Skip to main content


Michael Bittle

Marine mammal detection using passive underwater acoustic smart sensors

Supervisor: Dr Alec Duncan

Michael Caley

Development of a dynamic underwater acoustic communication channel simulator to explore transient wide-band signal distortion with configurable sea surface parameters

Supervisors: Dr Alec Duncan, A/Prof Yue Rong, Alessandro Ghiotto

Michael Caley is currently undertaking a PhD project supervised by Dr Alec Duncan, developing a simulator to generate realistic transient distortion of transmitted underwater acoustic data signals. The focus of the simulation is the real-time transient sound interaction of broad-band acoustic signals with the underside of the moving sea surface. At-sea acoustic channel probing experiments have been conducted in 14m and 50m deep environments over ranges of 100m to 10,000m to assist with evaluation of the simulator performance. The simulator will be used to improve the design of signalling strategies and hardware for point-to-point underwater acoustic data communication systems, including signalling strategies being developed by PhD co-supervisor Dr Yue Rong from the Curtin Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The project is financially supported by an ARC Discovery Grant and L3-Oceania. Mr Alessandro Ghiotto of L3-Oceania is also assisting as PhD associate supervisor.

Claire Charlton

Southern right whale population demographics and recovery in South Australia

Supervisors: Robert McCauley, Chandra Salgado Kent and Robert Brownell (NOAA, University of California Santa Cruz)

Claire Charlton has a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology from James Cook University Townsville and a first class honours from Flinders University South Australia. Claire started her PhD with Curtin University’s Centre for Marine Science and Technology in February 2014 on population demographics and recovery of southern right whales in South Australia. Claire has worked on various marine mammal research projects including cetacean population studies, genetics, photo ID and acoustics. She is the project lead for the long term southern right whale population study in the Great Australian Bight South Australia. Claire has worked in roles with the South Australian State Government and private consultancies, undertaking environmental impact assessments, field monitoring and management planning. Her PhD will use long term photo identification mark recapture dataset to assess life histories of southern right whales in South Australia and assess population demographics within and outside of the Great Australian Bight Marine Reserve to address conservation management questions for the endangered species.

Marta Galindo Romero

Spatial variations in the peak pressure of low frequency impulsive signals propagated in range-dependent environments

Supervisors: AProf Alexander Gavrilov and Dr Alec Duncan

Marta Galindo Romero obtained her BSc in Physics from the University of Murcia, Spain, in 2010, after spending the final year at the University of Birmingham, UK, with an Erasmus grant. The following year she completed her Master’s Degree in Information and Communication Technologies at Technical University of Cartagena, Spain. At the same time, in 2010, she was awarded with an R&D fellowship to research at the Naval and Marine Technological Centre in Spain until 2012. Since 2012 Marta is doing her PhD – Spatial Variations in the Peak Pressure of Low Frequency Impulsive Signals Propagated in Range-Dependent Environments. She aims at studying attenuation of the peak pressure of underwater transient sounds propagated in range dependent environments, with the goal of developing a method to predict the peak pressure as a function of acoustic source parameters, environment and range from the source, or the probability of exceeding a certain threshold, so it can be used in the context of assessment of potential impacts of man-made impulsive underwater noise on marine fauna.

Sven Gastauer

An ecosystem approach, the acoustic assessment of the Northern Demersal Scalefish Fishery Distribution – habitat and abundance

Supervisors: Dr Chandra Salgado Kent, Dr Miles Parsons, Dr Iain Parnum, Dr Sascha Fässler

Research Interests

  • Fisheries acoustics
  • Ecosystem modelling
  • Geostatistics
  • Open-source software development

Sven’s marine science career started after completing a Bsc in Forestry. Stepping out of the woods, he decided to do an internship at the Dutch research institute IMARES. Here, Sven was introduced to fisheries acoustics and went on to do a Msc in Marine Environmental Protection at Bangor University (completed with distinction). Upon graduation Sven was self-employed, prior to be being hired by IMARES as a fisheries acoustician. Here, Sven has been leading several weeks-long research expeditions and diverse research projects in the field of fisheries acoustics, habitat mapping and species distribution/abundance modelling.

Sven is an active member of various ICES working groups (including WGFAST, WGTC, WGIPS) and has participated at multiple ICES workshops, as well as presenting his work at numerous international conferences (such as the ICES Annual Science Conference). During his time at IMARES Sven received, among others, formal training in Stock Assessment and Geostatistics. After having sailed the Northern Seas for 3 years, Sven decided it is time for a climate change and moved all the way to Perth to start a PhD in fisheries acoustics. Outcomes of Sven’s PhD will include target strength estimates of key species occurring in the Northern Demersal Scalefish Fishery (NDSF), habitat maps of the area and a description of the habitat suitability for various species or species groups. Sven’s PhD works towards an improved understanding of the NDSF ecosystem.



