Walt is an Assistant Professor at the University of Maine's School of Marine Sciences and serves as a Research Scientist at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. Walt came to UMaine and GMRI after completing his Ph.D. at the University of New Hampshire in May 2010. Since then, Walt has been studying the energetic condition, spatial distribution, foraging ecology, age and growth of bluefin tuna and broadbill swordfish in the Atlantic. A key finding from Walt's dissertation was that tuna in the Gulf of Maine were skinnier during the 1990's.
Walt's current research focuses on understanding how bluefin tuna and other highly migratory species use habitats across the North Atlantic and how they feed and grow. He works with a network of commercial and recreational fishermen in the US and Canada. These fishermen, who include sport fishermen and commercial fishermen on small and large boats, voluntarily provide information on the fish that they catch (where, when, and how big), and many of them return samples to Walt and his team of students. For each fish that is provided to us, his crew extracts its otoliths (small bones in the head) which record information about the fish’s life, much like growth rings record information about the life of a tree. Otoliths, together with other tissue samples provide information on where the fish was born, its health, and what it has been eating
Primary Research Interests
My broad research interests involve the ecology of large pelagic species (tunas, swordfish, sharks), especially how changes in environmental conditions impact their energetic condition, growth patterns, reproduction and spatial distribution.
Ph.D. College of Biological Sciences, University of New Hampshire
M.S. College of Biological Sciences, University of New Hampshire
B.S. College of Natural Resources, University of Maine, Orono