Dr. Andrew J. Wright

Image Andrew J. Wright
NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow

Andrew is leading the Maritimes Region Fisheries and Oceans Canada assessment of impacts of shipping noise on North Atlantic right whales (NARW) as part of Canada’s Oceans Protection Plan. This includes work to better establish baselines for noise in eastern Canada, examine potential overlap with NARW occurrence, and increase understanding of noise impacts on NARW.

Current research and/or projects

Andrew is a British marine biologist that has been working on the science-policy boundary around the world for over a decade. His experiences have led him to champion a better communication of science to policy makers and the lay public, as well as spearheading efforts to bring more marketing techniques into conservation outreach. His Ph.D. explored the natural behaviour of harbour porpoise and the impacts of noise on them. He studied sperm whale bioacoustics for his M.Sc. and has undertaken some passive acoustic monitoring of Maui dolphins in New Zealand.

He has just begun a postdoc in Halifax, NS, Canada, to study impacts of noise on right whales. Specific lines of research will focus on sleeping behaviour, acoustic masking, stress responses and body condition. He also continues to work with sleeping in wild bottlenose dolphins with Dolphin Watch Alliance in Egypt and killer whale acoustics in the Ross Sea through Gateway Antarctica at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Research and/or project statements

My work contributes to Canada’s Oceans Protection Plan commitment to better understand and address the cumulative effects of shipping noise on North Atlantic right whales, coordinated by the cetacean research group in the Maritimes Region.

Professional activities / interests

  • Impacts of noise on cetaceans, especially sub-lethal impacts.
  • Stress responses in cetaceans.
  • Sleeping in cetaceans.
  • Cumulative impact assessment and management.

Education and awards

  • NSERC Visiting Postdoctoral Fellowship. 2017
  • Best student oral presentation: Annual Conference of the European Cetacean Society. 2013
  • Ph.D. Institute of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Roskilde, Denmark. Thesis: “How harbour porpoises utilise their natural environment and respond to noise”. Feb. 2013.
  • M.Sc. Marine Mammal Science (Distinction). University Of Wales, Bangor, UK. Thesis: “The effects of a tropical storm on the use of clicks by sperm whales”. Oct. 2003
  • B.Sc. Honours Marine Biology (Honours). University Of Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK. Jul. 1997

International experience and/or work

  • Worked on science and policy issues pertaining to impacts of noise on marine mammals in USA, Denmark, New Zealand and now Canada. Have conducted research in additional countries.
  • Invited participant at the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission.
  • Attended International Maritime Organization sessions in support of ship quieting guidelines arising out of the Hamburg Protocol.
  • Co-organised the series of international workshops on noise for Okeanos – Foundation for the Sea that, among other things, produced the Hamburg Protocol for reducing ship noise in the world's oceans.
  • Invited participant at several international workshops discussing science and policy related to noise and cumulative impacts.
  • Reviewed US, Greenlandic, European and New Zealand environmental impact assessments.

