Milaja Nykanen
Research Fellow
University College Cork +353 (0)85 110 1466

I’m a research assistant at MaREI working as a marine mammal/seabird observer and data logger on ObSERVE aerial surveys covering the shelf and offshore waters of Ireland. The purpose of the surveys is to collect baseline data on the abundance and distribution of marine megafauna and identify key sites for different species in the offshore waters. This data will contribute to the conservation and management of the species that are protected under the EU Habitats and Marine Strategy Framework Directives. The project is funded by the Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources, and the Department of Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht.

I’m also a final year PhD student at the School of BEES, UCC, studying the abundance, phylogeography, population structure and habitat use of bottlenose dolphins. My study population is the “mobile” population inhabiting the coastal waters of Ireland, and I spent two field seasons on the west coast of Ireland collecting photo-identification data and skin biopsy samples of these transient dolphins. I’m also using passive acoustic monitoring, i.e. C-PODs, to collect data on the site occupancy and habitat use of these animals. My supervisors are Dr Emer Rogan (UCC), Dr Simon Ingram (University of Plymouth) and Dr Andrew Foote (University of Bern), and the project is funded by Crawford Hayes scholarship and the Irish National Parks and Wildlife Service. This project will provide more information on the numbers and ranging patterns of bottlenose dolphins occurring on the west coast of Ireland and helps to establish whether these dolphins form genetically distinct groups. This information can in turn be used in the management and conservation of the species.

Before arriving in Ireland in 2012, I graduated from the University of Jyvaskyla, Finland, in 2006 with a MSc in Limnology and Hydrobiology after which I completed a MRes degree in Marine Mammal Science at the University of St. Andrews in 2009. I wrote my Master’s thesis on the echolocation behaviour of killer whales occurring off the Shetland Islands, UK.