• Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) in the Sea of Cortez, California

Cetacean research – ecology, distribution and photo-identification

Caroline Weir has been researching free-ranging cetaceans since 1995, when she worked on a study of harbour porpoises and other species around the Shetland Islands for the Sea Watch Foundation. She has since carried out cetacean research in a wide range of geographic regions including around the UK and Ireland, the Faroe-Shetland Channel, the Rockall Trough, Iceland, the Bay of Biscay, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. Since 2004 her research has focussed on the tropical cetacean community found along the extensive Atlantic coast of Africa, from the Gulf of Guinea south to Namibia (particularly Angola). Her work on cetaceans includes distribution and abundance surveys using dedicated line transects, platforms of opportunity and passive acoustic monitoring techniques, photo-identification of populations, behavioural focal follows and analysis of vocalisations. Her research activities can be divided into two main areas:

Ecological cetacean research – research into the ecology and spatio-temporal distribution of cetaceans and other marine fauna, with the aim of providing baseline data on occurrence and habitat preferences that can be directly applied to species conservation and management, and to the establishment of protected areas. Particular focus has been on research into the distribution and habitat of cetaceans and other fauna inhabiting the eastern tropical Atlantic along the west coast of Africa.

Mitigation projects – research into the mitigation of anthropogenic impacts on marine mammals, with the aim of protecting them from significant disturbance or harm from human activities.

Caroline’s PhD thesis investigated the ecology of cetacean species inhabiting the waters between the Gulf of Guinea and Angola, focusing on the conservation, ecology and acoustics of the vulnerable Atlantic humpback dolphin. She has authored or co-authored over 35 peer-reviewed publications in scientific journals, along with multiple conference presentations and reports (see Publications).

Please follow the links below to find out more about a selection of Caroline’s main cetacean research interests: