the weather. When we are not out in boats observing marine mammals, we will be inside doing classroom activities (lectures, discussions, reading, and potentially dissections). Topics we will cover include field identification, evolution, sensory systems, feeding and social behavior, and conservation issues. Of course, this list is not complete and more importantly, can be changed to reflect your interests.

The following book will be the primary textbook for the course: National Audubon Society Guide to the Marine Mammals of the World, illustrated by P. Folkens, written by R.R. Reeves, B.S. Stewart, P.J. Clapham and J.A. Powell; published by A.A. Knopf in 2002. ISBN 0-375-41141-0. The book can be ordered online through Knopf (http://www.randomhouse.com/knopf/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780375411410 ) or from online book vendors, such as www.amazon.com. It costs around $20. This book is a beautifully illustrated guide to all marine mammals and contains short chapters on most of the topics we will cover in this course. It is not necessary for you to have read the book before the beginning of the class. However, I would recommend thumbing through the volume before the course to familiarize yourself with the organization and contents. Thus, you will have a better idea of the kind of topics and details that we will cover. It may also spark your interest in a certain topic, which we could then discuss more intensely.

If you are interested in a more in-depth and scientifically oriented book, I recommend A.R. Hoelzel (editor): Marine Mammal Biology - An Evolutionary Approach. It is published by Blackwell Science Ltd. in 2002, and the ISBN number is 0-632-05232-5. You can order this book directly from the publisher ( www.blackwellpublishing.com ) or from online book vendors, such as www.amazon.com . It costs around $80. This textbook covers all major areas of current knowledge and research, it is up-to-date and the individual chapters are written by some of the most recognized experts in their field.

As part of this course, you will team up and develop teaching units on a topic of your choice. These teaching units will serve two purposes: first, we will combine them at the end of the course, so you will have a collection of teaching aids and ideas to take home and use in your teaching. Secondly, your mark in the course will be based on these units.

Finally, if you have any questions, concerns or ideas, please do not hesitate to contact me: christoph.richter@utoronto.ca

 

 

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