Managing Leviathan: Conservation Challenges for the Great Whales in a Post-Whaling World
April 27, 2016
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Phil Clapham currently directs the Cetacean Assessment and Ecology Program at NOAA’s National Marine Mammal Laboratory in Seattle, where he supervises a staff of 25 scientists and oversees research projects on species ranging from harbor porpoises to blue whales. After graduating from the University of London, he began his work with cetaceans in 1980 at the Center for Coastal Studies in Massachusetts, where he later served as the leader of the long-term study (now in its fifth decade) of individually identified humpback whales in the Gulf of Maine. Phil obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Aberdeen (Scotland), and subsequently conducted post-doctoral work in molecular genetics at Cambridge University and the University of Copenhagen. He remains affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, where he worked for four years as a conservation biologist before accepting a position leading the Large Whale Biology Program at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. In 2004 he moved to Seattle; there, his research group emphasizes multi–disciplinary studies that combine visual and acoustic surveys with oceanography, satellite telemetry, genetics and other innovative methods to better understand the population biology and conservation status of threatened cetaceans in Alaska and elsewhere. He has developed a wide network of national and international collaborators, and has worked on most large whale species in locations ranging from the Arctic to the South Pacific.
With his wife, Dr Yulia Ivashchenko, Phil has played a major role in correcting the catch record relating to the former USSR’s global campaign of illegal whaling, which ran for 30 years and involved almost 180,000 unreported whale catches. He and his wife also recently exposed similar illegal hunting of sperm whales by Japan in the 1960’s.
Over the past thirty years, Phil has advised national governments and other bodies on whale research and conservation, including as scientific advisor to the Presidential Commission on Sanctuaries for the Dominican Republic. He is a former member of the Board of Governors of the Society for Marine Mammalogy, a founding member of the South Pacific Whale Research Consortium, and since 1997 has been on the U.S. delegation to the International Whaling Commission’s Scientific Committee. To date, he has published five books and more than 150 refereed papers on large whales and other cetaceans. He has also served as Editor or Associate Editor for several prominent scientific journals, and is currently on the Editorial Board of the Royal Society of London.
Whale image, top: Photograph © Colin Baxter