Most of the research that has been done on the dolphins inhabiting the waters of Mississippi has been sponsored by IMMS. Some of the projects funded by IMMS in the past have included:
Aerial and boat assessments of population dynamics of wild bottlenose dolphins in the north central Gulf of Mexico
Medical studies that have contributed to our understanding of the etiology and treatment of certain diseases of dolphins
Behavioral studies that have utilized the unique opportunity to examine dolphins in a controlled environment. This research places an emphasis on understanding how the observed behaviors can be applied to better manage populations in the wild.
Research plays a major role in public aquariums, oceanariums, and marine parks. Because these venues are among the few places where marine mammals can be closely observed, the research conducted at these facilities is the source of much of the scientific knowledge that is currently available on dolphins. Studying whales and dolphins under controlled conditions has also made it possible to learn more about their physiology such as how their senses work, how they echolocate, how they dive, and how they interact with one another. Information like this will undoubtedly prove to be invaluable in understanding and preserving the wild populations.
IMMS has contributed to marine mammal research and conservation for many years, and is part of the National Marine Mammal Stranding Network. By responding to sick and injured marine mammals, our staff is able to rehabilitate the animals and learn from them at the same time.
One of the primary roles of IMMS is assisting graduate and Ph.D. students with the opportunity to study marine mammals in a controlled environment. Past projects have included:
Investigating the communicative capacities of dolphins.
Investigating dolphin and sea lion self-awareness.
Investigating social development and social interaction in bottlenose dolphins.
Comparing the capacity for relational learning in various species.