UNCW researchers are exploring ocean waters off the coast of North and South Carolina in an effort to analyze protection options for marine mammals.

William McLellan, a research associate in the Department of Biology and Marine Biology, and marine biology graduate student Laura Murley are among a group of scientists selected to take part in the Marine Mammal Passive Acoustics and Spatial Ecology Project (MAPS). The first of its type in the region, MAPS focuses on offshore and relatively difficult to detect species, including sperm, beaked and sei whales. As a part of the project, scientists will study the animals’ distribution, behavior and habits.

On Jan. 17, Murley and McLellan, joining scientists and students from Duke University, embarked on the first leg of a research cruise on the RV Song of the Whale, a vessel designed for cetacean visual and acoustic surveys. The RV Song of the Whale is run by a research partner, Marine Conservation Research International.

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Originally published Jan. 24, 2019.