Interactions between humans and marine species may result in changes to species behavior that can impact ecosystem properties and processes. A goal of my research is to better understand how human activities in the marine environment  (e.g. fishing, SCUBA diving) affect species behavior using field surveys (baited remote underwater video, underwater follows), tracking technology (satellite tags, acoustic telemetry), and big data (automatic identification system global vessel tracking data). I am interested in two primary questions:

RocaPartida_Whaleshark 2.jpg

(1) Do human activities impact the behavior of sharks and other fishes?

Despite rapid growth in the marine tourism sector, the impacts of recreation on the marine environment are generally not well understood. I want to understand how non-consumptive, non-provisioning human impacts affect the behavior of sharks and other fishes, and how exposure to human activities through time may further alter observed behavioral changes. I have used baited remote underwater video surveys (BRUVS) in combination with underwater focal follows and multi-year passive acoustic monitoring to show that over long time scales, SCUBA diving does not result in behavioral impacts to highly mobile reef sharks in a location where fishing is absent. My continued research in this area aims to understand if high intensity human activities alter this result.

(2) Does industrial fishing affect the movement ecology of sharks?  

Industrial fishing is ubiquitous on our global ocean and its impacts are profound. While the removal of species is the most obvious impact of industrial fishing, can fishing also alter the behavior of species underwater? Using satellite tracking data for both sharks and fishing vessels, I am interested in understanding if pelagic shark species alter their behavior in response to industrial fishing.

©Daily Planet, Discovery Canada, aired 7/25/2017 (http://www.discovery.ca/extra/daily-planet)