Holly Smith

Home / Our Research / Group Members / Holly Smith

PhD Candidate

Research interests include: estimating the population size and structure of the dolphin population in Bunbury region and surrounds and determining the residency patterns of the population. Identifying critical habitat for dolphins for particular behavioural activity states such as calving, resting and foraging and determine drivers of these including environmental and anthropogenic pressures and potential displacement effects. Determining residency or seasonal movements and influences on these (water temperature, prey availability, depth) and/or anthropogenic drivers (industry, development, vessel traffic). This will assist in determining the long-term viability of the population and the sustainability and management of the tourism industry based on interactions with the population.

Education: Murdoch University Bachelor of Science, First class Honours (Majors Environmental Science and Marine Science)

Thesis Title: Behavioural variation in the Bottlenose dolphin associated with managed eco-tourism interaction, Shark Bay, W.A. Supervisors: Dr Amy Samuels, Chicago Zoological Society; Prof Stuart Bradley, Murdoch University

South West Marine Program Project.

  • Estimate size of the bottlenose dolphin population
  • Determine the age structure of the population
  • Document seasonal residency patterns of dolphins in Koombana Bay, Bunbury Port and adjacent waters
  • Define and characterise the physical properties of critical areas for Bunbury dolphins
  • Investigate the environmental and anthropogenic drivers of residency and habitat utilisation

Project Methodology

The project will bring together two main components:

The benthic habitat types, other relevant physical spatial data layers.
In relation to
Dolphin sightings, behaviour and movements.

This spatio-ecological analysis will determine critical habitats for essential dolphin activity states (determined during boat-based surveys i.e. resting, foraging) observed in particular habitat types. This analysis will be based on proportions of time spent engaged in particular activities in quadrats. Pre-determined threshold values will indicate whether the proportion is significant.

Project Outputs:
Calculated estimate of population size of bottlenose dolphin population
Archived photo catalogue of dolphin population in relational database with spatial capability
Categorised habitat types with map displays of critical habitat areas for dolphin population to be used as strategic planning tool, applicable to other cetacean species

Project findings submitted to peer reviewed journal and presented and defended in conference or symposium forum

Peer Reviewed

Krzyszczyk , E., Kopps , A. M., Bacher , K., Smith , H., Stephens , N., Meighan , N. A. and Mann, J. 2012. A report on six cases of seagrass-associated gastric impaction in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops sp.). Marine Mammal Science. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-7692.2012.00579.x

Smith, H., Samuels, A. and Bradley J.S. 2008. Reducing risky interactions between tourists and free-ranging dolphins (Tursiops sp.) in an artificial feeding program at Monkey Mia, Western Australia. Journal of Tourism Management 29: 994-1001

Allen, S., Smith, H., Waples, K. and Harcourt, R. 2007. The voluntary code of conduct for dolphin watching in Port Stephens, Australia: Is self-regulation an effective management tool? Journal of Cetacean Research & Management 9 (2): 159-166

Conference Proceedings

Smith, H., Waples, K., Mitchell, B. and Allen, S. (2003) Management of the Dolphin Watching Industries In Port Stephens, NSW: A need for Regulation. Australian Marine Sciences Association Conference Proceedings

Smith, H., Poster presented at the Biennial Society of Marine Mammal Conference 2009 on dolphin habitat modelling

Employment History

Department of Environment and Conservation:

      Senior Environmental Officer 2005-2007

Leeuwin Ocean Adventure Foundation Inc: Environmental Program Facilitator 2005-2007

Rottnest Island Authority: Education Officer 2003-2004

Applied Ecology Solutions: Marine Mammal Observer 2003

Centre for Whale Research: Research assistant 2002

DOSBRF Shark Bay Research Foundation: Research assistant 2001

Fisheries Western Australia: Interview Officer 2000-2001

Voluntary Work

Pendoley Consultancy Limited:

      Research Assistant (Flatback turtle monitoring- Barrow Island)

CSIRO Marine Department Benthic Ecology: Voluntary Graduate Fellowship

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service: Macquarie University Research assistant

SA National Parks and Wildlife Service: LaTrobe University Research Assistant (Shore bird survey/seal census)

Coastcare: Coastal dune rehabilitation, Tree planter

Dept Conservation and Land Management: Data collector (Tagging loggerhead turtle population)

Lars Bejder, Dalhousie University: Research Assistant (Dolphin population study, Shark Bay)

Perth Museum Fisheries Department: Assistant technical officer

Underwater World Aquarium: Volunteer

Society of Marine Mammalogy
Wilderness Preservation Society of Australia
Australian Marine Sciences Association
Birds Australia
Western Australia Seabird Rescue
Leeuwin Ocean Adventure Foundation


Dolphins of Monkey Mia – Shark Bay (WA) Research Foundation
Leeuwin Ocean Adventures
Centre for Whale Research (WA)
Australian Seabird Rescue
Birds Australia, Western Australia
Frank O’Connor’s Birding Western Australia
The Society for Marine Mammalogy
Dive Australia, Oceania and Asia Pacific
Australian Marine Sciences Association
Australian Marine Conservation Society
ECOCEAN Whale Shark Photo Identification Library

PhD Candidate (Commenced 29/01/2007)
Murdoch University Cetacean Research Unit (MUCRU)
Centre for Fish and Fisheries Research
Faculty of Sustainability, Environmental and Life Sciences
Murdoch University
South Street, Murdoch, 6150
Western Australia

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.