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Postdoctoral Fellow: Yara Bernaldo de Quiros
October 2011 - October 2013

Research Summary

My Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) was funded by the WHOI Marine Mammal Center, and Wick and Sloan Simmons and focused on analyzing the gas content of bubbles in bycaught marine mammals.  Dr. Michael Moore described in 2009 the presence of gas bubbles in marine mammals entangled and drowned in gillnets by computed tomography, gross examination and histopathology.  Based on the absence of bacteria or autolytic changes in the tissues of those animals, Dr. Moore suggested that the gas was produced peri- or post-mortem by a fast decompression, probably by quickly hauling animals entangled in the net at depth to the surface.  In this project we analyzed the gas composition of the bubbles and we scored their abundance in order to distinguish gas embolisms from putrefaction gases. We studied bycaught marine mammals in anchored sink gillnets and bottom otter trawls provided by the NOAA North East Fisheries Program.  We compared these data with marine mammals stranded on Cape Cod, thanks to the collaboration with the International Fund for Animal Welfare.  The main results from this study were that bycaught animals presented with statistically significant higher gas scores than stranded animals.  Gas composition analyses indicate that gas was formed by decompression, confirming the decompression hypothesis of Dr. Moore. These results have been published, and can be found at:


We also have offered gas analysis services to other marine mammal stranding networks.

My thanks to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and it's Marine Mammal Center for enabling me to attend training sessions in Norway for persons responsible for directing animal experiments and for receiving the corresponding certification needed to conduct aniaml experiments according to European laws.   In this course I learned all the regulations concerning experiments with laboratory animals, and also important concepts for animal welfare, such as animal health, monitoring, handling techniques, humane endpoints, and more importantly, the alternatives to the use of animals and the 3 R’s  (Replacement, Reduction, and Refinement), which are the principal of humane experimental techniques.

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Amber Creamer.

Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies Internship Experience

Amber Creamer
Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, Canada

Summer of 2013

Amber completed an exciting six week internship with the Northwest Atlantic Seal Research Consortium. She primarily worked on a project led by her internship host, Owen Nichols, to examine conflict with grey seals in the Cape Cod weir fishery. The internship involved collecting data on seal depredation in collaboration with local fishermen, preforming an extensive literature review, and analyzing data to contribute to a scientific publication. Amber also had the opportunity to work with other researchers at the Provincetown Centre for Coastal Studies on seal population surveys, and at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on grey seal tagging and updating of the Marine Animal Identification Network website. Amber’s internship provided insight for her graduate project in the Master of Marine Management program at Dalhousie University, which focused on developing a management plan for seal and fishery interactions in Atlantic Canada.

Last updated: August 7, 2014