[MARMAM] PhD Opportunity - Cetacean acoustics - Cape Town South Africa

Simon Elwen simon.elwen at gmail.com
Tue Sep 8 06:10:21 PDT 2015

A PhD position is available to join a project investigating the
environmental factors limiting the ranges of cetaceans around the Western
Cape, South Africa, with implications for climate change. The area lies at
the border between two biogeographic zones with the range limits of 5
species of dolphin occurring within the study area (Indo-Pacific bottlenose
 Indian Ocean humpback, dusky, Heaviside's and common dolphins). In
addition, southern right, Bryde's and humpback whales occur regularly. The
project will be using a range of data sources including citizen science,
historic archives, small boat surveys for photo ID, and Passive Acoustic
Monitoring (PAM).

The PhD project on offer will use the PAM data and involve comparing and
analysing data collected with different acoustic recorders (C-PODs and
Sound Traps). The project will focus on using modelling techniques to
investigate long-term trends in cetacean presence and interaction with
environmental and biological covariates.

Beyond this core question, there is considerable scope to taylor aspects of
the PhD to your interests (or be involved through co-supervision of
lower-level students) with questions focussing on call types and rates for
some poorly described focal species, detection distances, sound scape
modelling, human interaction etc.

Students will be registered through the University of Pretoria but based
predominantly in Cape Town with the Sea Search Africa research group (

We are looking for self motivated and independent students who show
initiative and demonstrate project leadership skills.

Essential skills include:

- Strong analytical background, and experience with acoustic data.

- Familiarity with Matlab and or R  and PamGuard,

- Analysing large and diverse data sets and data modelling.

- Publication focussed and experienced

- Driving license

Preferred skills -
- Small boat work with cetaceans (to join photo-ID surveys)
- SA Class IV diver or ability and desire to achieve such (to assist with
instrument deployments)

The position does have a South African National Research Foundation (NRF)
Grantholder linked bursary but as per NRF guidelines, preference will be
given to South African citizens or permanent residents. Although recent
changes in the exchange rate make the amount seem laughable in USD or GBP,
it is a useful amount of money in South Africa.

Additional remuneration / salary supplementation is available through
various short contract jobs through Sea Search Africa, including a 6 month
acoustic monitoring contract starting ASAP.

Applications and enquiries may be sent to Dr Simon Elwen (
simon.elwen at gmail.com) ASAP. Please include a Cover letter and Curriculum


Simon Elwen

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Simon Elwen Ph.D. Research Fellow at the Mammal Research Institute,
University of Pretoria

Based at Sea Search Africa - 4 Bath Rd ,Muizenberg Cape Town.

Phone: +27 21 788 1206 (Off SA), +27 71 139 5951 (Mob SA), +264 81 421 4968
(Mob Namibia)

Sea Search Africa: www.seasearch.co.za & Namibian Dolphin Project:
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