Mike Castellini ~ Polar Visionary

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Dr. Michael Castellini moved to Alaska in 1989 as the "new marine mammal guy". With a background in diving physiology – he came out of the lab at Scripps that developed the very first dive recorders – his own research working with marine mammals was of particular interest to the state. "There's a triangular focus here," says Mike. "The biology of marine mammals, the public perception of marine mammals, and the condition of the fisheries." Mike's research puts him squarely at the intersection of all three.

"Marine mammal populations are declining. This is a huge concern to many stakeholders, all of whom rely on sound science and collaborative communication across the state."
The population of Steller sea lions has been declining for decades – and Mike has been working on understanding why for almost as long. His work on sea lions and other marine mammals has taken him to the Arctic and Antarctica numerous times – giving him a hard won familiarity with the challenges of working in high latitudes. He has traveled to field sites by float plane, helicopter, ice breaker, Zodiac, skis, snow machine, Boston whaler. He's been run over, squashed and bitten by enormous marine animals. He's eaten seal, whale, blubber – and had seal milk sprayed all over his face. And he has a bluff named after him in Antarctica. He has trained many of the people who now work in natural resources for the state.

Click this image to explore Dr. Castellini's research and collaborative efforts
In his current role of Dean he writes reviews, sits on state and national advisory boards and committees, and international panels. While he misses teaching, one of his greatest joys is being the final signature on every thesis – so he gets to read them all.

Mike's Research