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Anatomy of a killer whale predation event, Maryland

Summary / Description


Our team is doing an extensive analysis of data gleaned from literature regarding killer whale predation on marine mammal prey.  The goal is to better understand the role of killer whales as successful apex predators, in terms what is the cost of hunting or failure to capture prey. The overall purpose is to investigate the link between killer whale social frameworks, individual fitness, and their ability to influence ecosystem structure and function.

As a member of our team, you’ll help us:

  1. Review every killer whale article involving predation attempts/captures of marine mammal prey (primarily whales, dolphins, and pinnipeds)
  2. Complete an extensive spreadsheet of data fields that include for example, killer whale  attack group sizes, attack area, # of predation attempts, outcomes – failures, successes, mixed outcomes; prey species and group size, attack depths, KW pod composition, and prey type- calf, adult, juvenile, female.
  3. Prepare datasheet for subsequent statistical analysis
  4. Summarize results and help in preparation of manuscript.

Skills Required


  1. Ability to carefully review journal articles, book chapters, and reports and synthesize information into spreadsheets
  2. Detail oriented, organized, and methodical
  3. Understanding of fundamental concepts of animal behavior and ecology
  4. Responsive to emails and assignments. Good writing skills.
  5. Knowledge of MS Excel or databases, and statistical tools (optional)

Other Information

Internship Location: NMFS Office of Science and Technology, NOAA HQ, Silver Spring, MD

Intern Supervisor: Mridula Srinivasan / Number of slots available: 1

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