BRAHSS Personnel

Principal Investigators

Adjunct Professor Douglas H. Cato - Chief Scientist and Principal Investigator

Adjunct Professor Doug Cato, Chief Scientist

Defence Science and Technology Organisation, University of Sydney, Sydney NSW;
Cetacean Ecology and Acoustics Laboratory, School of Veterinary Science, University of Queensland, Brisbane QLD.

Doug Cato has forty years of experience in marine acoustics particularly ambient noise, propagation and source localization, and thirty years' experience in marine bioacoustics, including the effects of noise on marine animals.

His achievements include determining the characteristics of ambient sea noise from physical, biological and shipping sources for the Australian Indo-Pacific region, based on extensive experiments and modelling. He also developed the first comprehensive theory of sound generation by motion of fluid interfaces such as the sea surface that has been verified by measurement. He established the characteristics of the humpback whale song for Australian stocks, the geographical and temporal variation and differences from northern hemisphere songs. He was an architect and a Principal Investigator of the Humpback Whale Acoustic Research Collaboration (HARC).

Dr. Michael Noad - Principal Investigator

Dr. Michael Noad

Cetacean Ecology and Acoustics Laboratory, School of Veterinary Science University of Queensland, Brisbane QLD.

Mike did a degree in veterinary science at the University of Queensland, graduating in 1990. He worked primarily as a small animal vet in the Gold Coast hinterland for 15 months before travelling extensively through Asia and Europe to Britain where he worked as a locum vet for another year.

After returning to Australia in late 1994, Mike started a PhD in 1995 at the University of Sydney, supervised by Prof. Michael Bryden in the Faculty of Veterinary Science, and Dr Doug Cato of the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO). Here he worked on humpback whale acoustic behaviour and began simultaneous visual and acoustic tracking of humpbacks which eventually developed into the HARC project. During this time he was the lead author on a paper published by Nature on the replacement of the east Australian humpback whales' song by one from the western Australian population.

He finished his PhD in 2002 and started work as a post-doctoral research fellow in the School of Life Sciences (now the School of Biological Sciences) at the University of Queensland, switching to a lectureship in the School of Veterinary Science in late 2003. He became a Senior Lecturer in 2009.

Mike's main research interest is the evolution and function of humpback whale song. Related interests include the effects of anthropogenic noise on marine mammals, the evolution and transmission of cultural traits in animals, the population ecology of east Australian and other South Pacific humpback whale populations and the function of social sounds in humpback whales.

Associate Professor Rob McCauley - Principal Investigator

Associate Professor Rob McCauley

Centre for Marine Science and Technology (CMST), Curtin University, WA.

Rob McCauley is full time researcher in Centre for Marine Science and Technology, Curtin University, since 1996. He is currently working on biological sea-noise sources in Australian waters, under Defence, Industry and consultant funding. His major focus of research is biological and ambient sea noise sources in Australian waters, production and transmission of underwater noise, and effects of man-made noise on marine animals.

Prof. McCauley has been working on seismic survey implications since 1992. He has numerous related publications several current seismic projects including investigating transmission of seismic signals and observations and pathological examination of fish exposed to seismic survey signals in the field. In 1996 and 1997 McCauley organised and ran 16 humpback whale BRS experiments in Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia while concurrently running a large field monitoring program around an offshore seismic vessel.

Dr. Rebecca A. Dunlop - Principal Investigator

Dr. Rebecca A. Dunlop

Cetacean Ecology and Acoustics Laboratory, School of Veterinary Science University of Queensland, Brisbane QLD.

Dr. Dunlop has over ten years of research experience including four years of research in physiology (respiratory physiology, hearing physiology, stress physiology and neurophysiology in fish) and over seven years of research in marine mammal population, communication, behaviour and marine bioacoustics.

Rebecca developed the first comprehensive catalogue for humpback whale non-song vocalisations and linked these vocalisations to behavioural context. She has worked on both east coast and west coast Australian humpback whales to develop an accurate census of each population using both land based and aerial surveys. More recently she worked on acoustically surveying beaked whales in the Coral Sea (Australia) and toothed whales off the north coast of Northern Ireland.