Key publications

  • Wright A.J., Akamatsu, T., Nørgaard Mouritsen, K., Sveegard, S., Dietz, R. & Teilmann, J. 2017. Silent porpoise: potential sleeping behaviour identified in wild harbour porpoise. Target: Animal Behaviour 133: 211-222. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2017.09.015
  • Gomez, C., Lawson, J.W., Wright, A.J., Buren, A.D., Tollit, D. & Lesage, V. 2016. A systematic review on the behavioural responses of wild marine mammals to noise: the disparity between science and policy. Canadian Journal of Zoology 94: 801–819 (2016) dx.doi.org/10.1139/cjz-2016-0098.
  • Wright, A.J., Simmonds, M.P. & Galletti Vernazzani, B. 2016. The International Whaling Commission – Beyond Whaling. Frontiers in Marine Science 3:158. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2016.00158
  • Wright, A.J. 2015. Sound Science: Maintaining Numerical and Statistical Standards in the Pursuit of Noise Exposure Criteria for Marine Mammals. Frontiers in Marine Science 2:99. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2015.00099
  • Wright, A.J. & Cosentino, A.M. 2015. JNCC guidelines for minimising the risk of injury and disturbance to marine mammals from seismic surveys: We can do better. Marine Pollution Bulletin 100:231-239.
  • Wright, A.J., Veríssimo, D., Pilfold, K. Parsons, E.C.M., Ventre, K., Cousins, J., Jefferson, R., Koldewey, H., Llewellyn, F. & McKinley, E. 2015. Competitive Outreach in the 21st Century: Why we need Conservation Marketing. Ocean & Coastal Management 115:41-48.
  • Williams, R., Wright, A.J., Ashe, E., Blight, L., Bruintjes, R., Canessa, R., Clark, C., Cullis-Suzuki, S., Dakin, T., Erbe, C., Hammond, P., Merchant, N., O'Hara, P., Purser, J., Radford, A., Simpson, S., Thomas, L. & Wale, M. 2015. Impacts of anthropogenic noise on marine life: publication patterns, new discoveries, and future directions in research and management. Ocean & Coastal Management 115:17-24.
  • Bechshoft, T., Wright, A.J., Weisser, J.J., Teilmann, J., Dietz, R., Hansen, M., Björklund, E. & Styrishave, B. 2015. Developing a new research tool for use in free-ranging cetaceans: recovering cortisol from harbour porpoise skin. Conservation Physiology 3(1):cov016 (Published online 28th April 2015 doi:10.1093/conphys/cov016)
  • Wright, A.J. 2015. Defending the Ivory Tower against the end of the world. Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences 5:66-69. (Published online: 28th Jan 2015 DOI: 10.1007/s13412-015-0227-y.)
  • Wright, A.J. & Kyhn, L.A. 2015. Practical management of cumulative anthropogenic impacts with working marine examples. Conservation Biology 29(2):333-340 (Published online: 29th Nov 2014 DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12425.)
  • Berga, A.S., Wright, A.J., Galatius, A., Sveegaard, S. & Teilmann, J. 2015. Do larger tag packages alter diving behavior in harbor porpoises? Marine Mammal Science 31(2):756-763 (Published online: 27th Nov 2014 DOI: 10.1111/mms.12179)
  • Tougaard, J., Wright, A.J. & Madsen, P.T. 2015. Cetacean noise criteria revisited in the light of proposed exposure limits for harbour porpoises. Marine Pollution Bulletin 90:196-208 (Published online: 20th Nov 2014 doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2014.10.051.)
  • Petruny, L.M., Wright, A.J. & Smith, C.E. 2014. Getting it right for the North Atlantic right whale (Eubaleana glacialis): a last opportunity for effective marine spatial planning? Marine Pollution Bulletin 85(1):24-32.
  • Parsons, E.C.M., Shiffman, D.S., Darling, E.S., Spillman, N. & Wright, A.J. 2014. How Twitter Literacy Can Benefit Conservation Scientists. Conservation Biology 28: 299-301. DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12226.
  • Wright, A.J., Maar, M, Mohn, C., Nabe-Nielsen, J., Siebert, U., Fast Jensen, L., Baagøe, H.J. & Teilmann, J. 2013. Possible Causes of a Harbour Porpoise Mass Stranding in Danish Waters in 2005. PLoS ONE 8(2): e55553. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055553.
  • Wright, A.J., Parsons, E.C.M., Rose, N.A. & Witcomb-Vos, E. 2013. The science-policy disconnect: language issues at the science-policy boundary. Environmental Practice, 15(01): 79-83. DOI: 10.10170S1466046612000506.
  • Wright, A.J. & 18 other authors. 2007a. Anthropogenic noise as a stressor in animals: a multidisciplinary perspective. International Journal of Comparative Psychology, 20:250-273.
  • Wright, A.J. & 18 other authors. 2007b. Do marine mammals experience stress related to anthropogenic noise? International Journal of Comparative Psychology, 20:274-316.
  • Wright, A.J. 2006. A Review of the NRC’s ‘Marine Mammal Populations and Ocean Noise: Determining When Noise Causes Biologically Significant Effects’ Report. Journal of International Wildlife Law and Policy, 9:91-99

Research facility

1 Challenger Drive
Dartmouth, NS B2Y 4A2


  • Affiliate Professor: George Mason University, Dept. Environmental Science and Policy, Fairfax, VA, USA.
  • Affiliate Researcher: University of Canterbury, Gateway Antarctica, Christchurch, New Zealand.
  • Scientific Board: Dolphin Watch Alliance, Gossau SG, Switzerland.