ology logo
card
099

Howard Rosenbaum

OLogy Series
ologist
card
099

Howard Rosenbaum

OLogy Series
ologist

It's no fluke that Howard Rosenbaum is wild about whales -- especially the endangered right whales and humpback whales. He's a conservation biologist specializing in genetics who deeply cares about the future of these marvelous mammals. Howard often travels to Madagascar to study humpbacks. By using observation, photography, and DNA analysis, he learns how these whales are related.

No, All Whales Don't Look Alike!
Howard Rosenbaum likes to travel to places where whales gather, like Antongil Bay, off the coast of Madagascar. There, he studies endangered whales like the humpbacks as they migrate from their summer feeding grounds in the Antarctic to their winter feeding grounds in the warm waters of Antongil Bay. Howard and his team have identified over 800 individual whales! All whales may look the same to you and me, but not to Howard. He can tell them apart by looking at their flukes, another name for a whale's tail. Every whale's tail has a unique shape and set of markings, kind of like a fingerprint. Howard hopes to use all of the important information that he gathers in the field to learn how the whales are related and to monitor their populations over many years.

How does biologist Howard Rosenbaum collect a DNA sample from a humpback whale?

He uses an arrow to take a skin sample.

He collects water that squirts out the whale's blowhole.

Imitating the humpback language, he asks, "Some DNA, please."

Are you right?

Correct!

Howard uses a crossbow and arrow to collect tissue samples from humpbacks. This may sound painful, but it doesn't hurt the whale a bit. He then studies the DNA from this tissue in the lab.

Howard Rosenbaum

There may be only a few hundred right whales at best left in the North Pacific, so preserving this endangered species should be a top priority.

Howard Rosenbaum
Date of Birth: August 12, 1968
Hometown: Great Neck, NY
Position: conservation biologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society and the American Museum of Natural History
Education: B.S., Yale University; Ph.D., Hamilton
College
Known for: studies of humpback whale and right whale populations

Image credits: courtesy of Peter J. Ersts Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, AMNH.