Current Research

Cetaceans

Whales, dolphins and porpoises (‘cetaceans’) are widespread throughout the oceans. However, there is still much to be learnt about their distribution, occurrence, and ecology. Cetaceans spend the majority of their lives beneath the surface and are wide-ranging animals. Studying them therefore requires a large collaborative effort and a combination of research techniques. For example, surveys from land, vessels and air; visual and acoustic monitoring; professional and citizen scientists.  I am currently involved in various cetacean research projects based in Europe, Australasia, and East Africa.

Collaborators:

Chris Burton – Western Whale Research

Dr Ben Drakeford – University of Portsmouth

Professor Christine Erbe – Curtin University

Jersey Government

Organisation Cetacea (ORCA)

Dr Jonathan Potts – University of Portsmouth

Angela Recalde – Curtin University

Nick Riddoch – NRG Marine Consultants

Dr Chandra Salgado Kent – Edith Cowan University

Dr Holly Smith – Department of Biodiversity and Conservation (Western Australia)

Dr Deb Thiele – Department of Biodiversity and Conservation (Western Australia)

Dr Kelly Waples – Department of Biodiversity and Conservation (Western Australia)

Students:

Stephanie Hollanda – MSc

Diana Rocha – PhD


Elasmobranchs

Sharks, rays and skates (‘elasmobranchs’) are found around the UK. I am currently developing projects to investigate elasmobranch species diversity, occurrence, and biology.

Collaborators:

Jersey Government


Megafauna Movement

Marine megafauna such as cetaceans, pinnipeds, elasmobranchs, and seabirds can undertake extremely long movements across the oceans. This may result in overlap with human activities, such as shipping. I am currently assisting the Marine Megafauna Movement Analytical Program (MMMAP).

Collaborators:

Dr Ana Sequeira – University of Western Australia


Seals

The Solent is a stretch of water that separates the Isle of Wight from mainland England. It is used by harbour seals and grey seals for hauling-out, foraging, and (in the case of the former) a pupping. Not much is known about this particular community of seals, but local records indicate that they are increasing in number. We are currently running several projects to investigate population trends, haul-out patterns, behaviour, and human disturbance.

Collaborators:

John Arnott – Chichester Harbour Conservancy

Pete Hughes – Chichester Harbour Conservancy

Sarah Hodgson – Dorset Wildlife Trust

Louise MacCallum – Langstone Harbour Board

Students:

Robyne Castles – BSc Hons

Christian Rivers-Martin – MSc

Joseph Stephens – MSc

Fiona Wood – BSc Hons


Shorebirds

Chichester Harbour in south-east England is an important place for birds. Containing at least nine different habitats, over 55,000 waders and watefowl visit the harbour each year. Since the 1960s, Chichester Harbour Conservancy has been conducting monthly counts across several sections of harbour. This forms part of the national Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) and goes into annual reports collated by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO). We are currently investigating spatial and temporal trends for key species within Chichester Harbour.

Collaborators:

Pete Hughes – Chichester Harbour Conservancy

Students:

Charlie Kulczyk – BSc Hons


Underwater Acoustics

The ocean can be a surprisingly dark place. As a result, many marine animals rely on acoustics to communicate, find food, avoid predators, and sense their environment. This offers an excellent opportunity for scientists to study marine animals by using passive acoustic monitoring to detect their sounds and vocalisations. Soundscape ecology considers the sounds present from animals, the environment, and human activities. We are currently running projects to study soundscapes and animal bioacoustics in the English Channel, Australia and (hopefully) around the world.

Collaborators:

Alex Alley – Pixel Flyer

Professor David Bacon – University of Portsmouth

Chris Burton – Western Whale Research

Professor Christine Erbe – Curtin University

Professor Alex Ford – University of Portsmouth

Dr Ivan Jordanov – University of Portsmouth

Dr Miles Parsons – Australian Institute of Marine Science

Dr Sylvia Parsons – CSIRO

Angela Recalde Salas – Curtin University

Dr Chandra Salgado Kent – Edith Cowan University

Dr Donjoe Shin – University of Portsmouth

RS Aqua

Students:

Lucy Martin – BSc Hons

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