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The Marine Mammal Institute integrates research, scientific and academic studies within Oregon State University. Our critical mission is to advance conservation and the understanding of marine mammal ecology, which incorporates habitat, food web, health and environmental issues. The Institute works with industries (fisheries, shipping, oil and others) that have potential for endangering target species to help them save marine mammals while accomplishing their work. Our research, information, and studies are targeted for use by public policy makers, scientists, media, educators, and the general public.
Oregon State University's Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station (COMES) was established in 1988 as a counterpart to the inland Agricultural Experiment Station, and was based at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in 1989. One of seven research programs within COMES, the Marine Mammal Program was formed to conduct original research to better understand marine mammal management issues such as population numbers, critical habitats, migrations, behavior, and interactions with human activities (e.g. fishing, oil and gas development, and shipping).
In late 2006, Oregon State University granted full Institute status to the Marine Mammal Program, announcing plans to expand its faculty and broaden the scope of its research. OSU's research in the study of threatened and endangered whale species has been internationally recognized over the past three decades, primarily through the pioneering studies of Bruce Mate, who directs the Institute.
In addition to Dr. Mate's Whale Satellite Telemetry Group, and the Oregon Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network, two new labs were added in 2006. These new labs focus on Pinniped Ecology Applied Research Laboratory (PEARL), headed by Dr. Markus Horning, and Cetacean Conservation and Genomics Laboratory (CCGL), headed by Dr. C. Scott Baker.