Norwegian Sperm Whale Research Foundation

 

registered at Brønnøysund register as a Non-profit organisation

Meet our main board members:

Dr Tiu Similä

has studied whales in Arctic Norway since 1987. She completed her PhD on behavioural ecology of killer whales in 1997. Her PhD focused on interactions between killer whales and herring in terms of the whales seasonal distribution, habitat use and behaviour. She has done pioneering work in underwater documentation of killer whale feeding behavior, including the technique called «Carousel feeding». She was also part of the first project in the world to satellite tag killer whales in 2000. Tiu is fascinated by the enigmatic male sperm whales which inhabit a deep sea ecosystem which is still poorly understood. She has worked on the depredation behavior since 2016 but is keen on expanding her work to include the diet of male sperm whales in the arctic and how the behavior, seasonal abundance and distribution of prey might affect the seasonal abundance and habitat use of sperm whales. She is an advocate for long-term studies of known individuals (based on photo ID) as this approach allows for a unique insight into the lives of whales. She is also an advocate for satellite telemetry, as this approach allows for detailed understanding of habitat use, migrations and diving behavior.

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Zoë Morange

has a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Ecology from the university of Caen (France) and a Master’s degree in Applied Marine Ecology and Conservation from the IMBRSea international master program. In 2018, during the third semester of her master’s degree, Zoë went to Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) in Ireland to specialize into the marine mammal field where she got to learn about bioacoustics. Since then, she has developed a real passion for it. After completing her master’s thesis in Greece on the impact of noise pollution on vocalizations of short-beaked common dolphins in the Aegean Sea, Zoë came to Northern Norway with the idea to study sperm whales. Since her childhood, she has always been fascinated by the deep seas, ethology and the communication through music and sound. What better than studying sperm whales then, these giant explorers of abyssal lands relying on sound to live. Since 2019, she has been working with a whale-watching company, SeaSafari Andenes, with which she has been collecting photo-ID, behavioural and acoustics data on male sperm whales. She is now planning on starting a PhD on acoustic behaviour of male sperm whales encountered here in Northern Norway and the ones seen down in the Azores. This project will focus on all the types of clicks that male sperm whales produce, especially slow clicks which function is still not fully understood. The aim is to have a better understanding of male sperm whales’ acoustic behaviour and population organization which remain not well known.

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Ronny Gebser

has studied ecology and nature conservation and has been working with whales in Arctic Norway since 2008. Always beeing fascinated by ecology - the interconnectednes of nature, the ecological web of the oceans, he started watching whales in different parts of the globe and working in whale watching in Andenes, Norway.

Since then he has learned how to build up a sperm whale skeleton, developed museum expositions about threats to marine life such as noise pollution and littering, learned the hydrophones and became a whale watching skipper and a lecturer, giving presentations about whales and sperm whales in particular. Particularly their socialy highly evolved societies and all subsequent ethical questions are his main interest.

In 2017 he was part of the team that resumed the work on the local sperm whale ID catalog, based on photos from many years of observations in the area around Andøya, Norway.

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Marten Bril

Chairman, skipper and nature photographer. One of the main contributors to local sperm whale and killer whale ID catalogs. More than 10 years active in the area around Andøya. After coming to Norway in 2004 for nature and wildlife, he started
working for a whale watching company in Vesterålen. In 2011 he switched to Sea Safari Andenes and started there as a skipper and guide. In 2013, he bought most of the shares of the founder and turned the company into whale and bird watching company. Together with his life partner they developed the company into one of the largest (winter) actors of this moment in Vesterålen and Lofoten .Marten manages the company, even now that there is a new co-owner, and
together they work to take the company to a new phase under the name Whale2sea. He is co-initiator of the foundation: Norwegian Sperm Whale Research Foundation which tightly collaborates with Whale2sea.

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Contributing members

Seán O’Callaghan

has been involved in Irish whale and dolphin research since 2016 after spending many years catching glimpses of these animals from clifftops or stranded on beaches. He developed a keen interest in measuring these animals using images while as an intern at the Azores Whale Lab in 2017 which evolved into measuring common and bottlenose dolphins with lasers for his BSc (Hons) in 2018 and ultimately using a drone over Norwegian sperm whales in 2020 with Sea Safari Andenes and the Norwegian Sperm Whale Research Foundation. He has worked with Irish NGO’S and in the marine industry but is most happy working towards uncovering unknowns to help improve our collective knowledge and help protect these enigmatic animals. He has been encapsulated with the iconic sperm whale since a stranding visit and has since opted to move where they are when he can rather than rarely seeing them in inshore Ireland! He is very interested in morphometrics and how new technology can provide some insights into these whales lives and their behaviour at sea.

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Ove Mikal Pedersen

Jumped in the water with orcas feeding on herring inTysfjord in 1998, and he never quite made it back on land, at least mentally. After completing a few SCUBA classes he went to Mexico and became a dive instructor, while trying to encounter as many large fish and animals in the wild as possible. After 10 years in Mexico, he returned to his native Northern Norway with a degree in linguistics (of all things). He is a musician and an audiophile who loves spending time in the water, filming whales and fiddling around with sound equipment until it works. He kept showing up with his camera whenever there was a beached whale and eventually got on a boat to see these animals in real life, now he is definitiely never coming back.