Maria Garagouni

Maria Garagouni

Contact Details:


PhD Student


Prof Emer Rogan (UCC), Dr Simon Ingram (Plymouth University)


As I child, when I wasn’t buried in a book, I always wanted to be out and about, exploring nature. I didn’t realise I could make a career out of it for a long time, but when the time came to fill in my university applications in high school, the only departments I applied to were various School of Biology. I have a degree in Biology from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, which I completed in 2013. Prior to my last year there, I had the opportunity to volunteer for the Ionian Dolphin Project (Tethys Research Institute), and that was what made me choose marine mammals as my thesis subject.

Having finished my degree, I started looking for a Marine Biology course with a strong marine mammal component. That led me to do the MSc in Marine Biology course at UCC in 2014, with a scholarship from the Bodossaki Foundation (Greece). For my thesis project, I investigated the habitat preferences of bottlenose dolphins on the west coast of Ireland. My initial findings piqued my interest, so I immediately commenced on a PhD to further study the subject. I took a brief time-out in November 2015, in order to participate in a five-week training cruise on board the RV Polarstern, sailing from Germany to South Africa. This amazing experience provided me with a thorough grounding in the practicalities of conducting oceanographic and planktonic surveys at sea.



My main interest is in marine mammals, particularly cetaceans and the factors that drive their distribution in a constantly changing environment. Understanding what influences cetacean movements and behaviours is especially important in light of climate change; as we elucidate their ability to cope with new pressures and human interactions, we can better inform conservation and protection policies.
For my PhD project, I intend to model, at various scales, the habitat preferences of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in Irish waters. At the largest scale, the models will include offshore and coastal data collected through acoustic, aerial, and boat-based surveys. At the finest scale, I will be tracking individual movements of dolphins within the Shannon Estuary. This involves a platform of opportunity in the form of an ecotourism vessel, from which I am conducting photo-ID, as well as land-based theodolite surveys.



Giovos, I., Ganias, K., Garagouni, M., Gonzalvo, J. (2016) Social media in the service of conservation: A case study of dolphins in the Hellenic seas, Journal of Aquatic Mammals, 42(1)

MSc thesis (2015): Modelling habitat preferences of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) on the west coast of Ireland

BSc thesis (2013): Marine mammals: their distribution and their interactions with fisheries in the Greek seas


School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences

An Scoil Eolaíochtaí Bitheolaíocha, Domhaneolaíocha agus Comhshaoil

University College Cork, Distillery Fields, North Mall, Cork, Ireland T23 N73K