NEFSC Protected Species Branch Staff
Peter Corkeron has led the large whale research program at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center since 2011. The primary focus of the large whale research program is using science to assess the status as well as the anthropogenic and ecological drivers affecting North Atlantic right whales. The program is primarily based on aerial and vessel-based surveys of large whales through the waters of the northeastern US EEZ. It also includes close collaboration with colleagues in the Passive Acoustics group in Protected Species Branch, and with external partners in the local research community, particularly at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the New England Aquarium.
The remit of the large whale research program also covers other large whales, particularly humpbacks. Peter's work also includes assessing the effects of noise on large whales, developing new technology to enhance our understanding of whales' behavior and ecology, and applying these technologies to improve conservation outcomes for whales. He occasionally finds time to have fun with R.
Peter serves on the editorial boards of Marine Ecology Progress Series and Tourism in Marine Environments. He is a member of the World Conservation Union's (IUCN) Cetacean Specialist Group and a charter member of The Society for Marine Mammalogy.
Peter's PhD was on the ecology of inshore dolphins in the waters off Brisbane, Queensland. Awarded by the University of Queensland in 1989, it was the first Australian PhD on the biology of living cetaceans. In 1988, Peter started another research program, on the behavior of humpback whales in Hervey Bay, Queensland, assessing the effects of the nascent whale-watching industry there. This science underpinned the creation of the world's first Marine Protected Area established to manage whale-watching, in 1989. At the same time, he maintained an active program on inshore dolphins in Moreton Bay, including research leading to the establishment of the interaction program with free-ranging dolphins at Tangalooma.
By 1990, he had moved to the University of Sydney, where, with Prof. Michael Bryden, he established what was then the premier cetacean research group in Australia. This included further work on inshore dolphin ecology and acoustics; humpback whale abundance estimation, behavior and movement ecology; and southern right whale population biology and behavior, including membership of the committees of PhD and MSc students. The right whale program that Peter started continues today as The Great Australian Bight Right Whale Study. Peter was also heavily involved in developing the original research program for the Australian Marine Mammal Research Centre, now part of the Marine Science Centre at Taronga Zoo. In early 1994, Peter survived a near-fatal assault.
While recovering from serious injuries, he moved to James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland, and worked on dugong abundance estimation. Building from his PhD work on humpback dolphins, Peter had identified two species of inshore tropical dolphins (now known as Australian humpback and Australian snubfin dolphins) as a particular conservation concern. While a James Cook Postdoctoral Fellow, he established a research program on the population biology, behavior and acoustics of these species, and restarted his dolphin research program in the waters off Brisbane. After his postdoc, he continued to develop his research group while a lecturer on contract, ran courses on coastal zone management, marine wildlife management and environmental science, and supervised PhD and MSc students. He also maintained his interests in the effects of tourism on marine wildlife, the evolutionary ecology of baleen whale ranging behavior, and even dabbled in work on fruit bats and wallabies.
In 2000, Peter moved to Tromsø, Norway to take up a position with the marine mammal group in the Norwegian Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture Research, which became the Tromsø lab of the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research. There, he worked primarily on the population biology of phocid seals. Fieldwork took him to Svalbard, Jan Mayen and throughout northern Norway. In 2004, he quit his position in response a new policy introduced by the Norwegian government, that abused the concept of Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management to justify culling marine mammals.
Moving with his family to the USA, over the next few years Peter had adjunct appointments with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the New England Aquarium, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. His diverse body of work over this period included running dugong surveys in Qatar, fieldwork on baleen whales in Oman, and writing on the "marine mammals eat fish" issue for conservation groups. In 2010, he spoke before a US Congressional subcommittee on "Marine Mammals In Captivity: What Constitutes Meaningful Public Education?". In his spare time, he wonders if people read these blurbs to the end.
North Atlantic right whales, baleen whale conservation
Davis, GE, Baumgartner MF, Bonnell JM, Bell J, Berchok C, Thornton JB, Brault S, Buchanan G, Charif RA, Cholewiak D, Clark CW, Corkeron P, Delarue J, Dudzinski K, Hatch L, Hildebrand J, Hodge L, Klinck H, Kraus S, Martin B, Mellinger DK, Moors-Murphy H, Nieukirk S, Nowacek DP, Parks S, Read AJ, Rice AN, Risch D, Sirovic A, Soldevilla M, Stafford K, Stanistreet JE, Summers E, Todd S, Warde A, & Van Parijs SM. 2017. Long-term passive acoustic recordings track the changing distribution of North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) from 2004 to 2014. Scientific Reports, 7: 13460.
