Simon Allen


  • The University of Western Australia (M085), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


Calculated based on number of publications stored in Pure and citations from PlumX

Personal profile


I am currently a co-director of the Shark Bay Dolphin Research Alliance ( and an Adjunct Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia. I gained my PhD from Murdoch University (on the abundance, genetic structure and bycatch of dolphins in north-western Australia) in 2015. Prior to that, I had worked on a number of marine mammal- and reptile-related projects as a Research Associate. Earlier still, I completed a MSc at Macquarie University (on the management of intensive dolphin watching tourism) in 2005, my BSc(Hons) at the University of Queensland (on the behavioural effects of provisioning wild dolphins) in 1996 and a BSc at Flinders University (in marine biology and environmental science) way back in 1994.

I have long been fascinated by animal behaviour and, more recently, the profound impacts of human activity (tourism, fishing, coastal development and climate change) thereon, so I've tailored my life in such a way as to allow me to study, photograph and write about these aspects of behavioural ecology and conservation management. I do so for publications in journals and texts ranging from the taxon- and issue-specific (for example, Marine Mammal Science, and Whale-Watching: Sustainable Tourism and Ecological Management) to the broad (for example, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, and Scientific Reports).

Here in the midst of the anthropocene: Greater knowledge and awareness, improved wildlife conservation and better management of the ways in which humans interact with the ecosystems we dominate is my goal.

Roles and responsibilities

*Project management including grant writing, obtaining funding, managing logistics and conducting remote area fieldwork.

*Extensive field skills including small boat-handling, photo-identification, remote biopsy sampling, animal handling, and small UAV (drone) piloting.

*Student supervision, reporting and publishing.

*Past roles have included being a: field biologist on a dugong tagging project (capture, handling, deployment of satellite tags, biopsy); technical assistant on agamid behavioural research (experimental design, fieldwork, write-up); marine mammal handler on pinniped research; and marine mammal observer on projects associated with environmental impact assessment for industry and the military.

Future research

Ongoing co-direction of the Shark Bay Dolphin Research Alliance

Completion of the project "Using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to investigate visual detection probability of coastal dolphins during aerial surveys"

Funding overview

(*denotes that I was the Primary Investigator)

AUD7,000 from the Perth Convention Bureau’s Giving West Aspire Conference Scholarship program to attend the 22nd Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, Halifax, Canada.

AUD104,000 from the Sea World Research and Rescue Foundation and WA Dept Parks & Wildlife for the project "Using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to investigate visual detection probability of coastal dolphins during aerial surveys" with primary investigators Brown & Hodgson.

AUD200,000 from the WA Marine Science Institute for the Kimberley Marine Science Program project "1.2.4. Dolphins" with co-investigators Brown, Smith, Salgado-Kent, Marley, Thiele, Bejder & Erbe.

USD10,000 from the International Fund for Animal Welfare for the Best Conservation and Animal Welfare Presentation at the 20th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, Dunedin, NZ.

AUD21,000 from the World Wildlife Fund for the project "Abundance of snubfin dolphins (Orcaella heinsohni) in Roebuck Bay, WA" with co-investigators Brown & Bejder.

AUD205,000 from the Australian Marine Mammal Centre (AMMC) for the project "Population size and habitat use of Australian humpback dolphins around the North West Cape, WA" with co-investigators Parra & Bejder.

AUD127,000 from the AMMC for the project "Snubfin and humpback dolphin abundance and genetic connectivity in the Kimberley region, Western Australia" with co-investigators Bejder, Frere & Pollock.

AUD361,000 from the AMMC for the project "Genetic structure and abundance of fishery impacted dolphin populations of the Pilbara, North-Western Australia" with co-investigators Loneragan, Bryant, Pollock & Krützen.

AUD48,000 from the AMMC for the project "Combining genetics and morphology to resolve a longstanding taxonomic and conservation management issue: How many bottlenose dolphin species are there in Australian waters?" with co-investigators Kemper, Krützen, Jedensjo, Parra, Charlton & Sherwin.

AUD150,000 from the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, the Department of Fisheries Western Australia and the Nickol Bay Professional Fishers Association for the project "Reducing dolphin bycatch in the Pilbara finfish trawl fishery" with co-investigator Loneragan.

AUD6,000 from the Department of Fisheries Western Australia for the project "A review of dolphin bycatch in the Pilbara Fish Trawl Interim Managed Fishery" with co-investigators Bejder & Loneragan.

AUD28,000 from Port Stephens Pearls Pty Ltd for the project "Design a dolphin monitoring program for assessing the impacts of pearl oyster aquaculture" with co-investigators Bejder & Loneragan.

AUD100,000 from the Australian Research Council, the New South Wales National Parks & Wildlife Service and Port Stephens Commercial Dolphin Watch Association for the project "Ecology and management of bottlenose dolphin in Port Stephens" with co-investigators Harcourt & Corkeron.

AUD48,000 from the New South Wales National Parks & Wildlife Service for the project "Port Stephens bottlenose dolphin population surveys I & II" with co-investigators Möller & Harcourt.

Previous positions

PhD candidate - Murdoch University

Research Associate/Fellow - Murdoch University

Research Associate - UNSW and ANU

Current projects

Using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to investigate visual detection probability of coastal dolphins during aerial surveys

Population viability analysis of bottlenose dolphins under no-impact and various fishery-bycatch scenarios

Teaching overview

ANIM3353 “Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Management” - Cetacean bycatch: Understanding the global problem; Cetacean bycatch: A case study of the Pilbara trawl fishery.

BIOL5504 “Sex in the Sea” - Dolphin alliances I and II

BIOL5594 “Field Course in Evolutionary Biology of Marine Mammals” (with University of Zurich)


My research interests lie primarily in assessing the impacts of human activities on marine megafauna for application to their conservation and management.
On the more empirical side, I study the complex social and foraging behaviours of coastal dolphins (see, for example,

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water


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