My first major research study was aimed at describing the fine-scale habitat use of the North Pacific right whale using satellite-monitored bio-loggers. As I developed a deeper understanding of bio-logging technology and satellite data manipulation, it became clear that I wanted to focus on using satellite telemetry data to describe marine mammal ecology. In 2009, I began leading my own telemetry-based studies designed to assess fine-scale movement of humpback whales in the West Indies and the North Pacific. I based a significant portion of my graduate work on these projects and received my Ph.D. from the University of Paris in 2013. Since that time, my overarching research interests revolve around telemetry-based bio-logging research and development, with emphasis on describing marine mammal behavior within protected areas and regions of high human impact.
The capacity to remotely monitor fine-scale animal behavior and movement has significantly enhanced our ability to study and manage populations. Recent technological advances in bio-logger design, electronics, deployment methods, and satellite network coverage suggest that bio-logging research will continue to expand across all marine mammal populations. Moving forward, I plan to focus on using data derived from bio-loggers to further describe the physical, oceanographic, and behavioral factors that influence marine mammal habitat use. Results will be used to create effective global conservation and management strategies for marine mammals.
In addition to behavior and movement studies, I will continue to collaborate and ultimately expand upon projects that examine the long-term physiological impacts of bio-logger deployment on large whales and the overall performance of various bio-logger designs. The need for improved instrument design and engineering has been recognized by the International Whaling Committee and the Office of Naval Research and should be integrated into bio-logging studies to the fullest extent possible. For example, I recently submitted a proposal to assess the factors effecting bio-logger duration on humpback whales. If funded, this study would inform future bio-logger designs and deployment methods and would be a significant contribution toward an IWC-sponsored Best Practices Guideline for Cetacean Tagging.