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

Cetacean research – ecology of whales, dolphins and porpoises

Caroline Weir has been studying free-ranging cetaceans since 1995, when she commenced her research with 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 Falkland Islands, 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 ecological studies of cetaceans in two geographic regions:

The Falkland Islands – While working with Falklands Conservation and a number of scientific project partners, Caroline has initiated the first field studies of the endangered sei whale and novel wintering populations of southern right whales in the Falkland Islands in the south-west Atlantic. The projects have included work on whale distribution, abundance, photo-identification, diet, genetic, acoustics and health. Data are also collected on other cetaceans around the Islands, including local populations of Peale’s dolphins and Commerson’s dolphins.

Angola and the Gulf of Guinea – Caroline’s PhD thesis investigated the ecology of cetacean species inhabiting the Atlantic Ocean waters between the Gulf of Guinea and Angola, including both the oceanic cetacean community and a focus on Atlantic humpback dolphins She has conducted fieldwork on this Critically Endangered species in Angola, Guinea and Senegal, investigating distribution, population size and movements via photo-identification.

In addition to those focal areas, Caroline carries out a wide range of research into the ecology and spatio-temporal distribution of cetaceans and other marine fauna (such as sea turtles and whale sharks), 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.

Caroline has authored or co-authored over 70 peer-reviewed publications in scientific journals, along with multiple conference presentations and technical reports (see publications).

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