In 1964, Thomas Poulter started the Biological Sonar Laboratory at SRI, the first laboratory in North America devoted to studying the behavior and physiology of sea mammals. The lab investigated the ability of seals and sea lions to detect and discriminate between objects under water. Poulter was among the first to assert that these mammals could use echolocation to locate food.
Poulter’s research extended to whale vocalizations, and his collaborative research recommendations led to the conservation of the Año Nuevo marine area.
Prior to his work at SRI, Poulter was second in command in Adm. Byrd’s 1933 expedition to Antarctica and was leader of the mission that rescued Byrd near the South Pole.