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Faculty Page - Sean K. Todd, Ph.D.



Contact details:

College of the Atlantic 
105 Eden St. 
Bar Harbor, ME, 04609 






Present Employment

Faculty member (professor) at College of the Atlantic, Bar Harbor, Maine (USA), teaching biology, sensory ecology, oceanography, quantitative science, statistics and marine mammal science classes.

Senior Researcher and Faculty Advisor, Allied Whale&emdash;a marine mammal research facility at College of the Atlantic, performing dedicated research on local cetacean and pinniped species, and part of the NMFS U.S. Northeast Region Marine Mammal Stranding Network.

Adjunct faculty at University of Maine, Orono: Dept. of Wildlife Ecology


Academic Qualifications

Ph.D. (Biopsychology): thesis title "Dietary patterns of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) in the Northwest Atlantic; evidence from 13C and 15N stable isotopes", (1997), supervised by Dr. Jon Lien at Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada.

M.Sc. (Biopsychology): thesis title "The acoustics of fishing gear; possible relationships to baleen whale entrapment", (1991), supervised by Dr. Jon Lien at Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada.

B.Sc. Joint Hons., graduated with Honours (Marine Biology and Oceanography). University College of North Wales, Bangor, UK


Previous employment

2003: Naturalist/Zodiac Driver, Explorer Shipping Corporation, onboard the M/S Explorer, visiting ports in South America, Falklands, South Georgia, Antarctic Peninsula and the Weddell Sea.

2002-present: Disentanglement consultant for States of Maine and Rhode Island, providing training for the fishing industry and state government employees for release of non-endangered balaenopterids from fishing gear.

1995-1998: Part/full-time sessional teacher at Memorial University (St. John's, NF) for Depts. of Biology and Psychology, teaching graduate, honours and undergraduate level statistics courses, and undergraduate Biology courses.

1988-95: Teaching/graduate assistant for Departments of Biology and Psychology, Memorial University (St. John's, NF), teaching behaviour and experimental design (statistics) courses.

1991: Senior Researcher, assessing effects of tourboat traffic on marine mammal and seabird behaviour in Witless Bay (Newfoundland, Canada). Duties included supervision of project, coordination of volunteers, training, data collection and statistical analysis (5-month contract).

1989: Research Assistant to Dr. Jon Lien, Whale Research Group, Memorial University (St. John's, Newfoundland). 3 month contract.


Current Research Interests

2002-present. Monitoring the health and status of balaenopterid whales in the Gulf of Maine using stable isotopes (Principal Investigator). A collaborative project that combines sampling protocols from College of the Atlantic, Center for Coastal Studies (MA) and the Whale Center of New England (MA) to examine photo-identified balaenopterids in the Gulf of Maine basin, using genetic and stable isotope assays.

2001-present: Scientific cruises to collect photo-identification images of Antarctic-summering humpback whales, South Georgia and Antarctic Peninsula.

2001-present: Bioacoustic modeling of marine-mammal shipstrikes, principal investigator, recording and analyzing vessel acoustic signatures and behavioral observation of marine mammal species in close proximity to high-speed vessels. Phase II completed.

1998-present: A 5 year ecological and population study of balaenopterids in the Northern Gulf of Maine (principal investigator), conducting photo-identification, biopsy, genetic and stable isotope research of humpback and finback whales to assess foraging ecology and behaviour in the northern Gulf of Maine. Use of photo-identification catalogs to assess population status (mark-recapture, etc.). Considerable small boat handling experience.

1998-present: Field Station operations. Responsible for maintenance and day-to-day running of research field site (Mount Desert Rock) located 25 miles offshore on a remote light-station island. Skills include staff (8+ researchers) and building management in an isolated, extreme setting, with some small engine, equipment and craft maintenance. Responsible for running day-to-day research activities using 3 14' rigid-hulled inflatable vessels.

1998-present: Co-Director of Marine Mammal Stranding Response Program. Responsibilities include the organization of a coastal network (in Maine) of volunteer respondents, case assessment, management of animal handling and capture, animal release and animal euthanasia/necropsy/autopsy as appropriate.

1998-present: Member of First Response Team, Whale Disentanglement Program, Maine, USA, and member of the Large Whale Disentanglement Network (coordinated by the Center for Coastal Studies), trained to Level 3 (of four levels). Responsibilities include marker buoy deployment, entanglement assessment and animal release.

1998-present: Supervision of graduate and undergraduate honors theses at College of the Atlantic, and University of Maine Orono; currently advising two M.S, two M. Phil., and one Ph.D. candidate. Past and present supervised topics include: Behavioral interactions between harbor and gray seals; Prediction of high-speed vessel ship-strikes on cetaceans; A photo-identification catalogue of Northern Gulf of Maine humpback whales; Seal predation on lobster; Isotopic heterogeneity in marine mammal tissues; Sociological impacts of marine mammal-fishing gear collisions; and Monitoring balaenopterid movements in three dimensions using retrievable tags.


Other Research/Experiences

1995-present: Interpretation guide/naturalist for whale tourboat companies.

1994-present: Isotopic analysis of whale tissues (Collection of samples through YoNAH and other protocols. Analysis of materials).