Jeonghun (Scott) Ha

Simulation of Ship Under-Keel Clearance in Shallow Water

Supervisor: Dr Tim Gourlay

Research interests

  • Ship hydrodynamics: under-keel clearance, wave-induced motions
  • Port engineering: wave analysis, coastal structures

Jeonghun (Scott) Ha obtained his Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) from Korea Maritime and Ocean University in 2005. From 2005 to 2013 he worked with 3 engineering consultants as a civil engineer in the field of port design and coastal structures. Jeonghun started his Masters at the Centre for Marine Science and Technology (CMST) at Curtin University in January 2015 on ship under-keel clearance in port approach channels and he upgraded to Ph.D. research in 2016. His Ph.D. will make a contribution toward a better understanding of ship motions in shallow water and bring further practical support to under-keel clearance management in ports.


Capri-Dawn Beck

Working towards understanding the calling behaviour of the eastern Indian Ocean Pygmy Blue Whale and how their calling can be used to census the population

Supervisors: A/Prof Robert McCauley and A/Prof Alexander Gavrilov

I graduated a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology and Zoology at the University of Western Australia in 2011. I completed an honours in Marine Science at the University of Western Australia in 2013. My research was carried out in conjunction with Fisheries WA with a focus on fish behaviour and ecology, and the importance of the mangrove-reef connection along the Kimberley coastline. My passion is in the study of marine mammals, with a particular interest in acoustics and calling behaviour. I started my PhD in 2014 studying the calling behaviour of pygmy blue whales and the potential for acoustic detections to be used to census a population. My research focuses on identifying individual variations in song pattern and using arrays of passive acoustic sensors to track animals in the immediate vicinity of the acoustic sensors. This information will be combined with information gathered on the calling behaviour of pygmy blue whales in the Perth canyon to derive an abundance estimate for the population. From my research I hope to define methods for measuring abundance in marine mammal populations from passive acoustic detections alone.

Damien Killeen

Source depth estimation from acoustic intensity vector sensors

Supervisors: Dr Alec Duncan, Dr David Matthews

Matthew Koessler

Sound propagation modelling in marine, range-dependent, acoustic-elastic environments.

Supervisors: Dr Alec Duncan, Dr Alexander Gavrilov

Montserrat Landero

Using underwater acoustic data to predict distribution of demersal fish in North West Australia

Supervisors: Dr Iain Parnum, Dr Chandra Salgado Kent, Dr Miles Parsons, Dr Ben Saunders (Department of Environment and Agriculture)

Montserrat Landero graduated with a degree in Natural Resources Management followed by a Master’s degree in Marine Science. For her Master’s, Montserrat modelled the distribution of manatees living in Mexican waters. The prediction was based on a multivariate model, which included a map of the seagrass distribution derived from satellite imagery.

Montserrat started her PhD at the Centre for Marine Science and Technology of Curtin University in October 2014. Her study is the development of active acoustic and underwater video techniques to model the distribution of demersal fish along the North West coast of Australia. This involves the investigation of parameters that can be derived from an echo-sounder survey as proxies for predicting demersal fish distribution. As well as previously identified proxies, such as depth and derivatives, Montserrat’s study will look at the benefit of using seafloor and water column backscatter in predicting demersal fish distributions. The underwater video data will be used to both develop the models, and to comparatively assess the relationship between the fish biomass detected by an echo-sounder with the one estimated based on stereo-video techniques. Echo-sounders and underwater video are not only cost-effective techniques for studying the marine environment, but are useful tools in the monitoring of Marine Parks where non-take methods are preferred.


Shyam Madhusudhana

Automatic software analysis tools for underwater soundscape measurements

Supervisor: AProf Alexander Gavrilov and Dr Christine Erbe

Shyam Kumar Madhusudhana obtained a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Computer Science & Engineering from Visveswaraya Technological University, Belgaum, India in 2005 and a Master degree in Computer Science from San Diego State University in 2009.

His Masters thesis involved development of an automatic detection-classification system for recognizing blue whale vocalisations in long term underwater acoustic recordings. He has previously worked with Dr Marie Roch (Associate Prof., SDSU) and researchers from Dr John Hildebrand’s whale acoustics group at Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO). From 2006 to 2012, he worked as a researcher/developer at LumenVox LLC, a commercial Automatic Speech Recognition solutions provider. His general research interests are in the areas of pattern recognition and algorithm development, and are predominantly focused on applications in Passive Acoustic Monitoring. His PhD work involves development of software solutions for the automatic characterization of marine soundscapes.