Dr. Dunlop is currently working on determining the behavioural and acoustic response of humpback whales to increasing levels of background noise from both anthropogenic (noise from seismic air guns and vessels), wind-generated and biological (noise from other humpback whales) sources.


Dr Hendrik Kniest - Co-investigator

Dr. Hendrik Kniest

School of Engineering, University of Newcastle, Southern Cross University - Centre for Whale Research

Dr. Kniest's current and recent research projects include:

- Real time theodolite tracking of marine mammals: investigation of survey techniques and software for tracking marine mammals in real time. A software package called 'CYCLOPS TRACKER' (now VADAR) has been developed to assist in using precise survey techniques in tracking marine mammals.

- Semi-automatic methods for whale fluke matching. Development of new software (FLUKE MATCHER) to assist in matching of whale fluke photographs. The system involves using photogrammetric techniques to first rectify photographs for scale and rotations, the measurement of numerous feature characteristics and a variety of flexible matching techniques.

Mr. David Paton - Co-investigator

Mr. David Paton

Mangaing Director - Blue Planet Marine

Mr. Paton is an experienced environmental manager and cetacean biologist with over 25 years' experience throughout Australia, the South Pacific, Southern Ocean (Antarctic waters), USA and Canada in marine and terrestrial protected area management, environmental planning and assessment, research and monitoring.

His extensive field experience includes the identification of a diverse range of cetacean species, coordinating whale, dolphin, turtle and sea bird research, monitoring and assessing anthropogenic impacts.

In addition to his role as Co-investigator, Dave also serves as a vessel master on the BRAHSS experiments.

Mr. John Noad - Co-investigator

Mr. John Noad

University of Queensland (Retired)

Mr. Noad has been involved with humpback whale research since the mid-1990s, working on various projects since then including the major HARC projects in 2002 – 2004 and the field season in 2008.

His work in HARC includes:

  • Design, building and running the computer networks used for recording information
  • Some advice on the modifications to software to use the network
  • Design and building various items of equipment used in the project
  • Preparation, testing and maintenance of field equipment, particularly hydrophone buoys, wireless antennas, solar panels etc.
  • Involvement in the planning of project developments
  • Work on developing and testing new networks for more extensive data gathering including connections to vessels

Dr Rob Slade - Co-investigator

Dr. Rob Slade

Operations Manager / Senior Marine Scientist, Blue Planet Marine

Dr Slade has over 30 years experience working as a marine biologist in both academic and industrial settings. Academically, Rob has published in excess of 30 peer-reviewed scientific papers ranging from whale ecology to dugong ecology and population genetics of seals and other organisms. He held a postdoctoral position at the Department of Immunogenetics, Max Planck Institute for Biology, Tübingen, Germany and was the recipient of an ARC Postdoctoral Fellowship. Rob also worked at the Australian Genome Research Facility as the Bioinformatics Officer.

Rob's field experience includes: photo-id, song collection, and tagging of humpback whales; capture, restraint, tagging, health assessment, and aerial surveys of dugongs; blood and lice collection from southern elephant seals; and capture and tagging of leopard sharks. He is an ADAS certified diver and dive supervisor, and holds an unrestricted coxswain's certificate.

As Operations Manager and Senior Marine Scientist with Blue Planet Marine Rob has managed environmental mitigation on seismic surveys, and blasting and dredging programs. He has delivered numerous training modules for large oil and gas projects, is a Chevron-approved trainer, and has written numerous reports and discussion papers for a number of clients. Rob has conducted Environmental Compliance Assessments for marine seismic surveys and compiled numerous reports on their results.

In addition to his role as Co-investigator, Rob also serves as a vessel master on the BRAHSS experiments.

