Category Archives: Uncategorized

New job! Joining the team at SRUC

An exciting (but slightly outdated) announcement! At the start of summer, I successfully interviewed for a new role as a Lecturer in Ecology at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC). I’m now six weeks into my new job and loving it!

A big part of the appeal is that the staff have all been so lovely and helpful. From lunchtime gossips to helping set up classrooms to meme-filled Whatsapp group chats, I feel like I’ve struck lucky with all my new colleagues! The work itself is also an exciting change – smaller class sizes mean I can give my students more attention and support, which is super rewarding. I am teaching a more diverse range of subjects, including venturing back into the terrestrial realm! Requires a bit of extra reading, but this already paying off through interesting facts and new research ideas.

Sarah and Monty looking for seals in Scotland

Of course, a big side bonus of this new job is the location… Not only back in Scotland, but back to my hometown of Aberdeen! It is wonderful to be back near family and friends, especially after the lockdown restrictions of the past 1.5 years. We’ve moved to a small village on the coast, and Monty dog is loving his daily beach walks! We’ve been practicing his “watch” command in anticipation of new wildlife-watching opportunities! We’ll make a marine biologist of him yet!

So whilst it was sad to leave Portsmouth, we are very much looking forward to new adventures up north!


Public Perceptions of Marine Conservation

The ocean is increasingly facing threats from human activities, and mitigating these requires the support of the general public. However, many people see little or no connection between their actions and ocean health. It is therefore important to monitor and assess public perceptions of the marine environment, as this will help us understand how we can change them for effective conservation.

Photo by Grafixart_photo Samir BELHAMRA on

Two of my undergraduate students at the University of Portsmouth are studying this topic for their Honours theses. They have created an online survey with questions about marine conservation in general and marine megafauna in particular. Now we are looking for people to complete the survey!

To participate, you must be an adult living in the UK. All answers are anonymous and voluntary, and if at any point you no longer wish to participate then you can simply close the webpage. Your answers will be used to investigate whether any patterns exist in how people perceive the marine environment.

If you would like to participate, please follow this link:

We would also appreciate it if you could share this link far and wide! This will help us to collect a diversity of viewpoints. We will be closing the survey at the end of March.

Living in the Acoustic Environment

Last month, I attended the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) conference in Minnesota. I prepared a conference report for the Journal of Animal Ecology Blog, which I have reposted below.

Animal Ecology in Focus

Our Blog Editor, Dr Sarah Marley, reports back on last month’s Spring Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) in Minnesota, USA. Find out what made it such a successful conference, and why she did not end up being the loner she expected to be…

Last month, several hundred acousticians descended on Minneapolis, Minnesota for the 175th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA). I was among them, attending this conference for the first time. Although I have been conducting research in acoustics for over five years, I still feel very new to this field and was nervous about presenting to ‘hardcore’ acousticians rather than my normal audience of biologists. And, although I was an invited speaker, I did not actually know many people attending this primarily American conference beyond my PhD supervisor and a few Twitter acquaintances. So the 27hr plane ride over from Western Australia…

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Sound Science in the Swan

On Monday, I gave a presentation about dolphin acoustics in the Swan River at a free public seminar called “Sound Science in the Swan“, supported by Acoustics2017, the annual conference of the Australian Acoustical Society.  Over 60 people attended the two-hour seminar, with the audience containing both scientists and members of the public.

The evening kicked off with an introduction by the organiser, Dr Miles Parsons from Centre for Marine Science and Technology (CMST) at Curtin University, who explained what sound is and how animals use it underwater.  I then demonstrated this through my interactive Soundscape Game, where the audience members are each allocated the role of a different underwater sound source and produce them together to create a ‘soundscape’.


Me yelling at some audience members to “make snapping shrimp noises” (Photo: Sylvia Parsons)

Miles then explained more about some of the anthropogenic (man-made) sound sources in the Swan River system, including things like vessels, pile-driving, airplanes, drones, and even human swimmers!


Miles presenting experiments examining sounds produced by swimmers (Photo: Sylvia Parsons)

This was followed by Dr Iain Parnum (also of CMST) who explained his work using underwater acoustics for the purposes of habitat mapping within the Swan.


Iain using acoustics to ‘see’ underwater (Photo: Sylvia Parsons)

After the break, I was up to present about dolphins!  I started with examples of the different sounds dolphins make and why underwater sound is vital for their survival.  I then applied this to the Swan River, by showing it as a busy, noisy environment – and therefore rather challenging for dolphins!  However, as I explained, my research shows that the dolphins don’t necessarily leave noisy areas, although they might have strategies for dealing with them.


Me showing some theodolite tracks of dolphins and vessels within the Swan River (Photo: Sylvia Parsons)

I was then able to present some research on dolphins and pile-driving, on behalf of my PhD supervisor Dr Chandra Salgado Kent, who was unable to attend that evening.

The evening finished back with Miles, who spoke about mulloway and some of the research surrounding the calls made by these fish.

A thoroughly enjoyable way to spend an evening!

Full Disclosure

Sorry, this isn’t a post divulging all my anecdotes and secrets!  It’s a quick note to point you in the direction of a new page created on this site, titled “CV“.

Here you can find links to my various online profiles listing my work / research history.  Alternatively, you can check out the slightly longer versions by viewing my full CV and Curtin University student capability statement.

Happy browsing!

Roebuck Bay - Sarah on Teena B

Filming snubfin dolphins in Roebuck Bay (Photo:  Joshua Smith)