Andrew Willson
Research student


I initiated my career in Western Australia 1997, establishing an NGO to undertake coral reef habitat mapping projects and identify areas worthy of additional protection within the Ningaloo Marine Park. Subsequently this lead to work in Kuwait where I spent four years in the development of a large public aquarium facility providing the opportunity to work hands on with corals and marine vertebrates learning aspects of animal husbandry, fish pathology and turtle rehabilitation. Continued work in Kuwait after 2003 lead to my introduction into consultancy world where I worked on the design and maintenance of oceanographic data-buoy networks and also participated in UN fisheries stock assessment projects.

Having first visited Oman in 2001 to assist with marine mammal research, I sailed my home and belongings there in 2007, and since been stationed there focusing on marine conservation projects working through a local environmental consultancy. Aside from projects with commercial clients, much of this work has included developing capacity and scientific methodology with government and local NGO’s in Oman to enable long-term monitoring of sensitive habitats and endangered species as a means to support development of evidence based conservation programmes.

As well as the dive time spent mapping and monitoring coral reefs, many seasons have also been spent trekking and training teams on remote beaches of Oman’s coastline monitoring olive Ridley, hawksbill, green and loggerhead nesting populations. My involvement in the marine mammal research in Oman has also continued as part of an international team of collaborating scientists. Most importantly, research conducted up until 2008 resulted in the IUCN recognizing humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) found in the region as being non-migratory and perhaps one of the most endangered populations of whales in the world. As a result of the drive to understand more about the ecology for the ‘Arabian Sea Humpback Whale’ much of my recent time has been spent managing vessel transect, passive acoustic and remote telemetry studies to ensure sufficient information is generated to guide effective management for this isolated and endangered sub-population.

Broad research specialisms:

  • Oceanographic monitoring and data collection
  • Marine habitat mapping and survey techniques
  • Marine turtle ecology and conservation
  • Marine mammal ecology and conservation


BSc (Hons) Marine Geography (1996)
At Present – Masters by Research (2013 – 2015)

Contact details

AddressEnvironment and Sustainability Institute
University of Exeter
Penryn Campus
TR10 9FE

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