Monday, November 19, 2007

A little about me....................


In 1989, I was awarded my PhD on the behaviour and ecology of bottlenose and humpback dolphins in Moreton Bay, off Brisbane, making me the first Australian to get a PhD by studying living cetaceans. By then, I'd already started on my next project, assessing the effects of the then-new whale watching industry in Hervey Bay. That work provided the primary scientific input for establishing the Hervey Bay Marine Park, the first marine park established to manage commercial whale watching.

The dolphins I studied in my Ph.D. work were affected by fisheries. Trying to understand how we humans affect marine mammals, and helping to mitigate problems that are identified through research, has been the focus of my work since then. While in Australia I worked on humpback and right whales; dugongs; snubfin, humpback and bottlenose dolphins. The work took me from islands a few miles from Papua New Guinea to the desert by the sea at the Head of the Great Australian Bight, and to the edge of the Antarctic pack ice.

But I ended up in a strange employment situation – acting as a tenured faculty member at a University, but employed on short-term teaching contracts. Something had to give. My wife won a great postdoctoral fellowship to work at the Norwegian Polar Institute in Tromsø, and a job came up for a population ecologist to work on seals at another research group in the same town – the choice was clear.

Given Norwegians' fame as marine mammal hunters, this probably seems like a strange move, but I'd worked with Aboriginal people hunting dugongs in northern Australia, so I was under the impression that the job in Norway would involve something similar – using science to work towards ensuring that hunts were sustainable. To my shock, I found myself in a research group where the main interest seemed to be providing scientific backing to the idea that marine mammals should be culled in the name of “Ecosystem-Based Fishery Management”. This site has stories of my time working in that group – so far, on a survey of harp seals, and a “lethal sampling” trip to the ice of east Greenland.

In early 2004, the Norwegian parliament instituted a new policy on managing marine mammals, giving official approval to the idea that ecosystem management is all about culling. I refused as a matter of principle to work on research that would support the policy, and so had no option other than to resign my Principal Scientist job.

We moved to the USA in mid-2004. I've discovered just how costly it is to resign over a matter of principle. Not recommended as a Good Career Move.

For a sense of my academic work, here are some (relatively) recent papers from my areas of interest. I have most of these as pdfs, so if you want one, just shoot me an email:

Marine mammals and “Ecosystem-Based Fishery Management”:

Corkeron, P. J. 2006. Opposing views of the “ecosystem approach” to fisheries management. Conservation Biology 20: 617-619.

Corkeron, P.J. 2004. Fishery Management and Culling. Science. 306:1891.

Whale watching, sustainability and what whales mean to us:

Corkeron, P.J. 2006. How shall we watch whales? pp 161-170 in D.M. Lavigne (ed). Wildlife Conservation in Pursuit of Ecological Sustainability. Proceedings of an International Forum. The International Fund for Animal Welfare, Guelph, Canada and the University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland.

Corkeron, P.J. 2004. Whalewatching, iconography and marine conservation. Conservation Biology. 18: 847-849.

Marine mammals of tropical coasts – conservation biology:

Parra, G.J., Corkeron, P.J. and Marsh H. 2006. Population sizes, site fidelity and residence patterns of Australian snubfin and Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins: implications for conservation. Biological Conservation 129: 167-180.

Parra, G.J., Schick, R., and Corkeron, P.J. 2006. Spatial distribution and environmental correlates of Australian snubfin and Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins. Ecography 29: 1-11.

Chilvers, B.L. Corkeron, P.J. and Puotinin, M.L. 2003. The influence of trawling on the behaviour and spatial distribution of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops aduncus, in Moreton Bay, Australia. Canadian Journal of Zoology. 81: 1947-1955.

Chilvers, B.L. and Corkeron, P.J. 2003. Abundance of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins Tursiops aduncus, off Point Lookout, Australia. Marine Mammal Science. 19: 85-95

Chilvers, B.L. and Corkeron P.J. 2001. Trawling and bottlenose dolphins' social structure. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B. 268:1901-1906.

Marsh H., Eros C., Corkeron P.J. and Breen B. 1999. A conservation strategy for dugongs: implications of Australian research. Marine and Freshwater Research 50:979-990.

Marine mammal acoustics

Risch, D., Clark, C.W., Corkeron, P.J., Elepfandt, A., Kovacs, K.M., Lydersen, C., Stirling, I. and Van Parijs, S.M. 2007. Vocalizations of male bearded seals (Erignathus barbatus) classification and geographical variation. Animal Behaviour. 73:747-762.

Van Opzeeland, I.C., Corkeron, P.J. Leyssen, T., Simila,T., and Van Parijs, S.M. 2005. Acoustic behaviour of Norwegian killer whales, Orcinus orca during carousel and seiner foraging on spring-spawning herring. Aquatic Mammals 31:110-119.

Van Parijs, S.M., Corkeron, P.J., Harvey, J., Hayes, S., Mellinger, D., Rouget, P., Thompson, P.M. Wahlberg, M. and Kovacs, K.M. 2003. Regional patterns in vocalizations of male harbor seals. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 113: 3403-3410.

Van Parijs S.M., Smith, J. and Corkeron. P.J. 2002. Using calls to estimate the abundance of inshore dolphins; a case study with Pacific humpback dolphins, Sousa chinensis. Journal of Applied Ecology. 39: 853-864.

Van Parijs S. and Corkeron P.J. 2001 Boat traffic affects the acoustic behaviour of Pacific humpback dolphins Sousa chinensis. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. 81: 533-538.

Van Parijs S. and Corkeron P.J. 2001. Vocalisations and behaviour of Pacific humpback dolphins, Sousa chinensis. Ethology. 107: 701-716.

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