Stephanie Plön Ph.D.

Fellow von Januar
bis Juni 2022

Zur Person

Stephanie Plön originates from Göttingen, Germany, and holds a BSc Hons in Marine Biology from Swansea University, Wales, UK (1994), and a PhD from Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa (2005) for her work on the status and natural history of pygmy and dwarf sperm whales (Kogia spp.) off southern Africa. For the latter she spent a substantial amount of time at the University of Auckland, New Zealand.
Since 2005, Stephanie has been researching the whales and dolphins off south-eastern South Africa, a global biodiversity hotspot. Her research interests focus on the general ecology of the local cetacean (whale and dolphin) populations, including their natural history, reproductive biology, trophic ecology, anatomy, population and molecular ecology, strandings and health of individuals and populations. Increasingly, her research has focused on the various anthropogenic impacts these species are facing in the southwestern Indian Ocean.
Stephanie is a member of the Species Survival Commission (SSC) Cetacean Specialist Group of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and of the Intersessional Task Force on Sousa (humpback dolphins) for the International Whaling Commission (IWC).
She is furthermore a member of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) Expert Advisory Panel on Strandings for Africa and the Indian Ocean and Stranding Coordinator for the Indian Ocean Network for Cetacean Research (IndoCet). She serves on the editorial boards of Marine Mammal Science and Frontiers of Marine Science. Since April 2021, Stephanie is an Associate Professor (Extraordinary) in Medical Virology at Stellenbosch University. South Africa.

Projekt am FIPH

Whales and dolphins as indicators of Ocean Health - a new transdisciplinary approach for the Anthropocene

We are living in an era that is recognized as having been shaped by the influence of man like no other one- scientist are calling it the 'Anthropocene'. But the influence of humans is not only prevalent in terrestrial systems- increasingly we are also seeing these effects in the ocean. These anthropogenic (or man-made) effects include increasing impacts on marine mammals from chemical pollution, noise, disease, poor nutrition due to overfishing and habitat degradation, and the effects of climate change- all together reflecting a deterioration of the health of our oceans. Yet increasing evidence suggests that marine mammals play an important part in keeping the ocean functioning and thus also aid in climate change mitigation.
Currently 25% of all marine mammal populations and species are rated as endangered, raising the question how healthy our oceans really are. Living in the Anthropocene means that we need to find new solutions to ensure our survival on this planet. Thus starting a discourse across disciplines on Ocean Health, what that means, particularly for our relationship with nature, is a first step in changing our thinking and finding solutions.