The Marine Mammal Research Unit (MMRU) is integrated within the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries and works with other departments and institutions, combining specialties in a coordinated effort to provide independent research and advice on matters related to marine mammals. Members investigate interactions between humans and marine mammals, marine mammals as indicators of ecosystem change, and the natural history, biology and conservation of marine mammals.

The multi-disciplinary research program contains four components: field studies, captive animal studies, data analysis and laboratory studies; and is focused on five themes: population dynamics, energetics and physiology, dietary analyses, behavior and ecology, and simulation modeling.

UBC is centered between Alaska and Washington/Oregon in the oceanographic transition zone, and is an ideal place to study and coordinate research on marine mammals. It is also close to other research groups, representative fisheries, and populations of different species of marine mammals. It boasts excellent research facilities and support services.