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About Us

Marine Mammal Laboratory

A Division of the Alaska Fisheries Science Center


What We Do

The Marine Mammal Laboratory, a division of the Alaska Fisheries Science Center, conducts research on mammals located off the coasts of Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and California. MML collects information on behavior, population dynamics, life history, environments, and trends in abundance for whales, seals, sea lions and porpoises in Alaska and along the west coast.

Research is conducted through air-, land- and sea-based censuses, radio, satellite-linked and migration studies as well as critical feeding and behavioral research surveys. MML works with numerous partners including NOAA Fisheries Alaska and Northwest Regional Offices, the Office of Protected Resources, the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council, the International Whaling Commission, the Arctic Council and the Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management.

Alaska Ecosystems Program

The Alaska Ecosystems Program conducts research on Steller sea lions and northern fur seals off the coast of Alaska. This program is designed to assess the current status of these species as well as gather information to help improve our knowledge of their behavior, health, and ecology.  Additionally, this research helps scientists gain a better understanding of the role that these species play in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska ecosystems.

The Polar Ecosystems Program

The Polar Ecosystems Program conducts research and monitoring on seals and sea lions in the Arctic, sub-Arctic, and Antarctic marine ecosystems. The research focuses primarily on the trends, distribution, abundance and foraging behavior of harbor, bearded, ringed, spotted, and ribbon seals in Alaska. The primary objective of the program is to gain a greater understanding of these species and gather information that will assist scientists in creating a dynamic management plan under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

The Cetacean Assessment & Ecology Program

The CAEP Program is responsible for conducting studies to assess the status of whales in Alaskan waters under the Endangered Species and Marine Mammal Protection Acts.  These studies have included the North Pacific right, bowhead, gray, humpback, beluga and killer whales, as well as the Dall’s and harbor porpoise. Past research has also included species such as the blue, fin, sei, minke, sperm and beaked whales, as well as the Pacific white-sided dolphin.

Most research involves the determination of abundance, trends, stock structure, habitat and feeding habits of these species using aerial, vessel or shore-based survey counts, acoustic studies, radio or satellite tagging, genetic studies, and photo-identification. The resulting data is then used by scientists to help produce a “best management” strategy.

The California Current Ecosystems Program

The California Current Ecosystems Program conducts research on the status and trends of marine mammals in Washington, Oregon, and California. The research focuses on reviewing the abundance and demographic parameters that regulate population growth such as disease and environmental changes.  Studies of movements, behavior and foraging patterns also provide insight into the role marine mammals play in the ecosystem as whale populations recover from historical exploitation.

Our Leadership

John Bengtson

Division Director, Marine Mammal Laboratory

John Bengtson is Director of the Marine Mammal Laboratory, a division of Alaska Fisheries Science Center. Trained as a wildlife ecologist, having earned a Ph.D. (manatees) and M.S. (crabeater seals) from the University of Minnesota, as well as a B.A. in biology and conservation at Carthage College, Wisconsin.His personal research focus in on trying to understand the natural variation in interactions among high-latitude marine mammals, birds, and their environment.

Robyn Angliss

Deputy Director, Marine Mammal Laboratory

Robyn Angliss is the Deputy Director of the Marine Mammal Laboratory, a division of Alaska Fisheries Science Center. Robyn assists with MML leadership responsibilities provides oversight for daily MML operations and supervises MML's administrative and information technology staff. She has been involved with the development of the annual Alaska Marine Mammal Stock Assessment Reports since 2001.