By Kareem Ghannoum
A WA dolphin expert has taken out top gong in the annual science communication awards, pitting her against researchers from across the nation.
Murdoch University marine biologist Valeria Senigaglia has won the state FameLab Science and Communication competition for her dolphin Facebook video that uses social media to drive home a strong message about not feeding the animals.“I have spent more than 200 hours following dolphins and more than four years of a Phd to answer the question (how bad can one fish be) and I can tell you that one fish can lead to a sea of trouble,” Ms Senigaglia says.
Ms Senigaglia said that dolphins ignored their clan and formed strong relationships with people that feed them, sometimes neglecting their offspring.
FameLab is the leading competition for science and communication, where researchers from all over the world can battle it out with their knowledge to see who stands out the most.
Since winning the competition, Ms Senigaglia sys she has been offered opportunities for further research on dolphins from research companies.
She says opportunities being thrown at her have been humbling, but that she remains focused on presenting new information.
“There are many different species of dolphins and many interesting studies that I have found since I started 16 years ago,” Ms Senigaglia says.
After winning the state FameLab competition, I have been fortunate enough to be given opportunities to research new studies for Western Australian science reports, she said.
Ms Senigaglia and her team’s contribution to sourcing new information about dolphin behaviour has shed new light on the socio-ecological consequences of dolphin feeding in Bunbury.
“We had researched on Dolphin’s behaviour and found something we have never seen before.”
“Dolphins tend to have stronger relationships with humans than their own clan when they are fed by people. this research showed that Dolphins lack having strong relationships,” she says.
“We have also recently found that the Australian Snubfin Dolphin is very closely related to the Irrawaddy Dolphin.”
Ms Senigaglia has hinted that many new research findings are to come very soon in the near future.