Media Releases 2013

Posted on 02/04/2013 by Phillip Island Nature Parks

Dr Kirkwood has taken up a position leading the seal research group for the Dutch Government. The decision sets Roger, Marjolein and their two children on an exciting new adventure to rival trips the pair have taken to Antarctica throughout their research careers.

“Roger has made an enormous contribution to the conservation and management of Australian fur seals, not just at Seal Rocks, but across Australia,” said Dr Peter Dann, research manager at Phillip Island Nature Parks.

“He has also played a leading role in the program to eliminate foxes from Phillip Island”, Dr Dann said.

In his 15 years at the Nature Parks, Roger conducted over 100 research field trips to islands in Bass Strait and southern Tasmania. He has supervised 12 students, is an adjunct professor in the Faculty of Science and Technology at Deakin University, and has spearheaded numerous research collaborations with government agencies including the Australian Antarctic Division and CSIRO Fisheries. In 2001 he organised and co-convened the Southern Hemisphere Marine Mammal Conference on Phillip Island.

Despite the hours spent in the field, and raising a family, Roger has managed to publish 45 research papers and three books about seals, including two children’s books. His latest work, a comprehensive insight into the biology and ecology of Australian fur seals, will soon be published through CSIRO Publishing.

Marjolein’s contribution to research programs and visitor services at the Nature Parks has also been invaluable. Marjolein started at the Nature Parks in 2000 on a program aimed at investigating the usefulness of M-44 bait ejectors for fox eradication. The calibre of work, to which Roger also contributed, was recognised with a Victorian Coastal Council’s award for Excellence in the category of Innovation in 2002.

Following the cessation of the M-44 project in 2003, Marjolein worked in research on a fox bait project. During her fox research, Marjolein developed a strong link with the Phillip Island Landcare group and was an active member of their committee for many years.

Later in 2003, Marjolein took the opportunity to go to Antarctica as an assistant for her sister, Tamara, working on Weddell seals. On her return from Antarctica, Marjolein continued her work with the Nature Parks, commencing as a night ranger. She again worked in research as a research assistant for two summers in 2004 and 2005 and has been a constant adviser on fox behaviour and research techniques.

“Marjolein and Roger’s fox research has been instrumental in informing the strategy and success of Phillip Island Nature Parks’ work towards eradicating foxes from the island,” said Dr Dann.

“Roger and Marjolein have been invaluable employees at Phillip Island Nature Parks and their knowledge and dedication to research excellence will be sorely missed.

“Their work creates a lasting legacy and their research will continue to inform our conservation and wildlife management decisions for many years to come.”

Roger will return briefly to Phillip Island next summer to conduct another pup count at Seal Rocks as part of the Nature Parks’ population estimates conducted every five years at all Australian fur seal colonies.   

pdf1New adventure for seal researcher and family

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