Chris Thompson

PhD candidate


Centre for Marine Futures
School of Biological Sciences
& UWA Oceans Institute
University of Western Australia M092
35 Stirling Hwy, Crawley, WA 6009


My main activities currently consist of preparing for field trips, carrying out deployments of both pelagic and benthic camera rigs in the field (including recent expeditions to the Chagos archipelago, British Indian Ocean Territory and Ilhas Selvagens, Portugal), and the subsequent processing of the footage and data. This includes providing species identifications of animals sighted on the footage, taking length estimates of those individuals and generating abundance estimates for each species.

  • Honours project
  • Publications
  • Collaborations
  • Media

Predicting shark behaviour: The influence of species, size and brain organisation

Understanding the behaviour of sharks and how it varies may have multiple benefits in informing conservation and bycatch mitigation efforts, fisheries management and efforts to decrease the risk of negative interactions between sharks and humans. However, shark behaviour is difficult to study in a natural setting given their size, predatory nature and environment. Novel techniques are therefore required to acquire in situ observations of shark behaviour. This study used baited remote underwater stereo-video systems (stereo-BRUVS) in conjunction with an ethogram, to investigate the effect of species and size on behavioural diversity, frequency and timing in eight species of shark, based on imagery collected in the Chagos Archipelago. Additionally the effect of brain organisation on behaviour was investigated through consideration of the relative sizes of major brain regions among species.

Species was found to be the primary determinant of behavioural variation with size playing a secondary role. Variation in diversity, frequency and timing of behaviours among species was partially explained by known physiological and ecological differences. Brain organisation was moderately correlated with behavioural composition indicating support for the theory of the neural basis of behaviour. Additionally, this study, as a proof of concept, shows that valuable behavioural data can be derived from the novel application of stereo-BRUVS, representing a viable means of generating in situ behavioural observations of marine apex predators.


Thompson CDH, Bouchet PJ, Meeuwig JJ. 2019. First underwater sighting of Shepherd’s beaked whale (Tasmacetus shepherdi)Marine Biodiversity Records, 12: 6.


Caselle JE, Hamilton SL, Davis K, Thompson CDH, Turchik A, Jenkinson R, Simpson D, Sala E. 2018.First quantification of subtidal community structure at Tristan da Cunha Islands in the remote South Atlantic: from kelp forests to the deep sea. PLoS ONE, 13(3): e0195167.