My name is Dan Odell and I'll be your guide on our field trips to study the dolphins in the Indian River Lagoon on the east coast of Florida. I'm a research biologist for Sea World in Orlando, Florida. My job is to oversee the scientific research and publishing activities of all four of the Sea World parks. My research topics include the biology and ecology of bottlenose dolphins, dwarf and pygmy sperm whales, and the Florida manatee. I'm also acting director of Research for the Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute here in Florida, and I'm the scientific coordinator for the Southeastern United States Marine Mammal Stranding Network.
I grew up in the Finger Lakes region of central New York. While in high school I worked on a farm in the summer and did lots of fishing, hunting, and trapping. We lived on a lake and my father operated a small marina. I spent a lot of time helping him to repair outboard engines.
During college I majored in wildlife biology and I spent my summers working as a biological aide for the U.S. government on the Pribilof Islands in Alaska. I collected data on the northern fur seals that came to the islands to breed. It was quite a culture shock when I flew from the tundra of the Pribilof Islands to graduate school and the freeways, smog, and palm trees of Los Angeles!
After graduate school I took a faculty position at the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. I became involved in the Marine Mammal Stranding Network and started studying manatee biology. I also began to collaborate with people from Sea World in Orlando, Florida, on marine mammal study projects. In 1986 I joined the staff at Sea World. Certainly one of the highlights of my current job was being present when a killer-whale calf was born.
My wife, Terry, and I have three children who are all studying science. Jason is now in the doctoral program in biology at the University of California at Riverside. Jessica is studying biology at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, and is writing her senior thesis on dolphin behavior. Nicole is studying chemistry at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. I'm glad my love of biology has been passed on to my kids. This spring will be very busy for me between travel, graduations, and dolphin field trips!
I have answered many questions about dolphins from students. Read my interview and learn.
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