Martin van Aswegen

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I have had the privilege of growing up near a number of marine hotspots in South Africa, New Zealand, Tonga and Australia, increasingly developing a passion for nature-based tourism, scientific communication and more recently, examining the relationship between the spatio-temporal traits of marine megafauna and anthropogenic activity. Another interest involves the foraging ecology and habitat use of megafauna. My goal is to infer the age of free-ranging Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins using remote laser photogrammetry. In addition, I will investigate possible morphological differences between coastal bottlenose dolphin populations in Western Australia.

I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, was educated in New Zealand and Western Australia and completed my B.Sc in Marine Science at Murdoch University, Western Australia. In 2014, I was involved with elasmobranch and marine mammal research in Mossel Bay, South Africa while I have also been assisting on two of MUCRU’s coastal dolphin projects in South Western Australia over the last three years.

The overall aim of my Honours project is to infer the age of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins through the use of remote laser photogrammetry and to investigate morphological differences in coastal bottlenose dolphin populations in Western Australia. Two laser points of known distance apart will be used as a scale reference within photographs of dolphins of all ages, allowing me to measure the length between each dolphin’s blowhole and anterior origin of dorsal fin. In order to validate the accuracy and precision of my measurements, I will quantify the level of error associated with this technique.

The overall objectives of my study are to:

  • Develop growth curves for two well-studied dolphin populations (Bunbury and Shark Bay, Western Australia) using long-term historical sighting and demographic data.
  • Infer the age of individual dolphins from Mandurah, Western Australia, based on a growth curve developed from a nearby, well-studied dolphin population (Bunbury).
  • Investigate morphological differences between coastal bottlenose dolphin populations within Western Australia.
  • Through the use of controlled experimentation and opportunistic post mortem events, identify the sources of, and also quantify the degree of measurement error involved in my research.

Supervisors: Prof. Lars Bejder, Dr. Fredrik Christiansen

July 2016-present: Bachelor of Science Honours in Marine Science, Murdoch University, Australia.

2016: Bachelor of Science in Marine Science, Murdoch University, Australia.

Work Experience

October 2015-present: Dolphin Discovery Centre, Bunbury Western Australia
Marine Biologist

July 2013-present:, Western Australia
Photographer, providing underwater imaging services to organisations and tourism operators

Voluntary Positions

February 2016-present: Murdoch University Cetacean Research Project, Mandurah, Western Australia
Research Assistant, Mandurah Dolphin Research Project

June 2014-present: Murdoch University Cetacean Research Project, Bunbury, Western Australia
Research Assistant, South West Marine Research Program

March 2014-November 2016: Dolphin Discovery Centre, Bunbury, Western Australia
Volunteer Supervisor

Feb 2014-March 2014: Oceans Research, Mossel Bay, South Africa
Research Assistant, projects: White Shark Population & Habitat Use Project, Benthic Shark Ecology, Marine Mammal Habitat Use Study

Martin van Aswegen

Cetacean Research Unit
School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Murdoch University

South Street

Murdoch WA 6150 Australia


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