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#2: Drones, Brains and Robo Dolphins

In this episode, Lauren talks about dolphin brains, drone research, and robo dolphins with comparative biologist Dr. Jason Bruck. Jason studies cognition in bottlenose dolphins and hopes that his research will help scientists answer some of the many questions we still have about whales, porpoises and dolphins.


Cetaceans are difficult to study, and dolphin researcher Dr. Jason Bruck can attest to that. He studies cognition in bottlenose dolphins and is part of a team that develops innovative research tools that he hopes will help conserve whales, porpoises and dolphins around the world. In this interview, he reveals what got him into studying marine mammals, and talks about the latest research he is involved with.

References & Further Reading

Comprehensive article covering Jason’s drone project – Link

Comparative Biology definition – Link

Jason Bruck’s paper on ground squirrels – Bruck, J.N. and Mateo, J.M. 2010. How habitat features shape ground squirrel (Urocitellus beldingi) navigation. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 124(2): 176-186.

Article that covers Jason’s cognition research (signature whistles) – Link

YouTube video of visual range of bottlenose dolphins, dolphin quest Bermuda – Link

Impact of naval sonar on cetaceans – Link

Study on anthropogenic noise and marine mammals – Link

It costs one penny per american to fun the Marine Mammal Commission – in contrast 24 cents per dollar goes to the military (in a 2018 reference):
Link Article Infographic

Size of blue whales – Link
Average length is 90-100 feet or *average loaded school bus weighs 17 tons. Total body weight average for a blue whale is 330,000 lbs, so 1 blue whale could weight the same as 9.7 average loaded school buses. The largest blue whales could possibly eat 6 tons of krill per day (thats more than the weight of an ambulance) per day! Each krill weighs about 0.07 ounces, so it would take about 250 krill to weigh 1 pound or about 505 krill in 1 kg.

Height of a blue whale blow – Link

Height of a harbour porpoise blow – rough estimate, private communication with Dr. Anna Hall

Episode Credits

Host & Executive Producer: Lauren Hartling
Guest: Dr. Jason Bruck
Associate Producer: Derek Jang
Audio Engineering & Editing: Marcus Wernicke

Theme Song: Black Rhomb - River of Time (under license)
Additional Music: RimsyMusic - Watching the Stars (under license)

Sound Effects:
Dolphin echolocation and communication sounds under license from
Underwater ambient noise by DCSFX (Public Domain), via
Hydrophone recording of a small boat passing by klankbeeld (CC by attribution license), via
Hydrophone recording of a ship's propeller by blaukreuz (CC 0 license), via
Recording of classroom activity by abcopen (CC non-commercial license), via
Other effects under license from soundsnap, Ojoo Limited