Tim Awbery

        Picture of Tim Awbery

PhD student

I am a marine ecologist who has spent the last three years working in Montenegro, Albania and Turkey researching the behaviour, acoustics and habitat preference of various marine mammals. My PhD focuses on the acoustics and foraging of minke whales in order to contribute to their conservation within MPAs.

Contact details:

Minke whale acoustic & foraging ecology to underpin MPA-based conservation

North Atlantic minke whales are one of the most commonly seen cetaceanspecies in Hebridean waters, yet we know very little about their lives, including, knowing where they go once they have left UK and Irish waters each year. What we do know is that they face a range of anthropogenic threats, including entanglement in fishing gear, noise pollutions, collision risk with vessels and offshore devices. In addition to this, on a broader scale there are also concerns that minke whales are at risk from climate change.

The project aims to develop existing projects held in partnership between the Scottish Association for Marine Science, Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, Marine Science Scotland and Heriot Watt University. It will use existing visual and acoustic datasets to analyse whether the distribution of minke whales has changed over the last couple of decades. In addition to this, it will investigate anthropogenic noise sources and hotspots for noise within Scottish Marine Protected Areas, develop an understanding of minke whale diving and feeding and the associated acoustic behaviour for each of these and use Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to develop a methodology for assessing and quantifying minke whale size and health. A greater comprehension of any long term changes in distribution as well as an increased understanding of other essential life behaviours such as feeding will provide decisionmakers with more information to facilitate the development of more effective conservation management plans.



Professor Ben Wilson, SAMS UHI

Dr Denise Risch, SAMS

Dr Ewan Edwards, Marine Scotland Science

Dr Lauren Hartney-Mills, HWDT

Dr Lauren McWhinnie, HWU 


NERC Studentships awarded to the SUPER Doctoral Training Partnership



University of the Highlands and Islands

Professional training courses

ACCOBAMS Highly Qualified MMO/PAM Operator


Fieldwork experience

March 2021 – Giant Guardians of the Deep Seas Spring Expedition – A week leading the collection of visual acoustic data on cetaceans in the eastern Mediterranean waters of Turkey

July 2020 – Giant Guardians of the Deep Seas Summer Expedition – Two weeks collecting visual acoustic data on cetaceans in the eastern Mediterranean waters of Turkey

April 2019 – Two weeks aboard the scientific research and outreach vessel ‘The Independence’ leading data collection on cetaceans in Montenegrin waters and performing outreach and networking in Croatia.

August 2018 – May 2021 - Smaller, single day boat-based surveys in Montenegro and the Istanbul Strait, Aegean Sea and Levantine Sea of Turkey as well as land-based theodolite operations in Montenegro, Albania and Turkey. 


Teaching experience

Three years of in-person and remote teaching of GIS, Survey techniques, Passive Acoustic Monitoring and Statistics for DMAD – Marine Mammals Research Association. Delivering ACCOBAMS’ Highly Qualified MMO/PAM Operator courses.



2018-2021 - Senior Research Associate, DMAD – Marine Mammals Research Association 

Higher Education

2014 - MSc Surveying Land and Environmental Management, University of Exeter

2012 - BSc Conservation Biology and Ecology, University of Exeter

Peer Reviewed Publications

Stephens, G., Bas, A.A., Hardy, J., Awbery, T., Rudd, L., Abbiss, L., Araç, N. and Lyne, P., 2021. Sightings and stranding reports of Fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) in the Levantine Sea, with recent sightings from Turkey. J. Cetacean Res. Manage.22(1), pp.55-60.

Awbery, T., and Akkaya, A., 2020. A Worrying Decline in the Presence of Bottlenose Dolphins in Montenegro & the Importance of Citizen Science During COVID-19, ACCOBAMS’ FINS Journal, 10. 

Akkaya, A., Awbery, T., Lyne, P., Cipriano, G., Maglietta, R., Renò, V., Fanizza, C., Carlucci, R., 2020.  Comparison of acoustic patterns recorded for the sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) in the  Northern Ionian Sea (Central Mediterranean Sea) and in the North-western Levantine Sea (Eastern  Mediterranean Sea), paper presented to 2020 IMEKO TC-19 International Workshop on Metrology  for the Sea, Naples, Italy, October 5-7, 2020.

Akkaya, A., Lyne, P., Schulz, X., Awbery, T., Capitain, S., Rosell, B.F., Yıldırım, B., İlkılınç, C., Relva, J.V., Clark, H. and van Walsum, L., 2020. Preliminary results of cetacean sightings in the eastern Mediterranean Sea of Turkey. Journal of the Black Sea/Mediterranean Environment26(1).

Clarkson, J., Christiansen, F., Awbery, T., Abbiss, L., Nikpaljevic, N. and Akkaya, A., 2020. Non-targeted tourism affects the behavioural budgets of bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus in the South Adriatic (Montenegro). Marine Ecology Progress Series, 638, pp.165-176.


Conference talks

Awbery, T., Rudd, L. and Akkaya, A., 2021. In: 5th Conference on Cetacean Conservation in South Mediterranean Countries. Assessing the Overlap of Fishing and Bottlenose Dolphins in an Understudied Region of the Mediterranean.

Awbery, T., Akkaya, A. 2019. Bottlenose dolphins of Turkey – from the unknown to the known.  World Marine Mammals Conference, 8th December 2019, Barcelona


Poster presentations

Awbery, T., Akkaya, A., Clark, H., Nikpaljevic, N., Abbiss, L., Clarkson, J., Hardy, J., Beqiri, K.,  Konomi, A., Rudd, L., Basmaci, M., Bakiu, R. The Identification of Critical Habitats for Cetaceans in  the Southern Adriatic Sea. [Poster] World Marine Mammal Conference. 9th-12th December 2019,  Barcelona. 

Basmaci, M., Akkaya, A., Awbery, T., Stephens, G., Nikpaljevic, N., Abbiss, L., Clarkson, J., Dolphins  of Montenegro - walk the walk, talk the talk. [Poster] World Marine Mammal Conference. 9th-12th December 2019, Barcelona. 

Akkaya, A., Gordon, J., Lyne, P., Yıldırım, B., Eleman, A., Ilkilinc, C., Ulusoy, E., Kurt, M., Awbery, T.,  2019. From Small Cetaceans to the Great Whales of the East. [Poster] World Marine Mammal  Conference. 9th-12th December 2019, Barcelona. 

Awbery, T., Lyne, P., Abbiss, L., Clark, H., Nikpaljevic, N., Bakiu., R, Beqiri, K., Konomi, A., Todorović  S., Basmaci, M., Clarkson, J., Rudd., L, Guimard, E., Van Walsum, L., Akkaya, A. The Delineation of  Critical Habitats for the Conservation of Cetaceans in Three Understudied Areas of the  Mediterranean. [Poster] 7th Meeting of the Parties to ACCOBAMS. 5th-8th November 2019,  Istanbul.