Fieldwork on whales and dolphins is challenging. We use a wide range of research methods:

Population Surveys

We use boat and plane surveys for estimates of population size, photographic identification of individuals, sound recordings and behavioural observations. Read more


Whales and dolphin live in an acoustic world. They use sound to communicate, navigate and find food. Read more

Photo ID

Individual whales and dolphins can be identified from photographs. For example, about 10% of all Hector’s dolphins are individually identifiable, mostly from dorsal fin nicks. Almost all sperm whales and right whales are individually identifiable. Read more

Risk Analysis

Once data on population size, reproduction, survival rates and dolphin movement patterns have been gathered you can construct a population model to find out if the population is growing or declining. Read more


The final stage of any research is to publish a paper about it in a scientific journal. After the field data have been gathered, the analysis has been done, scientists write papers describing the research methods, results and conclusions of their particular study. Read more