Welcome to the Marine Mammal Institute

Marine mammals are among the most beloved creatures in the ocean. They are deeply familiar and yet remain deeply unknown. Proudly based in Newport, OSU’s Marine Mammal Institute is home to global experts in diverse fields of study, all committed to collaborative approaches to learn about these awe-inspiring animals. 

We train the next generation of scientists, who will go on to work around the world to further our understanding of marine mammals, their habitats, and the impact we humans have on them. Our researchers engage with local communities to inform the work we do and to ensure that our collective efforts have the broadest impact possible. 

We believe it is our inherent responsibility as scientists and as humans to discover and share our knowledge with others. We seek to inspire understanding that taps into our shared values to protect and preserve the vital oceans that we all depend upon for survival, inspiration, and joy. We do this because the only way to ensure a healthy future is if we are all stewards of it.

MMI History

Marine Mammal Program

Oregon State University's Marine Mammal Program was formed in 1982 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).

Whale telemetry group

From 1983 to 2019, Dr. Bruce Mate led the Marine Mammal Program's foundational research laboratory, the Whale Telemetry Group (WTG). The WTG pioneered the development of satellite-monitored radio tags to study the movements, critical habitats, and dive characteristics of free-ranging whales and dolphins around the world. This work led to the discovery of previously unknown migration routes and seasonal distribution (wintering and summering areas), as well as descriptions of diving behavior. Decision makers have used this valuable information to manage human activities that may jeopardize the recovery of endangered whale populations.

marine mammal Institute

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. Bruce Mate retired in 2019 and continues as Professor Emeritus. In fall 2019, Dr. Lisa T. Ballance joined MMI as its new Director.