Helene Marsh is Distinguished Professor of Environmental Science and the Dean of Graduate Research Studies at James Cook University.  Her qualifications include BSc (Queensland) and PhD (JCU).  

Helene is a Fellow of both the Australian Academies of Science and Technological Sciences and Engineering and has received several international awards for her research. She currently chairs the national Threatened Species Scientific Committee.

The focus of her research has been dugong population ecology.  Committed to informing interdisciplinary solutions to conservation problems Helene has collaborated widely with colleagues in other disciplines as varied as Anatomy, Economics, Geography, Law and Psychology.

Throughout the course of her academic career, Helene has supervised 55 PhDs and 20 Master’s candidates to successful completions and has a several more candidates in the pipeline.

Helene became Director of Graduate Studies at JCU in 1997 and was the foundation Dean when the Graduate Research School was established in 2003. Helene has been “Top DDOG” (chair of the Australian council of Deans and Directors of Graduate Studies) on two separate occasions. 

  • ED5306: Advising Higher Degree Research Candidates (Level 5; TSV)
  • SC1101: Science: Nature, Knowledge and Understanding (Level 1; TSV)
  • Marine conservation biology
  • Marine natural resource management
  • Indigenous marine resource management
  • Methodological problems associated with environmental monitoring
  • Establishing priorities for conservation intervention
  • Marine wildlife population ecology, especially life history, reproductive ecology, population dynamics, diet, distribution, abundance and movements of dugongs and coastal dolphins
  • Committed to informing interdisciplinary solutions to conservation problems and has collaborated widely with colleagues in other disciplines including Anatomy, Anthropology, Botany, Biochemistry, Genetics, Geography, GIS, Law, Psychology, Sociology and Statistics
  • Policy outcomes include significant contributions to the science base for the Dugong Sanctuary established in Torres Strait; dugong management in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, especially the Dugong Protected Areas and no-take areas to protect dugongs in various zoning plans; and the establishment of a Commonwealth Ministerial Taskforce to Investigate the Sustainability of Indigenous Hunting of Dugongs and Turtles
  • Provided science base for review of the global status of dugongs by the IUCN, 2006
  • Research has formed a conceptual basis for the ‘Back on Track’ Program conducted by the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection
  • Interactions between people and their environments, particularly in tropical regions such as the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait regions
  • Briefed the Global Conference on Oceans and Coasts (UNESCO, Paris 2001) on 'The challenge of conserving marine mammals' in preparation for the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, Johannesburg
  • Provided science base for development of Dugong Memorandum of Understanding under the International Convention of Migratory Species, 2005-2007
  • 2009 - Aldo Leopald Award, American Society of Mammalogy
  • 2008 - Distinguished Service Award, Society of Conservation Biology
  • 2001 - Award for Contribution to Sirenian Research, Society of Marine Mammalogy
  • Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
  • 2015 - Fellowship of Australian Academy of Science
  • 1998 - Fellowship in Marine Conservation, Pew Charitable Trust
  • Chair, Threatened Species Scientific Committee which reports to the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment
  • Past President, International Society for Marine Mammalogy

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles
Book Chapters
Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

Department of the Environment and Energy - Australian World Heritage Grant

Providing natural heritage technical advice on World Heritage

Indicative Funding
To ensure that Australia meets its obligations as a world Heritage committee member by conducting technical natural heritage research and analysis on the sites that are subject to World Heritage inscription and state of conservation decisions in 2018 by: 1) reviewing world Heritage Centre documents that relate to the site inscription nominations and state of conservation assessments; and 2) providing expert natural heritage technical advice to the Australian Government at the 42nd World Heritage Committee Session in Bahrain.
Helene Marsh (College of Science & Engineering)
World Heritage; natural heritage

Australian Research Council - Linkage - Projects

Ecological valuation tools to protect seagrass during coastal development

Indicative Funding
$490,000 over 4 years, in partnership with the Gladstone Ports Corporation Ltd ($450,000 over 3 yrs)
Seagrasses provide ecosystem services (fisheries, nutrient cycling, primary productivity) worth trillions of dollars, but this capacity is threatened by coastal development. In Australia, port developments are considered a major threat to seagrass ecosystems, but resource managers lack accurate information about their potential impacts and mitigation measures. Focussing on differences between shallow and deep seagrasses within the Great Barrier Reef, this project seeks to develop a world-first spatial valuation tool that will allow resource managers and policy makers to minimise impact of port development on seagrass ecosystems, thereby ensuring that Australia?s seagrasses continue to provide ecosystem services essential to our well-being.
Michael Rasheed, Rod Connolly, Mark Hamann, Peter Macreadie, Helene Marsh and Marcus Sheaves in collaboration with Megan Ellis (TropWATER, Griffith University, College of Science & Engineering, University of Technology, Sydney and Gladstone Ports Corporation)
Seagrass; Coastal Development; tropic fate; Ecosystem Services; ports

