Marine mammal research

Massey University scientists are working on all aspects of cetacean biology, ecology, and conservation within and beyond New Zealand waters. Our research has a strong focus on the conservation and management of marine populations, specifically the anthropogenic impacts of tourism, fisheries interactions, and pollution.

Research expertise

Behavioural ecology in marine mammals

This theme investigates spatial and temporal habitat use and activity budgets of marine mammal populations in order to provide conservation management advice. Specific focus is placed on foraging ecology, feeding strategies, breeding behaviours and how they can relate to population parameters.


Human impacts

This theme investigates human impacts that affect marine mammal populations including tourism, pollution & toxicology, fisheries impact – both direct (bycatch) and indirect (resource competition) – aquaculture, coastal habitat modification and ship strike.


Marine mammal biology and life history

This theme investigates biology and life history parameters of New Zealand marine mammal species (and some marine reptiles such as green turtles) including pilot whales, common, dusky, striped and bottlenose dolphins, many large whale species and New Zealand sea lions and fur seals.


Marine mammal conservation-welfare

This theme assesses the interface between animal welfare and conservation biology, addressing the human dynamic of marine mammal interactions via both the natural and social sciences. This theme includes the welfare consequences of human engagement during whale mass strandings and oiled wildlife response.


Marine mammal health

This theme uses pathology, molecular biology, toxicology and microbiology to investigate health of individuals and populations, and to determine the cause of death for stranded animals and those killed due to human interactions.


Research projects

Awards and recognition

Research groups