faculty listing

A Photo of  Michael Castellini

Contact Information

School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences
252 O'Neill
P.O. Box 757220
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Fairbanks, AK 99775-7220
Phone: (907) 474-6825
Fax: (907) 474-7204

Michael Castellini Full Professor

• Marine Biology • Marine Mammals



  • population health of marine mammals
  • harbor seal physiology
  • Antarctic seal diving physiology


  • Ph.D. 1981 Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego (Marine Biology)

Research Overview

Because of the time requirements as SFOS Dean, I have had to retire from the research laboratory and field projects that kept me and my students busy for over 20 years here at UAF. Now, I focus most of my science on panel reviews for agencies, journal editorial boards, board work for funding groups and writing review articles. However, my past students continue to write papers on work that we did while they were at UAF, so those do show up in the literature, too.

While my lab was active, projects focused on many different aspects of marine mammal biology and medicine. Some of these included nutritional physiology of harbor seals and Steller sea lions in Alaska as related to their population declines and to the survival of seal and sea lion pups. Other projects included studies on lipid metabolism in marine mammals, the biochemistry of contaminants, metal chemistry, high pressure physiology and even sleep patterns in seals. These programs were conducted in the field and around the world.

In the last few years, I participated in a large series of public outreach programs discussing climate change, the Arctic and Antarctic and how animals at those locations are critically dependent on sea ice. Most of this outreach has come through the National Science Foundation funded program to Passport To Knowledge entitled “Polar Palooza: Stories from a Changing Planet”. I have included the web site link for them below.

We have also been funded, again through NSF, as a Center for Ocean Science Education Excellence (COSEE). This program brings scientists, the public and school children together in Alaska on the issue of climate change and the impact on our oceans. There are 11 COSEE centers around the country, all with different themes. The Alaska COSEE link is also given below. Please visit it to see the new and exciting directions we are taking with outreach on climate change in Alaska. I am particularly proud of the link showing my with many different collaborators on polar issues in this COSEE project.

I have chaired or co-chaired 16 PhD or MS students and been a committee member on dozens. I no longer have the time that I feel is necessary to dedicate to students as a sole chair, but continue to be on committees. My philosophy has always been that my job is to train students in how to move into science as a career and I have helped them develop degrees that focus on whether the student wishes to work for agencies, universities, private consulting or even, none of the above! Many of my students are now successful faculty, agency scientists, veterinarians, and underwater photographers.

Current Research Projects

  • Center for Ocean Science Education Excellence


  • Interview with Carin Bailey Stephens for the SFOS Newsletter
    From spying on scorpions with a black light to studying two-ton elephant seals with sleep apnea, Mike Castellini has always wanted to know how animals adapt to their environment. One of the preeminent Weddell seal experts in the world and the associate dean of the UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, Dr. Castellini’s life reads like a scientific adventure story.
  • Polar Palooza
    This is the link to the large outreach program dealing with climate change and the poles. Excellent sites within here on education, science and polar exploration including blogs, podcasts,downloadable teaching modules and more!
  • COSEE Alaska features Dr. Castellini
    This is a link to my work through COSEE Alaska and focuses on both COSEE and my work in polar regions.
  • SFOS Dean's News
    Read Mike's Blog here.
  • Download curriculum vita (200 kb PDF)



Castellini, M.A.,Trumble, S.J., Mau, T.L., Yochem, P.K., Stewart, B.S., and M.A.Koski.
Body and blubber measurements of Antarctic pack-ice seals: Implications for the control of body condition and blubber regulation. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology. 82:113-120.2009.

Castellini, M.A. The thermoregulation of marine mammals. Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals. Academic Press. Second Edition. Pages 1166-1171. 2009.

Castellini, M.A., Baskurt, O., Castellini, J.M. and H.J. Meiselman.
Blood rheology in marine mammals. Frontiers in Aquatic Physiology. 1:1-8. 2010.

Castellini, M.A. Pressure tolerance in diving birds and mammals. In: Comparative High Pressure Biology (Sebert, P., ed). Science Publishers, Enfield, NH, USA. Pages 379-398. 2010.

Castellini, M.A. Marine Mammals and Climate Change. In: Cold Adaptation and Climate Change. K. Tanino and K. Storey, eds. CABI international, publishers, Oxford, UK. Pages 131-144. 2012

Selected Publications

Castellini, M.A. History of polar whaling: insights into the physiology of the great whales. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology. 126A:153-159. 2000.

Burns, J.M., J.W. Testa and MA Castellini. Movements and diving behavior of weaned Weddell seal pups. Polar Biology. 21:23-36. 1999.

Burns, J.M., S.J. Trumble, MA Castellini and J.W. Testa. The diet of Weddell seals in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, as determined from scat collections and stable isotope analysis. Polar Biology. 19:272-282. 1998.

Rea, L.D., MA Castellini, B.S. Fadely and T.R. Loughlin. Health status of young Alaska Steller sea lion pups as indicated by blood chemistry and hematology. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology. 120 A: 617-623. 1998.

Zenteno-Savin, T., and MA Castellini. 1998. Changes in the plasma levels of vasoactive hormones during apnea in seals. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology. 119C: 7-12.

Zenteno-Savin, T., MA Castellini. 1998. Plasma angiotensin II, arninine vasopressin and atrial natriuretic peptide in free ranging and captive seals and sea lions. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology. 119C: 1-6.

Burns, J.M., J.F. Schreer and MA Castellini. 1997. Physiological effects on individual dive patterns and foraging strategies in yearling Weddell seals. Canadian Journal of Zoology. 75:1796-1810.

Rea, L.D., Groscolas, R, Mioskowski, E., and M. Castellini. 1997. Changes in plasma fatty acids lipids indicated change in nutritional status in developing Weddell seal pups. Polar Biology. 18:351-357.

Zenteno-Savin, T., MA Castellini, L.D. Rea and B.S. Fadely. 1997. Plasma haptoglobin levels in threatened Alaskan pinniped populations. Journal Wildlife Diseases. 33(1): 64-71.

Castellini, MA and T. Zenteno-Savin. 1997. Heart rate scaling with body mass in pinnipeds. Marine Mammal Science. 13(1): 149-155.

Moss, J.M. and MA Castellini. 1996. Physiological and behavioral determinants of the aerobic dive limit in Weddell seal pups (Leptonychotes weddellii). Journal of Comparative Physiology B. 166:473-483.

Milson, W., M. Castellini, M. Harris, J. Castellini, D. Jones, R. Berger, S. Bahrma, L. Rea and D. Costa. 1996. Effects of hypoxia and hypercapnia on patterns of sleep-associated apnea in elephant seal pups. American Journal of Physiology. R271: R1017-1024.

Castellini, MA 1996. Dreaming about diving: Sleep apnea in seals. News in Physiological Sciences, American Journal of Physiology. 11:208-214.

Castellini in the news

Castellini in Antarctica
A feature with audio from UAF SFOS.

Antarctic Interview
Doug Schneider of Arctic Science Journeys Radio conducted this 14 minute interview with Mike while he was in Antarctica.