Texa Sim


        A smiling Texa Sim against a background showing oceanic bathymetry

PhD student

I am a cetacean scientist, specialising in the ecology, ethology and socio-biology of these incredible marine mammals. In my PhD I am studying the occurrence of harbour porpoises around Scottish sea farms, with a focus on acoustic techniques to answer questions about their behaviour.

Contact details:

The Scottish salmon farming industry is an important source of income for many communities on the west coast of Scotland, and the numbers of these facilities are set to increase as the Scottish Government strives to support 'sustainable growth targets' in both marine finfish and farmed shellfish production.

The west coast of Scotland is also set to become Scotland’s only Special Area of Conservation (SAC) for the harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena), and the proposed 13,539km² region has significant overlap with existing salmon farm sites.

My PhD will address knowledge gaps associated with the potential interactions between porpoises and aquaculture, with an aim to understand occurrence and behaviour around salmon farms on the Scottish west coast. I will use Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) to identify whether harbour porpoise occur near farms, and if so, establish temporal variation in usage patterns and evidence of specific behaviours from acoustic information. I intend to assess potential attractants, such as aggregations of possible fish prey species, and investigate the effects of Acoustic Deterrent Devices (ADDs) where they are used.


Supervisors

Professor Ben Wilson, SAMS UHI

Dr Steven Benjamins, SAMS

Dr Caroline Carter, SNH

Funder

Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS)


University

University of the Highlands and Islands

Peer-reviewed publications

Robinson, K.P., Sim, T.M.C., Culloch, R.M., Cordoba Aguillar, I., Eisfeld, S.M., Filan, M., Haskins, G.N., Williams, G. and Pierce, G.J.  2017. Female reproductive success and calf survival in a North Sea coastal bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) population. PLoS ONE, 12(9)

Robinson, K. P., Bamford, C.C.G., Airey, A., Bean, T.S., Bird, C., Haskins, G.N., Sim, T.M.C. and Evans, P.G.H. 2016. Killer whale (Orcinus orca) occurrence in the Moray Firth in northeast Scotland: incidental sightings, behavioural observations and photo-identification. Aquatic Mammals, 43(1), pp.26-32


Conference talks

UK & Ireland Regional Student Chapter of the Society for Marine Mammalogy, Bangor. ‘The reproductive histories and inter-birth, calving intervals of female coastal bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in northeast Scotland’ , 22-23 March 2015.

UK & Ireland Regional Student Chapter of the Society for Marine Mammalogy, St. Andrews. ‘Associations or alliances? Comparisons of social relationships between male bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in two UK populations’, 20-22 January 2016.


Poster presentations

29th Annual Conference of the European Cetacean Society, Malta. ‘The reproductive histories and inter-birth, calving intervals of female coastal bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in northeast Scotland’. 23-25 March 2015.

30th Annual Conference of the European Cetacean Society, Madeira. ‘Associations or alliances? Comparisons of social relationships between male bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in two UK populations’. 14-16 March 2016.

Fieldwork experience

I have extensive fieldwork experience in a range of different environments from the east and west coasts of Scotland to the Camaano Sound in British Columbia. Working from small vessels, I have undertaken various photo-identification projects on bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) in Scotland as a staff member of the Cetacean Research & Rescue Unit (CRRU) since 2007, and built on these skills to collect photo-ID data on humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus), and killer whales (Orcinus orca) in British Columbia with Cetacea Lab.

My fieldwork with CRRU has also involved a large amount of boat-handling around cetaceans, and I have strong experience in data collection and cetacean identification while at sea. 


Professional training courses

Using GIS in Marine Biology. GIS in Ecology, 18 January 2017

Marine Mammal Observer/Passive Acoustic Monitoring Operator. Seiche Ltd, 1-5 June 2015

 

Public engagement

2 May 2018 'Whales, dolphins & porpoises: cetaceans of the Scottish seas' A public lecture at the Inverness Science Festival.

Employment history

Various; May - Aug 2017: Research Assistant / Volunteer Coordinator. Cetacean Research & Rescue Unit (CRRU)

2015-17: Sales Assistant. Fishkeeper Scotland, Leith

2011-13: Aquatics Expert. Dobbies Garden Centre, Aberdeen


Education history

2015 MSc (Distinction) Marine Biology. Bangor University

2014 BSc (Hons 1st class) Marine Biology. University of Aberdeen