Charlotte Findlay

        Head and shoulder image of Charlotte Findlay during a field sampling expedition

PhD student

I am a marine ecologist interested in understanding the impacts of man-made noise in the marine environment, and how this affects marine species at both individual and population levels.

My work focuses on the risks posed by Acoustic Deterrent Device noise to marine mammals on the west coast of Scotland.

Contact details:

Modelling underwater noise from acoustic deterrent devices to determine the extent of exposure and implications for the conservation of marine mammals

Acoustic Deterrent Devices (ADDs) or 'seal-scarers' produce intense and aversive noise within the hearing range of seals to deter them from approaching and damaging cages or finfish at aquaculture farms. The use of ADDs in Scotland is largely undocumented, however recent evidence suggests that the noise from these devices has become widespread across the west coast of Scotland, and represents a regionally important but overlooked source of underwater noise pollution.

This PhD aims to model the extent of underwater noise from acoustic deterrent devices (ADD) on the west coast of Scotland and assess risks for marine mammal populations. Specifically, the PhD will explore the risk for injury and potential of habitat displacement for harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) and seal species (Phocidae spp.).

Results will be used to consider management options for the use of ADDs in Scotland and better inform legislation addressing underwater noise and species protection. 


Professor Ben Wilson, SAMS

Dr Denise Risch, SAMS

Dr Nathan Merchant, Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas)



European Social Fund



University of the Highlands and Islands

Peer-reviewed publications

Findlay, C.R., Ripple, H.D., Coomber, F., Froud, K., Harries, O. van Geel, N.C.F., Calderan, S.V., Benjamins, S., Risch, D., Wilson, B. (2018). Mapping widespread and increasing underwater noise pollution from acoustic deterrent devices. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 135. pp 1042-1050. 


Conference talks

Findlay, C.R., Ripple, H., Coomber, F., Froud, K., van Geel, N.C.F., Calderan, S.V., Benjamins, S., Risch, D., Wilson, B. (2018, October). Mapping and modelling widespread underwater noise pollution from acoustic deterrent devices. Presented at: MASTS: Annual Science Meeting, Glasgow.

Findlay, C.R., Ripple, H., Coomber, F., Hartny-Mills, L., Benjamins, S., Risch, D., Wilson, B. (2017, May). Large-scale underwater noise pollution from Acoustic Deterrent Devices used along the west coast of Scotland. Presented at: Oceanoise2017, Spain.

Findlay, C.R., Box, T., Patel, R., Tasker, M., Hawkridge, J., Mendes, S. (2017, May). The spatial and temporal distribution of impulsive underwater noise for UK seas – an initial assessment. Presented at: Oceanoise2017, Spain.

Employment history

Since 2017 PhD student at SAMS UHI

2016-17 Underwater Noise Adviser. Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC)



2016 MSc with Distinction Ecosystem-Based Management of Marine Systems. University of St Andrews (and SAMS)

2015 BSc (Hons) First Class Marine and Freshwater Biology. University of Glasgow


Training courses

2018 BioAcoustic Summer School (SeaBASS) at the University of New Hampshire, USA

Fieldwork experience

  • >Visual marine mammal surveyor and crew member on board RV Silurian, Scotland, Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (2018)
  • >Photo-identification of bottlenose dolphins, Scotland, SAMS (2017)
  • >Low-frequency Acoustic Deterrent Devices and Porpoises (LEAP) project fieldwork coordinator, Scotland, SAMS (2016)
  • >Visual marine mammal and seabird surveyor, Antarctica, University of St Andrews (2016)
  • >Visual marine mammal surveyor, Wales, Seawatch Foundation (2015)
  • >Visual and acoustic marine mammal surveyor, Scotland, University of Glasgow (2014)

Public engagement experience

2015: National Whale and Dophin Week, Wales, Seawatch Foundation

Jun-Aug 2018: NERC funded Future of our Seas 3-day public engagement training and 2-day event delivery


Media coverage

30 July 2018: Interviewed by BBC Alba News discussing underwater noise for the NERC Future Of Our Seas Project.

01 August 2018: ‘Scientists explain the future of our seas’. The Oban Times

7 May 2017: 'Underwater alarms putting health of whales, dolphins and porpoises at risk.' Sunday Herald