Hal Whitehead is a University Research Professor in the Department of Biology at Dalhousie University. His research focuses on social organization and cultural transmission in the deep-water whales, but he also works on their ecology, population biology and conservation. Field work is mainly carried out in the North Atlantic (particularly off eastern Canada) and South Pacific oceans from a 12-meter sailing boat.
Hal uses individual-based stochastic computer models to study cultural evolution, gene-culture coevolution and mating strategies.
He has developed statistical tools and software for analyzing vertebrate social systems.
Hal holds a BA in Mathematics, Diploma in Mathematical Statistics, and PhD in Zoology from Cambridge University in England. He coedited Cetacean Societies: Field Studies of Whales and Dolphins (University of Chicago Press; 2000), and has written Sperm Whales; Social Evolution in the Ocean (University of Chicago Press, 2003), Analyzing Animal Societies: Quantitative Methods for Vertebrate Social Analysis (University of Chicago Press, 2008), and, with Luke Rendell, the forthcoming The Cultural Lives of Whales and Dolphins (University of Chicago Press, 2014).
He has served on the IUCN Species Survival Commission Cetacean Specialist Group since 1983, was co-chair of the COSEWIC Marine Mammal SSC between 2001-2004, and received the Marsh Award for Marine and Freshwater Conservation, Zoological Society of London in 2007.