I am a cetacean scientist who has conducted visual (from shore, boat and aerial platforms) and acoustic studies of free-ranging whales, dolphins and porpoises since 1995. My research interests focus primarily on the distribution and ecology of cetacean species and communities, through methodologies including distribution and abundance surveys, photo-identification, and faecal and genetic sampling.
My cetacean work began in Scotland in the mid-1990s, including studying harbour porpoises in Shetland and the dolphin populations off Aberdeen. In 2004 I switched focus to the (sub)tropical waters off the west coast of Africa, and particularly the area between Gabon and Angola. In 2011, following eight years of cetacean survey work in that region, 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 continued working off the west coast of Africa until 2015, and carried out some of the first targeted field studies of the critically endangered Atlantic humpback dolphin in Angola, Senegal and Guinea.
Since 2016, my research has switched focus to the cetaceans found in the waters around the remote archipelago of the Falkland Islands in the south-west Atlantic. As a Cetacean Ecologist for the NGO Falklands Conservation, I established and continue to manage research programmes on two baleen whale species found around the Islands – the sei whale and the southern right whale. The work on both species has a strong emphasis on conservation-related science, aimed at monitoring their post-whaling recovery and managing modern threats in the Southern Hemisphere.
I have produced a wide range of peer-reviewed publications related to my research interests, in addition to IUCN Red List assessments, technical reports and conference papers. I also regularly peer-review papers for a variety of scientific journals and am one of the Editorial Board of the African Journal of Marine Science. I am a member of the IUCN Cetacean Specialist Group, the CMS Scientific Council’s Aquatic Mammals Working Group (AMWG), and The Southern Right Whale Consortium. I was one of the three founders of the Consortium for the Conservation of the Atlantic Humpback Dolphin (CCAHD), and remain on the Management Board.
EXPERTISE: distribution and abundance surveys / species identification / Falkland Islands / Angola and the Gulf of Guinea / biopsy sampling / faecal sampling / acoustic monitoring / marine mammal mitigation