Technical, Research & Support Staff

Auxiliary Staff - 2014 Field Season

Jenny Allen - Acoustics Grant Bender - Safety officer
Louise Bennett - Small boats (tagging, data collection, biopsy collection) Wendy Blanshard - Photographer
Chloë Bodemeaid - Team leader Dave Donnelly - Vessel master, small boat
Rachel Drew - Team leader Aoife Foley - Land coordinator
Linda Garlepp - Team leader John Gibbens - Marine mammal observer
Sue Gibbs - Marine mammal observer (Leader) Emma Gill - Marine mammal observer
Elisa Girola - Acoustics Dan Godoy - Marine mammal observer
Eva Hartvig - Tag technician Amy James - Land coordinator
Michael (Bret) Johns - Land coordinator Ailbhe Kavanagh - Tagger
Corey Lardner - Boat data Pippa Lowe - Team leader
Sue Mason - Party chief Fletcher Mingramm - Tagger
Damien Morales - Assistant party chief Anita Murray - Acoustics coordinator
Anthony Muyt - Vessel master, small boat Rachel (Jones) Myers - Team leader
Andrew Nichols - Vessel master, small boat Carlos Olavarria - Marine mammal observer
Clare Owen - Team leader Kylie Owen - Tagger
Iain Parnum - Sonar Heather Penner - Team leader
Mal Perry - Technician Natalie Schmitt - Marine mammal observer
Heath Storrie - Technician Brett Sutton - Marine mammal observer
Bec Wellard - Marine mammal observer Jennifer Wiggins - Team leader
Mike (Zeus) Williamson - Tagger

Volunteers - 2014 Field Season

Sloane Abraham Nicholas Alcaraz Elise Babbington
Karen Backe Alex Bandurak Lisa Binks
Nina Bircher Anna Bird Mireia Bou
Mitch Burrows Elisa Chillingworth Ana Carolina De Muzio
Vanessa Delnavaz Hazel Doyle Deborah Fernandes
Charlotte Foster Maria Garcia Lisa Gemma
Abi Goulding Lydia Hayward Anna Hunter
Katherine Indeck Bridgette Larsen Amelia Mack
Kady Marino Ellen McArthur Kieranna McCormick
Sarah McMeikin Kate McQueen Lydia Mesquita
Hannah Moloney Tegan Mortimer Sara Niksic
Erin Parsons Alex Pearse Bart Peeters
Daniela Lucia Marie Prömper Lucy Ransome Andy Rogan
Agustina Schiavi Kaitlyn Sephton Charlotte Taplin
Claire Twyman Alice Vincent-Piper Tasha Warren
James Waterman Lisa West Virginie Wyss

Auxiliary Staff - 2013 Field Season

Louise Bennett - Small boats (tagging, data collection, biopsy collection) Aletta Bussenschutt - Small vessels, source vessels observer
Sasha Collecutt - Small boats (data collection) David Donnelly - Vessel master small boat
Aoife Foley - Small boats (data collection) Leila Fouda - Source vessel observer
Emma Gates - Small boats (data collection) Sue Gibbs - Source vessel observations coordinator
Elisa Girola - Small boats (data collection) Sacha Gugenheimer - Party chief, source vessel observer
Eva Hartvig - DTag technician Li-Mi Huang - Shore logistics
Amy James - Small boats (data collection) Capri Jolliffe - Source vessel observer
Ailbhe Kavanagh - Acting trials director, small boats (tagging, data collection, biopsy collection) Andrew Levings - HSE&S officer (from 4 Oct)
Doug Levings - Source vessel observer Sara Marley - Source vessel observer
Sue Mason - Source vessel observer Jamie McWilliam - Source vessel observer
Damien Morales - Party chief, source vessel observer Fletcher Mingramm - Small boats (tagging, data collection, biopsy collection)
Rebecca Oliver - Source vessel observer Mal Perry, HSE&S officer (to 24 Sep) - Technical officer logistics and acoustic loggers
Angela Recalde-Salas - Source vessel observer Louise Smith - Small boats (data collection)
Verity Steptoe - Small boats (tagging, data collection, biopsy collection) Michael Williamson - Data coordinator, small boats (tagging, data collection, biopsy collection)