Sarah Marley

Behavioural and acoustic responses of coastal dolphins to noisy environments

Supervisors: Dr Chandra Salgado Kent, Dr Christine Erbe

Sarah Marley began working as a research assistant at CMST in 2010 following a BSc (Hons) Zoology at the University of Aberdeen and a MRes Marine Mammal Science at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. Her main research interests centre around marine mammal behaviour and acoustics, and she has worked on several projects involving blue whales, humpback whales, bottlenose dolphins, and grey seals. Sarah’s PhD project aims to assess how coastal dolphins use their acoustic environment at various locations. Using a combination of visual and acoustic monitoring methods, Sarah can simultaneously record dolphin sounds and vessel noise from acoustic recorders, while also tracking dolphin movements and behaviour from a land-based theodolite station. This will help us to understand aspects of dolphin behaviour in a noisy environment.

Suzanne Mason

Spatial range, social structure and behaviour of ‘resident’ short beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) in Port Phillip, Victoria: Considerations for their future management and conservation

Supervisors: Dr Chandra Salgado Kent, A/Prof Robert McCauley

Suzanne Mason’s marine biology career began while she was working as a Primary School teacher. During the Christmas holiday breaks, Suzanne and her husband, John, would travel to the Hawaiian of island of Maui to assist with the University of Hawaii humpback whale research project. Her love of the research work and shared passion with her research colleagues forced her to make a career changing decision, and in 2004 she returned to Monash University to complete her Bachelor of Science with a Marine and Freshwater ecology major. After completing Honours, where she investigated the spatial distribution of dolphins in Port Phillip during winter, Suzanne was employed on a part-time basis as the Dolphin Research Institute’s Research Officer. During this time she continued to teach secondary Science at the Knox School. In 2010 she left the safety of her teaching career and began her PhD with CMST under the supervision of Dr Chandra Salgado Kent and Assoc. Professor Rob McCauley, along with common dolphin expert Dr Kerstin Bilgmann from Flinders University. Suzanne is investigating the residency status and behaviour of short-beaked common dolphins that can be regularly found along the eastern coastline of Port Phillip. Due to their close proximity to the Port Phillip coast, Suzanne has utilised land-based surveys using a theodolite and the cetacean tracking program VADAR, written by Dr Eric Kniest from the University of Newcastle, to record the dolphins’ behaviour. This has allowed her to record common dolphin behaviour in the absence of a research vessel. She has also completed vessel-based surveys to identify the individuals in the small community and determine their social structure. This information will help inform Victorian wildlife managers of the threats to the community in the hope that they can be reduced.

Jamie McWilliam

Shallow water soundscapes

Supervisors: A/Prof Robert McCauley, A/Prof Christine Erbe, Dr Miles Parsons

Research Interests

  • Marine ecology
  • Marine soundscapes
  • Coral reefs
  • Marine conservation and management
  • Underwater acoustic technology
  • Educational outreach

Jamie McWilliam began his research career at Edinburgh University, Scotland, where he obtained a BSc. (Hons) in Ecology in 2009. This included co-leading an independent research expedition with a team of undergraduate students to Gabon, West Africa, which was responsible for developing his keen interest in field-based research. Taking a position as a field researcher and GIS assistant at the James Hutton Institute was followed by a period of world travel and volunteering for several conservation agencies. Upon return to the UK, Jamie completed a Masters degree in Tropical Coastal Management at Newcastle University, making his transition to the marine world as a marine consultant. In 2013, Jamie started his PhD at the Centre for Marine Science and Technology where he is investigating how coral reefs can be monitored using sound.

Coral reefs face an unpredictable future, in particular the iconic Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Monitoring and managing GBR, the largest living structure on the planet is a huge challenge and consequently we need new cost-effective ways of monitoring this vast natural system.

The aim of Jamie’s research is to investigate and progress the use of sound to monitor coral reef ecosystems. This involves ‘listening’ to the pulse of the reef. Contrary to the ‘silent world’ portrayed by explorer Jacque Costeau, a rich and diverse collection of sounds can be heard beneath the waves. Biological symphonies including dolphins, whales and fish choruses, as well as cyclones, waves and rain and ships collectively make up the marine soundscape.

Marine soundscapes contain huge amounts of detailed information that can help improve our knowledge and understanding of marine ecosystems. Jamie investigates the reef soundscape by placing sound recorders called hydrophones on the seabed. Since 2014, long-term fields sites have been established around Lizard Island in the GBR. These listening stations record sound continuously 24 hours a day so that he is able to look at fine-scale changes in the soundscape.

Jamie has already discovered a number of prominent and interesting fish choruses (fish calling en masse) at specific areas around Lizard Island as well as whale and dolphin activity. What the biological significance of these fish choruses is and why these areas are chosen remains to be fully explained but fish activity is strongly linked to the moon.

