The Namibian Dolphin Project | Ruth Leeney

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Ruth Leeney, PI: Public Awareness & Static Acoustics

Ruth is a biologist and training provider, originally from the UK and Ireland but now living in Namibia running Benguela Research and Training. Ruth played a key role in setting up the NDP in 2008 and leads the aspects of our work relating to static acoustic monitoring (CPODs) and sustainable tourism

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Biography

Originally from Ireland and the UK, a love of scuba diving led me to the world of marine biology. I am now based in Cornwall but spend most of my time living out of a bag, a small price to pay for working in interesting places. My recent work has focused on the West Africa region, mainly due to the conservation challenges there, the opportunities to collect new data, involve local people and build capacity, but my love of this region extends to its colourful cultures, people and landscapes.

Professional History

2011-present: Self-employed as consultant and researcher. Projects include EIA work in West Africa, baseline data collection in Senegal and Guinea, North Atlantic right whale ecology (in collaboration with UMass Boston) and environmental impact assessment for marine renewable energy (with Plymouth University).

2011: Post-doctoral researcher, Plymouth University.

2008-2010: Director, Right Whale Aerial Survey Program, Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies, USA.

2008-present: Co-founder of Namibian Dolphin Project. Presently involved in aspects of sustainable tourism and strandings.

2005-2007: Post-doctoral research fellow, University of Exeter, UK. Grey seal, basking shark and cetacean abundance and distribution around Cornwall, UK.

2001-2005: PhD student, University College Dublin, Ireland. Thesis: ‘Critical habitats of a protected species: distribution of harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) in relation to tide, time and boat traffic’.

1994-1998: BSc (Hon) Environmental Biology, University College Dublin, Ireland.

Research Interests

I’m interested in all beasts swimming in the sea! But marine mammals, and especially small cetaceans, are my primary focus. I am passionate about conservation of cetaceans, not only for aesthetic reasons but also because of the role they play as indicator species in marine ecosystems. I have a background in boat and aerial survey techniques and in acoustic monitoring for cetaceans. Issues of human-wildlife conflict in the oceans, such as bycatch and interactions between marine renewables and marine megafauna, are of particular interest to me, as well as socio-economic aspects of conservation and marine tourism. My current work focuses on the West Africa region because it supports a diverse yet scarcely documented marine mammal fauna, which faces growing anthropogenic pressures.

Publications

For a full list of Ruth’s publications follow THIS LINK, publications from Namibia below:

Publications featuring Ruth Leeney