Sophie Smith

In 2021 I graduated with a first-class honours in Marine Biology BSc (HONS) from the University of Portsmouth. My thesis involved investigating the ‘Spatio-temporal patterns of harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) occurrence in Jersey, British Isles’ supervised by Dr Sarah Marley and supported by the Government of Jersey.

After graduation I acquired multiple internship positions specialising within marine mammal research. The most recent was the role of a ‘Whale Researcher and Acoustic Analysts’ for the British Antarctic Survey, supervised by Dr Jennifer Jackson and Dr Sarah Marley. I participated in manually reviewing sound recordings where I identified abiotic, biotic, and anthropogenic sound sources to support research projects investigating aspects such as the South Georgia soundscape, sound source occurrence, and temporal patterns of whale presence, along with laying important groundwork for the future development of new detection software by providing an annotated dataset to use in algorithm training and testing.

Additionally, I previously obtained the role as a ‘Field Marine Mammal Researcher’ for AIMM. It involved the research or marine mammals in their natural environment in Portuguese waters. I participated in dedicated boat trips that required good observation skills, collection of data (e.g. behaviour, group composition, GPS position, weather conditions, reaction of the animals to the boats around). Participate in photo identification work and preliminary data analysis of the data collected. This data collection has helped with understanding, improving, and sustaining the conservation efforts in Portugal for marine mammals.

I am studying a PhD at the University of Highland and Islands (Shetland) supervised by Dr Rachel Shucksmith, Dr Lauren McWhinnie and Dr Ben Wilson.

Investigating methods for a multi-faceted approach to determine distribution and habitat use of harbour porpoise to inform management

PhD aim:

  • To investigate a multi-method monitoring approach through visuals, digital imagery and acoustics for monitoring harbour porpoise populations around Shetland to develop and manage conservation strategies.

PhD objectives:

  • To examine harbour porpoise spatial occurrence around Shetland
  • To examine harbour porpoise long-term and short-term temporal occurrence around Shetland
  • To examine harbour porpoise fine scale behaviour/habitat use
  • To investigate costal pressures on harbour porpoise populations

Contact details:

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @sophieafsmith96