University of Bridgeport’s Department of Biology lecture series on the sciences continues Wednesday, November 9, when Sandra Wise, a toxicology expert, discusses her journey to the Gulf of Mexico aboard the research ship Odyssey and the latest findings on the environmental impact of last year’s oil spill in the region.
Ms. Wise’s lecture, “Gulf of Mexico Voyage of the Odyssey: The Impact of the Oil Crisis on Health Using Whales as an Indicator Species,” will be held 12:15 p.m. to 1:20 p.m. in room 123 of Charles Dana Hall, 169 University Avenue, Bridgeport.
The presentation is free and open to the public.
Ms. Wise is Director of Cytogenetics and Chromosome Instability at the Wise Laboratory of Environmental and Genetic Toxicology, at the University of Southern Maine. For the past two summers, she has traveled to the Gulf of Mexico, where she and a team of researchers have studied pollutants’ effect on marine animals, in particular sperm whales and Bryde’s whales (pronounced BROO-duhz).
The team’s observations of Bryde’s whales provide a rare opportunity to learn more about the mammals, about which little is known. Unlike the behemoth sperm whale—a frequent target of whalers and inspiration for Moby Dick—Bryde’s whales lack massive layers of protective blubber that have attracted hunters. They also travel alone or in smaller pods, and only 15 to 20 are known to be in the Gulf of Mexico. Their elusive migrations have made them difficult to study.
Ms. Wise will show images from her trips, and her presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer session.
“This is an interesting seminar because the speaker will present new data as they were collected by their research boat, and their findings are applicable to environmental contamination and its health effects on other marine systems, including Long Island Sound,” said Spiros P. Katsifis, Chairman of the UB biology department.
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