Dr. Steven Katona, professor of biology, served as the director of Allied Whale until he became president of COA in 1993. Dr. Moira Brown took over directorship when she was hired to replace Steve’s faculty position. Currently, Dr. Sean Todd, professor in Marine Mammology and the Steven K. Katona Chair in Marine Sciences, is the director of Allied Whale. Since its beginning, Allied Whale has been at the forefront of modern whale research and is recognized as a leader in the development of techniques used by whale biologists world-wide.
Allied Whale is involved in field research projects that are far ranging, both scientifically and geographically. Our biologists and students study whales not only in the Gulf of Maine, but often work in many other areas of the world on collaborative projects with both American and foreign institutions. In recent years, our researchers’ studies have taken them to Canada (finback, humpback and right whales in the Bay of Fundy, finbacks off Nova Scotia in winter, and humpbacks off Newfoundland), the Antarctic (humpback whales), New Zealand (Hector’s dolphins), Dominican Republic (humpback whale breeding and calving ground), and Bermuda (humpback whale migration).
In addition to field research, Allied Whale houses the largest collection of information on photo-identified humpback and finback whales in the world. Photo-ID is a technique that enables scientists to follow an individual whale anywhere it may travel throughout its life by comparing natural color patterns, fin shapes, and other distinguishing marks that appear in its photographs. Allied Whale researchers were among the first to successfully use this technique to study whales.