Researcher biography


Bachelor of Science (marine biology),  Texas A&M University at Galveston
Master of Art (conservation biology),  Miami University 

Project title:

Developing a reliable acoustic deterrent signal to reduce migrating Australian humpback whale entanglements 

Project description:

As part of the Cetacean Ecology Group at UQ, my research aims to develop and field-validate an acoustic stimulus that consistently elicits avoidance responses from migrating humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae). This project seeks to mitigate the risk of large whale entanglements in Australia and potentially internationally.

Coastal baleen whale species, like humpbacks, are particularly vulnerable to entanglement in Australia as their migratory routes intersect with fisheries activities and shark-control measures. Although acoustic deterrent devices (ADDs)—commonly known as 'whale pingers'—are frequently employed to reduce entanglements, their effectiveness in situ remains unproven. This research will analyse data from previously conducted behavioural response studies (BRS), including the Behavioural Response of Australian Humpback Whales to Seismic Surveys (BRAHSS) and the Hearing in Humpbacks Acoustic Research Collaboration (HHARC), to inform new whale deterrent signals.  Based on these insights, two candidate signals will be developed and field-tested alongside a commercial whale pinger to assess their efficacy. 


Marine Vertebrate Biology Grants Program (Sea World Foundation and the Winifred Violet Scott Charitable Trust)


Associate Professor Rebecca Dunlop, Professor Michael Node