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)
  • MB3204: Conserving Marine Wildlife: Sea Mammals, Birds, Reptiles (Level 3; TSV)
  • MB5204: Conserving Marine Wildlife: Sea Mammals, Birds, Reptiles (Level 5; 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
Research Disciplines
  • 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

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 159+ research outputs authored by Prof Helene Marsh from 1983 onwards.

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
$77,527 over 4 years
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

Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi - Consultancy

Development of a Stranding Protocol for marine mega-fauna for Abu Dhabi SW Arabian Gulf, UAE

Indicative Funding
Stage 1 a) Review existing data provided by EAD, including strandings data, aerial survey data and anecdotal sightings of dugongs; existing stranding protocols for marine mammals (dugongs and cetaceans) and marine turtles; and existing handling and hand rearing protocols and field notes for live dugong calves b) Prepare detailed proposal for the delivery of the three projects including timelines and budget.
Helene Marsh and Susan Curnock (College of Science & Engineering and TropWATER)
Dugong; Stranding

Port of Townsville Ltd - Contract Research

Aerial survey of marine megafauna in Cleveland Bay

Indicative Funding
$111,628 over 2 years
An assessment of the distribution and abundance of dugongs and in-water marine turtles in Bowling Green, Cleveland and southern Halifax Bays in winter (June) and summer (November) 2019 prior to the start of the capital dredging for the Channel Upgrade (CU) project of Port of Townsville Limited in the context of: (1) the 30 year time series of similar surveys and(2) the information on the status of seagrasses in the survey region. This project will provide a baseline for the Marine Megafauna Monitoring Program for the CU Project and the 30 year Port Expansion Project.
Helene Marsh in collaboration with Alana Grech, Kym Reeve, Robert Miller, Daniel Gonzales Perez, Leah Carr and Nao Nakamura (TropWATER and ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies)
Dugongs; Marine Turtles; Cleveland Bay; Port; Aerial Survey

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority - Contract Research

An assessment of the distribution and abundance of dugong and in-water large marine turtles along the Queensland coast from Cape York to Hinchinbrook Island

Indicative Funding
$422,516 over 3 years
This project will meet the requirements outlined in the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan to provide information to inform the management of dugongs in the Northern Great Barrier Reef region (NGBR) by continuing the time series of standardised aerial surveys conducted since the late 1980s. The project will provide an assessment of the distribution and abundance of dugongs and in-water large marine turtles in the NGBR and contribute to the 30 year time series for temporal comparisons using the latest advances in distribution and abundance analyses.
Helene Marsh, Susan Sobtzick and Alana Grech (Division of Tropical Environments & Societies, TropWATER and ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies)
Dugong; Aerial Survey; Abundance; Marine Turtles; Distribution; Long-term Monitoring

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)
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

National Marine Science Committee - Grant

Research training for Australia's future Blue Economy

Indicative Funding
$17,000 over 1 year
Australia's National marine Science Plan 2015-25 expresses concerns about whether Australia's current research training offerings can meet the future Blue Economy and calls for training that is more quantitative, cross-disciplinary and congruent with the needs of industry and government. This project will investigate the congruence between university offerings and industry needs by interviewing a stratified sample of employers and sending them short follow-up questionnaires, surveying recent doctoral graduates, analysing job advertisements, and inviting submissions from universities on how they are responding to the issues identified by the employers and recent graduates.
Helene Marsh in collaboration with Margaret Carlin, April Abbott, Lynnath Beckley, Will Figueira and Iain Gordon (Division of Tropical Environments & Societies, Australian Institute of Marine Science, Macquarie University, Murdoch University and The University of Sydney)
Marine; Education; Work

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.

  • Effects of Plastic Pollution on Green Sea Turtles in Uruguayan Waters (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Sustainability of the elephant ivory trade inThailand: Demand, supply and control (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • The Impact of Fisheries Interactions on the Foraging Behaviour of Indian Ocean Humpback Dolphins (Sousa plumbea) along the Sindhudurg Coast of Maharashtra, India (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Re-thinking the assessment and monitoring of large-scale coastal developments for improved marine megafauna outcomes (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Best practice and cultural appropriateness: Governance of the Torres Strait fisheries into the future. (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Ecology and Conservation Status of the Northern Spot-tailed Quoll, Dasyurus maculatus. (PhD , Primary 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/Adv)

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


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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