1992-1994: Years of the North Atlantic Humpback (YoNAH). Participation in a 3-year census project of humpback whales. Photo-id and biopsy of individuals. Use of global positioning systems and LORAN. Considerable boat handling experience in a variety of weather conditions in close proximity to whales.

1992-93: Heart rate of cetaceans (measurement of EKGs of humpback and blue whales, and harbour porpoise - either entrapped or stranded).

1992: Senior researcher, responsible for assessment of whale reaction to acoustic noise (participation and write-up of impact study conducted for Hibernia Management concerning effects of underwater explosions on humpback whales. Recording and analysis of explosions, behavioural observation and photo-id of individual whales, some oceanographic measures also).

1990-1991: Participation in net alarm design program, and investigation of cetacean reactions to alarms. Skills include behavioural observation, theodolite position fixing, experimental design, an understanding of net design, and working with fishermen.

1989-1998: Whale Entrapment Release Program, Newfoundland (participation in release program for whales that become incidentally entrapped in fishing gear and nets. Experience in boat handling and in working in direct contact with entrapped animals. Also experienced in live/ice strandings). Experience in working directly with fishermen.

1988-present: Education outreach (participation in science presentations for elementary and secondary schools, conservation groups and government departments, including US Coastguard, US Parks Service, and the National Marine Fisheries Service). Also includes presentations to national and international media (TV, radio and film).


Professional Activities

1998-present. Member of various examination committees for Ph.D. and M.Phil. degrees.

2000-present: Member of Scientific Advisory Board, American Cetacean Society.

2001-present. Member of Marine Mammal/Seabird working Advisory Committee to the Pilot Census of Marine Life in the Gulf of Maine, sponsored by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.

2002. Invited participant in the Intersessional Working Group on Large Whale Entanglement, International Whaling Commission Scientific Committee.

2002. Invited participant in the International Boundary Preplanning Workshop, developing consensus for international-based responses to environmental priorities for oil spill protection.

2003. Appointed member, Scientific Board of Advisees, Marine Environmental Research Institute (MERI), Blue Hill, Maine.

2003. Invited participant at the Large Whale Disentanglement Workshop, sponsored by NMFS/NOAA, Boston MA, March 2003.

1996-present: Peer review examination of books, manuscripts, abstracts, and research proposals for:

American Cetacean Society
Journal of Mammalogy
Journal of Marine Technology
Marine Mammal Science
McGraw Hill Publishers
National Marine Fisheries Service Health and Stranding Program
Oceanic Engineering International
Routledge Press
Society for Marine Mammalogy
Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program, US Dept. of Defense


Funding awarded

For various research projects with Allied Whale, and in cooperation with the Development Division at COA:

2003: Enhancing the marine mammal stranding response program for downeast Maine. Prescott Health and Stranding Program, $100,000.

2002: Monitoring the health and status of balaenopterid whales in the Gulf of Maine using stable isotopes; Prescott Health and Stranding Program, $63,500.

2002: Research program on Mount Desert Rock: Cestone Foundation $10,000.

2001: Bioacoustic modeling of marine-mammal shipstrikes. Maren Foundation. US$21,000.

2000: Mammal Stranding Network: Cestone Foundation $5,000.

2000: Research program on Mount Desert Rock: Davis Foundation $10,000, Oracle Foundation $10,000.

1999: Field Station Improvement. The Cabot Trust, $25,000

1999: Mammal Stranding Network: Cestone Foundation $5,000, Bernice Barbour Foundation $10,000, Eleanor Patterson-Baker Foundation $25,000.

1999: Research program on Mount Desert Rock: Davis Foundation $10,000, Homeland Foundation $24,500.


Awards held

1985:Jones Morris Award for Achievement (UCNW).

1987:Derbyshire Prize for Achievement (UCNW).

1988:School of Graduate Studies Fellowship, Memorial University (2 years tenure).

1988:Bulkeley Evans Scholarship for Overseas Studies (2 years tenure).

1990:School of Graduate Studies Bursary, Memorial University (4 months tenure).

1991:United Kingdom Commonwealth Scholarship (5 years tenure).

1996:Nominated for Hoar Award, Best Presentation at the 35th Annual Meeting of the Canadian Society of Zoologists (received Honourary Mention). 

1996:Nominated for Cas Lindsay Award, Best EEE Presentation at the 35th Annual Meeting of the Canadian Society of Zoologists (received Honourary Mention).

1998:Birks Medal (Graduate) for Student Leadership, recognizing excellence in contributions to the quality of student academic-life.



For a list of publications, including .pdf files, go here


Current Course Portfolio:

Introductory Biology 1

Introduction to Statistics and Research Design

Fisheries and their Management

Introductory Biology 2

Advanced Research and Statistical Design

Sensory Ecology

Statistics for Biologists

Vertebrate Biology

Animal Communication

Marine Mammal Biology 1

Ontogeny and Phylogeny of Behavior

Biological Oceanography

Marine Mammal Biology 2

Animal Behavior


Field Studies in Marine Mammal Science

Evolutionary Ecology

A History of Opera


New courses being developed:


Ecology and Literature of the Sea


For descriptions of courses currently offered please refer to the College of the Atlantic Catalog, 1999-2000, available from College of the Atlantic, 105 Eden Street, Bar Harbor, ME, 04609, or visit

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