Auxiliary Staff - 2011 Field Season

Louise Bennett - Hill observation and volunteer coordinator David Donnelly - Vessel master, photography
Ellen Garland - Bioacoustics analysis Sue Gibbs - Observation coordinator on the Whalesong
Elise Godwin - Research assistant Eva Hartvig - DTag technician
Micheline Jenner - Whalesong Trevor Jordan - Technical consultant
Ailbhe Kavanagh - Hill/volunteer coordinator Sue Mason - Party chief
Anita Murray - Acoustics coordinator Kylie Owen - Hill observation coordinator, north
Iain Parnum - Air gun and acoustic logger operations Mal Perry - Airgun technician
Melinda Rekdahl - Vessel coordinator Verity Steptoe - Hill observation and volunteer coordinator
Vanessa Sturrock - Whalesong Pat Ward - Vessel operator
Michael Williamson - Field and technical support

Volunteers - 2011 Field Season

Hayley Atkins Gregory Brazzola Lucy Buckingham
Sarah Buckley Helen Cadwallader Federico Cividini
Sasha Collecutt Ana Crespo Axelle Cruder
Hannah Curtis Thalia de Hass Sharon Drabsch
Rachel Drew Joanna Eames Jaclyn Fowler
Sean Gallangher Harry Garside Alexandra Gärtner Zárate
Ben Humphreys Laura Kavanagh Pippa Low
Amy Macleod Sarah McEwen Madison Miketa
Kalya Miramontes Rachel Myers Kelly O'Loughlin
Clare Owen Hannah Peach Heather Penner
Chris Perry Amanda Prado Louise Smith
David Still Angelico Jose Tiongson Emily Trumbull
Michael van den Bossche Rebecca Wellard Jennifer Wiggins

Auxiliary Staff - 2010 Field Season

Brett Adamson - Master of air gun vessel FV. Ash Dar S. Ms Louise Bennett - Hill observation and volunteer coordinator
Mr Dave Donnelly - Vessel master, photography Ms Ellen Garland - Bioacoustics analysis
Ms Elise Godwin - Research Assistant Trevor Jordan - Technical consultant
Ailbhe Kavanagh - Hill/volunteer coordinator Mr Jody Kreuger - Air gun and acoustic logger operations
Anita Murray - Acoustics coordinator Ms Kylie Owen - Hill observation coordinator, north
Dr Iain Parnum - Air gun and acoustic logger operations Dr Miles Parsons - Air gun and acoustic logger operations
Mal Perry - Airgun technician Ms Pam Quayle - Party chief
Ms Mindi Rekdahl - Vessel coordinator Mr Michael Williamson - Field and technical support

Volunteers - 2010 Field Season

Isabel Baker Ambra Blasi Sabrina Buongiovanna
Paul Causson Drew Cemer Stacey Chilcott
Darren Craig Marie Duffy Patrícia Falcão Bueno
Farnaz Farhang Alexandra Fennell Aoife Foley
Jane Gardiner Linda Garlepp Emma Gates
Kirstie Goodman-Rendall Mirjam Held Amy James
Glenn Jepson Michael (Bret) Johns Tanya Johnston
Corey Lardner Maíta Lisboa de Moura Siobhan Mannion
Sue Mason Rossa Meade Rebecca Oliver
Estênio Paiva Shelly Potter Angela Recaldo
Laia Rojano Briana (Bree) Rooney Maheshe Wadasindhe
Zoe Warner Bec Wellard

Project Management & Support

Ms Edwina Tanner, University of Sydney (2010/11) Jackie Lu, University of Sydney (Support, 2010)
Dr Inke Falkner, University of Sydney (2010/11) Mark Richards, University of Sydney (Support)
Eva Hartvig, University of Sydney (2012/13/14)

Group photos of the 2011 and 2014 field teams

Click a thumbnail to see the full-sized image

Thanks to everyone who took part in the 2010, 2011 and 2013 field seasons. Successful candidates for the coming year's field season (which is taking place at Peregian Beach, Queensland) will be notified in due course. Thanks to all applicants for your interest.