Attraction and interaction of harbour porpoise and tagged fish in coastal protection reefs

In the Belgian part of the North Sea, passive and active acoustics are being used to study the distribution and behaviour of respectively, odontocetes and fish. Harbour porpoises and dolphins use echolocation for foraging, navigation, communication,… and are recorded by a sensor network of C-PODs. This sensor network also contains acoustic receivers that listen for fish with an implanted transmitter tag. More information on these sensor networks that are being maintained in the framework of LifeWatch can be found at Up till now, the data of these two sensors are being processed separately, whilst the co-occurrence of these species can reveal trophic interactions of predator species and insights in foraging ecology.


In the framework of a new innovative project on coastal protection, the Coastbusters project, the insights of above mentioned data will be used in the design of extra sensor stations in the study sites. The goal is to capture the ecosystem function of the biogenic reefs beyond their coastal protection role. These zones can become biodiversity hotspots, provide shelter and attract species from higher trophic levels (e.g. fish, marine mammals).


The student will be involved in the complete data flow of the sensor network, starting with retrieving the data in the field, uploading the data in the data web portal, and processing the data. The student will also gain expertise in interpretation of the data in order to use it for the field set-up in the new project.

Language requirements: 
English or Dutch
Specific competences required : 
Passion for field work and bioacoustics
Safety issues: 
working on board of a research vessel
Accommodation possibilities : 
No. Bring lunch. Public transport to and from Ostend is covered by VLIZ.
Additional costs to be covered by the student: