Celebrating 40 Years

Public Lectures

As part of the celebrations to mark 40 years since the creation of the Sea Mammal Research Unit we are presenting two public, lunchtime lectures by eminent marine scientists at the Byre Theatre in St Andrews.

The first of these lectures is entitled “Data from the Deep – when deep diving seals help us to observe rapidly changing oceans” and will be given by Professor Christophe Guinet from 1 – 2 pm on the 27th of June at the Byre Theatre. He will be giving a fascinating look into the life a deep diving seals and explaining how data from non-invasive tags on these seals has given huge insights not only into seal behaviour, but also into the quality of our oceans and ultimately climate change. There will be an opportunity to ask questions and also to see some of the current work done by SMRU researchers.

Please put the date in your diaries and come along!


The second talk, by Phil Clapham from the National Marine Mammal Laboratory in Seattle, will take place at the same time on October 11th this year, with the title to be announced nearer the time.

A bit about the speakers

Christophe Guinet *

Christophe Guinet is the Deputy Director of the Centre d’Etudes Biologiques de Chizé, France. Working in the Equipe Prédateurs Marins, his research program focuses on the study 1) of the effect of observed (or simulated) oceanographic conditions and their variations on acquisition strategies (distribution at sea and fishing efficiency) and 2) allocation of these resources in the reproduction and demographic performance of top marine predators, and 3) bioaccumulation of oceanographic data through marine mammals. At present Christophe’s study models are cetaceans (whales, orcas) and pinnipeds (Antarctic and sub-Antarctic fur seals, elephant seals), and the work is carried out mainly in the Southern Ocean and Mediterranean.

Christophe’s current research themes and projects are:

  • Distribution of marine predators as a function of oceanographic parameters: scale effects
  • Ecology, fishing performance and maternal investment of sub-Antarctic and Antarctic pinnipeds
  • Conservation of marine ecosystems, influence of human activities, including fisheries, maritime traffic on cetacean populations (killer whales, fin whales)
  • Bio-acquisition of temperature profiles and salinity


Phil Clapham**

Dr Phil Clapham directs the Cetacean Assessment and Ecology Program at the NOAA’s Marine Mammal Laboratory in Seattle, where he oversees a staff of 27 scientists studying cetacean species ranging from harbour porpoise to blue whales; his own primary research interests relate to the population biology, behavioural ecology and conservation management of large whales.

Prior to his current position, he directed large whale research at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.  He remains a Research Associate with the Smithsonian Institution (National Museum of Natural History) in Washington DC, and for many years he directed a long-term study of individually identified humpback whales in the Gulf of Maine.

Phil holds a Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Aberdeen (with one Philip Hammond as advisor!), and conducted post-doctoral work in genetics.  Over the past thirty years, he has advised several governments and other bodies on whale research and conservation.  He is a former member of the Board of Governors of the Society for Marine Mammalogy, a founding member of the South Pacific Whale Research Consortium, and since 1997 has been on the U.S. delegation to the International Whaling Commission’s Scientific Committee.  In 2016, Phil was chosen to present the Revelle Commemorative Lecture at the National Academy of Sciences.  He has also served as an editor or associate editor for several scientific journals, including currently for the Royal Society of London’s online journal Open Science.  He has published more than 170 peer-reviewed papers on whales and other cetaceans, as well as five books, and he is a novelist on the side.

*information from the Centre d’Etudes Biologiques de Chizé webpages.

**information from the Alaska Fisheries Science Center webpages.