Prestigious medal for Ryan for his research on whales

Posted on October 04, 2012

He is currently busy with his PhD in Zoology at UP. Ryan has recently returned from his second overwintering expedition as a field assistant/marine mammal biologist (13 months at Marion Island). “On the first expedition from March 2008 to May 2009 I collected data on killer whales, which formed the basis of my MSc. The work focused mainly on building a photographic catalogue of the killer whales at the island which I could use to calculate the number of whales at the island. Along with observations of predation events I could then make some rough calculations as to whether the killer whales could significantly affect populations of their prey: seals and penguins,” Ryan explained.

“On the second expedition from March 2011 to May 2012 I collected data for my PhD, supervised by Dr Nico de Bruyn at the Mammal Research Institute (MRI), which is also on killer whales at the island. The PhD will build on my earlier work and will investigate the social structure of the killer whales there, their offshore movements and their foraging ecology.  For the latter two aspects I was remotely (using a crossbow) deploying satellite tags on the whales and taking biopsy samples for stable isotope and fatty acid analyses.”

He aims to complete his PhD in 2014.

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