• Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) in the Sea of Cortez, California

About Caroline Weir

Caroline Weir
Marine Mammal Scientist

SPECIALIST TOPICS:  cetacean identification / visual surveys / Atlantic humpback dolphins / white-beaked dolphins / Angola and the Gulf of Guinea / sea turtle identification

I am a marine mammal scientist who has conducted visual and acoustic studies of free-ranging cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) since 1995. My research interests focus primarily on the distribution and ecology of cetacean communities, but additionally include photo-identification work (abundance, movements and social structure), research into cetacean acoustic behaviour, anthropogenic impacts on cetacean species and environmental compliance relating to marine mammals (for example Marine Protected Areas and mitigation guidelines for minimising human impacts). I have carried out marine mammal survey and consultancy work for many organisations including the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Sea Watch Foundation, Scottish Natural Heritage, Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU), SMRU Marine, the University of Aberdeen, Southampton University, Bristol University, Whale and Dolphin Conservation and numerous commercial companies in the marine renewable and oil & gas sectors.

I was educated at Sheffield University (BSc Ecology) and the University of Wales, Bangor (MSc Marine Mammal Science), where my academic studies focussed on the schooling behaviour of cetaceans, classification of bottlenose dolphin vocalisations, and analysis of sperm whale codas from the Gulf of Mexico. In 2011, following eight years of cetacean survey work off the west coast of Africa, I completed my PhD (Ecology) at the University of Aberdeen titled “Ecology and conservation of cetaceans in the waters between Angola and the Gulf of Guinea, with focus on the Atlantic humpback dolphin (Sousa teuszii).” I was an Honorary Research Associate at Aberdeen University from 2011 to 2016. My expertise in Angolan and Gulf of Guinea cetaceans has led to my inclusion in the IUCN Cetacean Specialist Group and the CMS Scientific Council’s Aquatic Mammals Working Group (AMWG).

I have produced a wide range of peer-reviewed scientific papers related to my research interests. I also regularly peer-review papers for a variety of scientific journals, presentations for marine mammal conferences, cetacean-related funding proposals for conservation and governmental funding bodies. I am a member of the Editing Board of the African Journal of Marine Science.

In addition to my academic and consultancy background, I am fortunate to have a genuine passion for marine mammals which influences my other areas of interest including marine wildlife photography, writing magazine articles, training and occasional whale-watch tour guiding.