AVS 440 – Seminar on Marine Mammals

Course Information

AVS440Professor: Dr. Kathleen M. Dudzinski
Semester: Spring
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: Junior standing, and BIO 101 and 102 and permission of the instructor.

Catalog Description: Leading scientists discuss the natural history, anatomy, physiology, husbandry, behavior and conservation of marine mammals. Current research is emphasized. Not for graduate credit. Special registration and fee are required. Contact Mystic Aquarium, Mystic, CT 06355 Tel. # 860-572-5955

Course Goals & Outcomes

The goals of this course are:

  • To gain a general understanding of important topics in marine mammal science
  • To gain an appreciation for marine mammal species and to understand how they are treated within our international, national and local communities
  • To further students’ skills in scientific writing
Course Syllabus

Class Topics

  • Evolution & Distribution Parts 1 & 2
  • Morphology
  • Marine Mammal Nutrition
  • Husbandry/Training
  • Marine Mammal Medicine & Disease
  • Pinniped & Cetacean Anatomy & Necropsies
  • Government & Conservation Issues
  • Immunology & Stress
  • Bioacoustics
  • Communication. Behavior, Cognition & Intelligence
  • Diving Physiology & Physiological Adaptations (to life in the sea)
  • Feeding & Energetics

Grades will be based on the following criteria:

  • Two short papers
  • Mid-term exam
  • Final exam
About The Professor

Kathleen M. Dudzinski, Ph.D.
Director, Dolphin Communication Project
Education Scientist-in-Residence
Adjunct Faculty, URI, Dept Fisheries, Animal & Veterinary Science

Mystic Aquarium and The Institute for Exploration
55 Coogan Blvd.
Mystic, CT 06355
Office: (860) 572-5955 x518

Dr. Kathleen Dudzinski is the Director of the Dolphin Communication Project (DCP), a project funded by Mystic Aquarium and the Institute for Exploration in Mystic, Connecticut. The DCP is a program that focuses on gathering behavioral data on various populations of wild and captive dolphins. Dr. Dudzinski’s research interests are primarily on dolphin behavior and communication. Part of Dr. Dudzinski’s time at Mystic Aquarium is dedicated to teaching a seminar on marine mammals for college students from two local universities.


  • B. S. University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
  • Ph.D., Texas A&M University, College Station, TX

Selected Publications

  • Dudzinski, K. M. 1998. Contact behavior and signal exchange among Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis). Aquatic Mammals 24(3): 129-142.
  • Dudzinski, K. M., M. Sakai, M., Masaki, K., Kogi, K., Hishii, T., Kurimoto, M. (2003). Behavioral observations of adult and sub-adult dolphins towards two dead bottlenose dolphins (one female and one male). Aquatic Mammals 29(1): 108-116.
  • Kogi, K., Hishii, T., Imamura, A., Iwatani, T., Dudzinski, K. M. (2004) Demographic parameters of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) around Mikura Island, Japan. Marine Mammal Science 20(3): 510-526.
Reasons To Take This Course

“For the most part this class was what I expected – a smattering of all sorts of marine mammal issues. It was interesting to have a different person lecture each week. It was obvious that lecturers were “experts” in their fields, which meant that we were getting top-of-the-line information. We went in depth on many issues and covered a variety of topics which provided a little something for everyone. One word of advice – know the scientific names of animals!” – Caitlin Vaughn, Senior

“This class taught me everything that I ever wanted to know about marine mammals and more! Although the amount of information learned seemed somewhat overwhelming at times, the wealth of knowledge gained in the many different fields of marine mammal science was well worth the effort. During the class we were required to write two scientific papers and this really helped me work on and develop my writing and research skills.” – Lily

Cool Links