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MARI302 Biology and Behaviour of Marine Vertebrates

Study of the biology, ecology and behaviour of marine vertebrates (fish, marine reptiles, seabirds and marine mammals), focusing on New Zealand species.

Marine vertebrates are some of the most fascinating and sophisticated animals on the planet. In this paper we consider the vertebrates that have made their living in the sea: starting with fish, marine reptiles and sea birds and ending with marine mammals. For each group we will focus first on biodiversity; explore the physiological, ecological and behavioural solutions they have evolved; and discuss the conservation issues they face in the modern world. We will take time to explore the oddities: for example, fish that use electrical pulses to navigate or have parasitic males whose only function is to fertilise females; seasnakes whose venom is as deadly as that of all but the most dangerous land snakes; sea birds that fly underwater; and whales that make the loudest and most complicated acoustic signals in the animal kingdom.

Paper title Biology and Behaviour of Marine Vertebrates
Paper code MARI302
Subject Marine Science
EFTS 0.1500
Points 18 points
Teaching period First Semester
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,038.45
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $4,492.80

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ZOOL 221
Schedule C
Teaching staff
Course Co-ordinator: Professor Steve Dawson
Text books are not required for this paper.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Ethics, Environmental literacy, Research, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
Students gain an understanding of diversity, form and function in marine vertebrate taxa, physiological and behavioural adaptations to their environment; diversity and ecology of NZ marine vertebrates; and management and conservation issues facing marine vertebrates, both internationally and in NZ. In addition, students improve their skills in problem solving, collaboration and written communication.

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First Semester

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Tuesday 09:00-09:50 9-13, 15-22
Wednesday 09:00-09:50 9-13, 15-16, 18-22


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
A1 Wednesday 14:00-17:50 9-13, 15-16, 18-22
A2 Thursday 14:00-17:50 9-13, 16-22