Dr Sascha Hooker:

I have broad interests in foraging and diving behaviour of marine mammals, and the physiological constraints underlying this.  I am keen to apply my work wherever possible toward conservation biology, and have worked on introduced pest species, the effect of anthropogenic sounds, contaminants, and the development of marine protected areas. 


My research concerns specifically the foraging and diving behaviour of marine predators and more generally how this can inform conservation planning in the ocean.

Current Projects

Marine predator foraging ecology

Work on predator foraging often relies on inference from dive profiles. Using a miniature video camera attached to the animal we can view the foraging space of a diving animal and test previously used proxies for foraging behaviour. The identification of foraging areas and assessment of the stability of these over time and space enable us to investigate variability in foraging success and the criteria driving this (whether anthropogenically or environmentally induced).

Diving physiology

The mechanisms allowing marine mammals to avoid problems associated with diving to depth are still only partially understood. Recent deaths of beaked whales associated with sonar exposure appear to be due to decompression sickness. I am interested in how problems such as shallow-water blackout and decompression sickness are avoided, and use modelling approaches to determine risk based on dive profiles.

Conservation planning and marine protected areas

An ecosystem-approach is widely advocated in conservation planning but ecosystem modelling approaches, despite their sophistication, often suffer from a lack of source data or inherent uncertainties. An alternative is to use spatially explicit management. I am interested in the application of such marine reserve areas to higher predators.

source: symbiosis

Recent Publications:

Recent publications listed in research@st-andrews
Hooker, SK, Simmons, SE, Stimpert, AK & McDonald, BI 2017, 'Equity and career-life balance in marine mammal science?' Marine Mammal Science, vol Early View. DOI: 10.1111/mms.12407
Hooker, SK 2017, Toothed whales. in Encyclopedia of marine mammals. 3rd edn, Elsevier.