Florida Tech’s Spencer Fire Helps Monitor Seal Health With the Chicago Zoological Society
Spencer Fire’s close encounters with wildlife in far-flung parts of the globe comes with a lofty ambition. The assistant professor of Biological Sciences monitors large mammals such as whales, dolphins and seals when they are healthy to understand what happens when those animals face natural or man-made threats in their environment. Fire is particularly interested in is these animals’ exposure to toxins produced from algae (phytoplankton) blooms, which can be deadly and are not completely understood.
The knowledge Fire and other researchers gain is critical for natural resource managers and wildlife medicine practitioners to help these animals before, during and after an algal bloom arises in the waters which they live to potentially mitigate harm.
Fire’s most recent marine mammal research expedition was to study fur seals in Peru with the Chicago Zoological Society. Over the last 10 years, CZS has sent researchers such as Fire to Punta San Juan, a 133-acre coastal reserve in Peru, to assess sea animal health and create conservation awareness around the region.
The Chicago Tribune chronicled this recent expedition along with stunning photos. Read it here.
Fire took his own photos of the expedition for seal research and was kind enough to share some with us. You can also read about his research closer to home studying dolphin health and environmental risk with the Georgia Aquarium in the Indian River Lagoon, here.