Dr Frances Robertson

2013-11-15 10.48.36

My degrees

BSc (Hons), Zoology (Marine and Fisheries Biology), University of Aberdeen, UK

MRes, Marine and Fisheries Biology, University of Aberdeen, UK

PhD Zoology, University of British Columbia, Canada

What I am now

Postdoc researcher at Simon Fraser University

Email: frances_robertson@sfu.ca             Twitter: @distantfin

My research

I have over a decade of experience in marine mammal research. Much of my research, professional roles and voluntary roles have centered around investigating, monitoring and mitigating the impacts of anthropogenic activities on marine mammals in coastal and offshore marine regions. My doctoral research focused on assessing the impacts of seismic surveys on bowhead whale behaviour and distribution and also allowed me to become experienced in marine mammal aerial surveys and line-transect methods. Through this work I was able to incorporate whale behavioural responses to seismic surveys into spatial models using advanced distance sampling methods, which allowed for a greatly improved understanding of how large baleen whales respond to seismic surveys.  My post-doctoral research is allowing me to apply my skills and experience to the renewable energy sector.

The coastal marine regions of Canada are an excellent source of renewable energy. Tides and currents are predictable in space and time so ideal for generating tidal energy. Coastal areas with strong currents are also popular with marine mammals, often providing good feeding opportunities. However, little is known about how marine mammals will be affected by the presence of tidal energy developments in their habitats and, because marine mammals depend on sound to feed and navigate, the impacts of introduced sound are of particular concern. My post-doc work will investigate how marine mammals respond behaviourally to tidal turbine operational sound. I am conducting this research in collaboration with SMRU Canada and the project has been made possible with funding from Mitacs.

Web links

Personal research page: www.distantfin.net

Co-PI page: www.northeastpacificminke.org