Nicola Ransome

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PhD Candidate - Researcher

Research Interests

My main interest and passion is in the conservation of large whales and in understanding the impact of anthropogenic activities to coastal populations. My primary research involves investigating these threats to the humpback whales of the Mexican Pacific, particularly in how we can manage and mitigate the impact of vessel collisions to this threatened population. I have been devoted to humpback whale research and ecotourism for over 10 years in Mexico, I am a part of the national humpback whale disentanglement network (RABEN) and for the last three years I have been the owner and operator of a whale research and whale watching company, in an area of Pacific Mexico where cetaceans were previously unstudied.

I am originally from a small seaside town on the east coast of England. I gained a BSc in Zoology from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (UK), and later a MSc in Marine Science and Management from Southern Cross University (Australia). I have worked on various cetacean research projects worldwide, including humpback whale research in Ecuador, Mexico, Mozambique and the Philippines, and cetacean research in Australia, Canada, Peru and the Azores, Portugal.

The Mexican state of Nayarit is an important wintering area for a “Threatened” humpback whale population, with migratory connections to an “Endangered” population. Little is known of the species’ seasonal habitat use, abundance and distribution within the state. In 2014, the local government announced plans for a significant port development in Nayarit accommodating the deepest port entrance in Latin America to dock the world’s largest cargo ships. Ship strike is a global issue for recovering whale populations and this will likely be an emerging issue for humpback whales in Nayarit. This project can help inform planners during the port development phase to minimise ship strike risk to marine wildlife, and provide data of humpback whale habitat use for the regional protection of the species from the growing whale watching industries along the coast.

Supervisors: Dr Josh Smith, Luis Medrano and Prof. Lars Bejder.

June 2017 – Present: Doctor of Philosophy in Marine Science, Murdoch University, Australia.
International Postgraduate Research Scholarship.

Thesis title: “The Spatial Ecology of Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) and Risk of Vessel Collision in Nayarit, Mexico”

2013: MSc in Marine Science and Management (50% Research), Southern Cross University, NSW, Australia

Thesis title: “Anthropogenic Scarring of Humpback Whales of the Mexican Pacific”

2003: BSc with Honours in Zoology, University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK

Honours dissertation title: “Habitat use of red squirrels in Northumbria, UK.

Work Experience

June 2017 – Present: Doctor of Philosophy in Marine Science, Murdoch University, Australia.
International Postgraduate Research Scholarship.

Thesis title: “The Spatial Ecology of Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) and Risk of Vessel Collision in Nayarit, Mexico”

2013: MSc in Marine Science and Management (50% Research), Southern Cross University, NSW, Australia

Thesis title: “Anthropogenic Scarring of Humpback Whales of the Mexican Pacific”

2003: BSc with Honours in Zoology, University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK

Honours dissertation title: “Habitat use of red squirrels in Northumbria, UK.

Voluntary positions

05/2016 – 07/2016, North Coast Cetacean Society, Northern BC, Canada
Research assistant in the Great Bear Rainforest investigating the habitat use, distribution and abundance of fin whales, humpback whales and orca killer whales via land surveys, vessel surveys and acoustic monitoring.

07/2015 – 09/2015 Association of Coastal Conservation of Mozambique, Zavora, Inhambane, Mozambique
Research coordinator for vessel and land surveys researching cetacean diversity and humpback whale abundance, distribution and habitat use on the central coast of Mozambique.

06/10 – 09/10 Research Assistant, FEMM (Fundacion Ecuatoriano de Mamiferos Marinos), Salinas, Santa Elena, Ecuador

Research assistant for vessel based surveys investigating competitive behaviour and surface active groups of humpback whale in Pacific Ecuador.

Nicola Ransome

Cetacean Research Unit
School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Murdoch University
South Street
Murdoch
WA 6250
Australia

Email: nicola.ransome@murdoch.edu.au

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