By having long-term datasets it is also possible to investigate the impact of large disturbance events, evidence of reef recovery and resilience to further disturbance. Long-term sound recordings allow us to capture natural patterns of variation occurring over large time-scales that can’t feasibly be monitored with traditional monitoring techniques like diver survey.

This information can then be used by managers to inform management programs and plans. With a growth in human activity and industrial development along the GBR, the likelihood of large disturbance events increases. Therefore, soundscape monitoring has become an increasingly important area of research now and in the future.


Angela Recalde Salas

Variability of baleen whales acoustical ecology: implications for optimal monitoring and conservation planning using passive acoustics

Supervisors: Dr Chandra Salgado Kent, Dr Christine Erbe, A/Prof Rob McCauley, Dr Hugh Possingham (CEED-UQ)

Angela Recalde-Salas is a Colombian conservation biologist with a BSc. in Biology from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana and an MSc. in Conservation Biology from the University of Queensland. Angela has worked with marine mammals since 2003, has participated in a variety of projects with whales, dolphins and neotropical river otters and she was part of the development of the Conservation Strategy for the South East Pacific humpback whale population. Her research interests are focused on applied quantitative ecology, conservation, and optimal monitoring and management of marine fauna. She has been a researcher of Fundación Yubarta since 2005 and in 2011 she joined the Center for Marine Science and Technology as a research assistant. Angela is looking at variability of acoustical ecology of baleen whales (blue, humpback and right whales) in different areas in Western Australia and how the information obtained using passive acoustics methods can be used for conservation. She will be specifically looking at estimation of vocalisation rates and how such rates might vary under different environmental, anthropogenic, ecological and behavioural conditions. This information will be then used to estimate the detection probability of baleen whales in different areas under different underwater noise conditions and to develop guidelines and strategies for optimal monitoring and conservation planning using passive acoustics.

Researchgate Profile

Rhianne Ward

Southern right whale (Eubalaena australis) vocalisations, distribution and movement patterns in southern Australian waters.

Supervisor/s: A/Prof Robert McCauley, Dr Iain Parnum and A/Prof Alexander Gavrilov

Rhianne Ward graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology and Zoology from the University of Western Australia in 2011 and Honours in Applied Physics from Curtin University in 2013. Her Honours research focussed on the whistle repertoire and detection range of Bottlenose dolphins in the Fremantle Harbour using underwater passive acoustics. Rhianne became involved in the Southern Right Whale Population Census and Photo ID study at Head of Bight, South Australia in 2013, and is now a research scientist and the acoustics lead of the Great Australian Bight Right Whale Study. Rhianne commenced her PhD with Curtin University’s Centre for Marine Science and Technology in late January 2016.

Her PhD project aims to further our understanding of the endangered and migratory southern right whale by using non-invasive, passive acoustic monitoring to determine their vocal repertoire, establish the social context associated with calls, and determine the distribution and movement patterns of southern right whales in southern Australian waters. Results from this study will contribute significantly to the limited knowledge of southern right whale vocal behaviour, distribution and movement in Australia, and address high priority actions identified in the Commonwealth Management Plan for the Southern Right Whale (2011-2021).

Research Interests

  • Underwater acoustics
  • Cetacean communication


Research Gate:

Project Website:

Project Facebook:


Rebecca Wellard

The bioacoustics of killer whales (Orcinus orca) in Australian waters and the acoustic environment in which they reside

Supervisors: A/Prof Christine Erbe, A/Prof Rob McCauley

Rebecca Wellard obtained her Bachelor of Science from the University of Melbourne and a first class Honours from Monash University, Victoria, researching acoustic communication and anthropogenic impacts on bottlenose dolphins in Victoria. She has over 10 years’ experience with marine megafauna and has been involved in numerous cetacean research projects in Australia and worldwide. Her main research interests are bioacoustics, cognitive behaviour, and applied ecology and conservation. She has worked on projects focusing on genetics, population ecology, bioacoustics and anthropogenic effects on cetaceans. She has extensive field-based experience, including both onshore and offshore, with expertise in visual and acoustic recording, and species identification. Rebecca specializes in bioacoustics and cetacean behaviour, and has broad experience working in various capacities with acoustic labs in Australia and worldwide.

Bec commenced her PhD with Curtin University’s Centre for Marine Science and Technology in February 2015. Her PhD project aims to improve our understanding of the killer whale population in the Australian region by using non-invasive techniques such as mark-recapture photo ID and passive acoustic monitoring. This is the first dedicated study of killer whale acoustics in Australia. Results from this study will provide pertinent data to address the population status of this species and deliver key scientific information, such as population dynamics and critical habitats, for guiding and assisting population management of killer whales found in Australian waters.