Pace III RM, Corkeron PJ, Kraus SD. State-space mark-recapture estimates reveal a recent decline in abundance of North Atlantic right whales. Ecol Evol. 2017;7:8730-8741. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.3406
Corkeron P, Rolland RM, Hunt KE and Kraus SD. A right whale pootree: classification trees of fecal hormones identify reproductive states in North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis). Conservation Physiology. 5. https://doi.org/10.1093/conphys/cox006
Risch D, Corkeron PJ, Ellison WT, Van Parijs SM. 2014. Formal comment to Gong et al.: Ecosystem scale acoustic sensing reveals humpback whale behavior synchronous with herring spawning processes and re-evaluation finds no effect of sonar on humpback song occurrence in the Gulf of Maine in fall 2006. PLoS ONE 9(10): e109225. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0109225
Rolland RM, Parks SE, Hunt KH, Castellotte M, Corkeron PJ, Nowacek DP, Wasser SK, and Kraus SD. 2012. Evidence that ship noise increases stress in right whales. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B. 279:2363-2368
Mussoline SE, Risch D, Clark CW, Hatch LT, Weinrich MT, Wiley DN, Thompson MA, Corkeron PJ and Van Parijs SM. 2012. Seasonal and diel variation of the North Atlantic right whale up-call: implications for management and conservation in the Northwestern Atlantic Ocean. Endangered Species Research. 17:17-26
Corkeron PJ, Minton G, Collins T, Findlay K, Willson A, and Baldwin R. 2011. Spatial models of sparse data to inform cetacean conservation planning: an example from Oman. Endangered Species Research.15:39-52. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0029741
Clark CW, Brown M, and Corkeron PJ. 2010. Visual and acoustic surveys for North Atlantic right whales, Eubalaena glacialis, in Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts, 2001-2005: management implications. Marine Mammal Science. 26:837-854
Marine mammals and Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management
Corkeron PJ. 2007. Can fisheries problems be solved by culling marine mammals? In Marine Nature Conservation in Europe 2006. Proceedings of the Symposium, May 2006. Kraus, J.C., von Nordhein, H. and Bräger, S. (eds). Bundesamt für Naturschutz, Bonn, Germany.
Corkeron PJ. 2014. Human attitudes and values: tradition and transformation and zombies. Pp 48-56 in Higham, J.E.S., Bejder, L. & Williams, R. (Eds). (2014). Whale-watching, sustainable tourism and ecological management. Cambridge University Press. 418pp. ISBN: 978-0-521-19597-3.
Corkeron PJ. 2006. How shall we watch whales? pp 161-170 in D.M. Lavigne (ed). Gaining Ground: In Pursuit of Ecological Sustainability. Proceedings of an International Forum. The International Fund for Animal Welfare, Guelph, Canada and the University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland.
Scarpaci C, Nugegoda D, and Corkeron PJ. 2005. Tourists swimming with Australian fur seals (Arctocephalus pusillus) in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, Australia: are tourists at risk? Tourism in Marine Environments 1:97-104.
Movement ecology of baleen whales
Valsecchi E, Corkeron PJ, Galli P, Sherwin W, and Bertorelle G. 2010. Genetic evidence for sex-specific migratory behaviour in in western South Pacific humpback whales. Marine Ecology Progress Series 398:275-286.
Brown MR, Corkeron PJ, Hale PT, Schultz KW, and Bryden MM. 1995. Evidence for a sex-segregated migration in humpback whales, Megaptera novaeangliae. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B. 259:229-234
Ecology, behavior, conservation biology of inshore dolphins
Parra GJ, Corkeron PJ, and Marsh H. 2006. Population sizes, site fidelity and residence patterns of Australian snubfin and Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins: implications for conservation. Biological Conservation 129:167-180.
Corkeron PJ and Martin AR. 2004. Ranging and diving behaviour of two "offshore" bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops sp., off eastern Australia. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the UK. 84:465-468.
Chilvers BL, Corkeron PJ, and Puotinin ML. 2003. The influence of trawling on the behaviour and spatial distribution of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops aduncus, in Moreton Bay, Australia. Canadian Journal of Zoology. 81:1947-1955.
Van Parijs SM, Smith J, and Corkeron PJ. 2002. Using calls to estimate the abundance of inshore dolphins; a case study with Pacific humpback dolphins, Sousa chinensis. Journal of Applied Ecology. 39:853-864.
Corkeron PJ. 1997. Bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops truncatus, in southeast Queensland waters: social structure and conservation biology. pp 1-10 in Hindell M. and Kemper C. (eds) Marine mammal research in the southern hemisphere. Volume 1. Status, ecology and medicine. Surrey Beatty and Sons. Chipping Norton. Australia
Corkeron PJ, Leh C, Andau P, Wong M, and Leatherwood S. 1995. Cetaceans of Northern Borneo. Brunei Museum Journal. 10:55-64.
Corkeron PJ. 1990. Aspects of the behavioural ecology of inshore dolphins, Tursiops truncatus and Sousa chinensis in Moreton Bay, Australia. pp 285-294 in Leatherwood S. and Reeves R. R. (eds). "The bottlenose dolphin." Academic Press. San Diego. USA
Corkeron PJ, Bryden MM, and Hedstrom K. 1990. Feeding by bottlenose dolphins in association with trawling operations in Moreton Bay, Australia. pp 329-336 in Leatherwood S. and Reeves R. R. (eds). "The bottlenose dolphin." Academic Press. San Diego. USA
Van Opzeeland IC, Corkeron PJ, Risch D, Stenson G, and Van Parijs SM. 2009. Geographic variation in vocalizations of pups and mother-pup behaviour of harp seals Pagophilus groenlandicus. Aquatic Biology 6:109-120.
Risch D, Clark CW, Corkeron PJ, Elepfandt A, Kovacs KM, Lydersen C, Stirling I, and Van Parijs SM. 2007. Vocalizations of male bearded seals (Erignathus barbatus) classification and geographical variation. Animal Behaviour. 73:747-762.
Haug T, Stenson GB, Corkeron PJ, and Nilssen KT. 2006. Estimation of harp seal (Pagophilus groenlandicus) pup production in the North Atlantic completed: results from surveys in the Greenland Sea in 2002. ICES Journal of Marine Science 63:95-104.
Van Parijs SM, Corkeron PJ, Harvey J, Hayes S, Mellinger D, Rouget P, Thompson PM, Wahlberg M, and Kovacs KM. 2003. Patterns in vocalizations of male harbor seals. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 113:3403-3410.