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority - Contract Research

An Assessment of the Distribution and Abundance of Dugongs and In-Water Large Marine Turtles Along the Queensland Coast From the NSW Border to Port Douglas

Indicative Funding
$325,163 over 2 years
This project provides information to inform the management of dugongs in the SGBR by continuing the time series of standardised aerial surveys conducted since the late 19802. The project provides an assessment of the distribution and abundance of dugongs and in-water large marine turtles in the SGBR and contribute to the 30 year time series for temporal comparisons using the latest advances in distribution and abundance analyses. In addition the project provides a more detailed spatially explicit assessment of the importance of Shoalwater Bay for these species and their habitats to the GBRWHA by incorporating historical data from other sources.
Helene Marsh in collaboration with Mark Hamann, Susan Sobtzick, Rie Hagihara, Christophe Cleguer and Amanda Hodgson (College of Science & Engineering, TropWATER and Murdoch University)
Dugong; Marine Megafauna; Relative Abundance; Aerial Survey; Distribution; Long Term Monitoring

Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi - Consultancy

E-Resource Kit

Indicative Funding
$35,669 over 2 years
The purpose of the E-Resource Kit project is to develop an easily accessible decision-making support tool for Dugongs, Seagrasses and the associated Human Communities. The E-Resource Kit will incorporate decision making for the selection of appropriate methodologies for applied dugong and seagrass research and the associated human dimensions of such studies. The tool is proposed for use by researchers, non-government/civil society managers, and decision-makers in dugong range states.
Helene Marsh in collaboration with Christophe Cleguer and Amanda Hodgson (College of Science & Engineering and Murdoch University)
Dugong (Dugong dugon); Methodologies; Decision Support Tool; Management and Conservation

Department of the Environment and Energy - National Landcare Programme-Natural Heritage Trust-Whale and Dolphin Conservation Plan-Dolphin Conservation Plan

Progressing a coordinated national research framework to conserve the Australian snubfin dolphin, the newly described Australian humpback dolphin and other tropical inshore dolphins

Indicative Funding
$454,284 over 3 years
The inshore waters of tropical Australia support two newly-described endemic species of dolphins: the Australian snubfin dolphin (Orcaella heinsohni) and the Australian humpback dolphin Sousa sahulensis), both of which are matters of national environmental significance as listed migratory species. This project will progress a coordinated national research framework to conserve these species and other tropical inshore dolphins by: (a) refining the coordinated research framework to assess their national conservation status, and (b) progressing the implementation research identified as high priority for their conservation management.
Helene Marsh (College of Science & Engineering)
research framework; Australian snubfin dolphin; Australian humpback dolphin; tropical inshore dolphins

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

  • Planning and Managing the Great Barrier Reef: Lessons Learned for the Future Planning of the Reef and Implications for Marine Protected Areas Elsewhere. (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Barriers and opportunities for managing anthropogenic impacts to marine wildlife in the Great Barrier Reef (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Sustainability of the ivory trade inThailand: Demand, supply and control (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • The Potential of using Data-Logging Acoustic Receivers To Study The Movements and Residency Patterns of Dugongs in Port Environments: A Comparision With Satellite Tracking. (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM)
  • Re Thinking The Assessment and Monitoring of Large-Scale Coastal Developments for Improved Marine Megafauna Outcomes. (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM)
  • Our Environment, Our Future: Integrating Indigenous Knowledge and Western Management Regimes as means to Manage the Torres Strait and PNG Western Coastline Fisheries Resources in the light of Climate Change (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM)
  • Ecology and Conservation Status of the Northern Spot-tailed Quoll, Dasyurus maculatus. (PhD , Primary Advisor)

These are the most recent metadata records associated with this researcher. To see a detailed description of all dataset records, visit the JCU Research Data Catalogue.


The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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