Originally from Belgium, I have been involved in marine mammal research since 2002. My main interest relates to the field of conservation biology and associated management. With the use of science, I aim to understand the causal factors affecting marine mammal conservation in order to establish or improve conservation management strategies. Over the years, my research expertise grew in the areas of population biology, ecology and ethology.
Most of my work has been focussed in the South Atlantic, both in Argentina and South Africa. After working in Patagonia, Argentina (2005-2012) mainly on southern right whales and bottlenose dolphins, I currently reside in South Africa and am appointed director of the Mammal Research Institute Whale Unit of the University of Pretoria. My main research focus is related to the assessment and monitoring of the South African population of southern right whales (building on a 40-year database initiated by the late prof. P.B. Best), for which I co-lead the related research Theme within the Southern Ocean Research Partnership of the IWC (iwc.int/sorp). Additionally I direct research projects on other baleen whales, such as humpback whales, Bryde’s whales and blue whales, and am coordinator of the “SouSA Consortium”, a national research collaboration on the Indian Ocean humpback dolphin established to improve scientific data and therefore accurately advise conservation management.
Due to my interest in the interface between science, policy and education, I joined the Belgian Delegation of the International Whaling Commission in 2011 and co-founded the NFO Whalefish (www.whalefish.org), an NGO with which I aim to enhance educational outreach and improve networking possibilities.