Dr Brian Miller: BSc (Hons), PhD

Research interests

I am a marine mammal acoustician, and this means that I develop and use specialised underwater listening devices and software to detect and locate sounds produced by marine mammals. I started working in this field in 2003 at Boston University’s Hearing Research Center by investigating the mechanics of cetacean (dolphin and whale) auditory systems.

For my PhD at Otago University, I conducted 3D acoustic tracking of sperm whales in Kaikoura, New Zealand, and I also developed passive acoustic software for measuring individual growth in sperm whales. Since 2011 I have been working at the Australian Antarctic Division as part of the Australian Marine Mammal Centre. My work is focused on understanding the role and recovery of large whales throughout the Southern Ocean. In addition to Antarctic research, I also provide scientific advice on the effects of man-made underwater noise on marine mammals around Australia and Antarctica.

My main acoustic research tools in the Southern Ocean are sonobuoys and autonomous moored-acoustic recording devices (also known as whale recorders). I use sonobuoys to locate and track blue and fin whales in real-time during vessel-based surveys. These acoustic tracking methods, which we developed for the IWC-SORP Antarctic Blue Whale Project, provide a reliable and efficient way to find and study critically endangered Antarctic blue whales.

Moored acoustic recorders provide continuous sound recordings for an entire year for each deployment at each recording site. These long-term underwater recordings can give us insight into the distribution, habitat usage, and seasonal trends in vocal behaviour of more than a dozen Antarctic marine mammal species – each known to produce distinctive underwater sounds. These long-term recordings are especially useful for learning about blue, fin, and sperm whales, since these species are very vocal, but are otherwise not frequently encountered.

Current projects

  • #4636: Sustainable Management of Antarctic Krill and Conservation of the Krill-based Ecosystem
  • #4600: Conservation and management of Australian and Antarctic whales – post-exploitation status, distribution, foraging ecology and their role in the Southern Ocean ecosystem
Collaborations & representations
Key outcome areas
  • International Whaling Commission (IWC)
  • Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR)
  • Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP)
  • Australian State and Commonwealth Government and stakeholders

M Aulich, RD McCauley, BS Miller, F Samaran, G Giorli, C Erbe (2022) Seasonal distribution of the fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) in Antarctic and Australian waters based on passive acoustics. Frontiers in Marine Science (accepted May 2022);

BS Miller, S Calderan R Leaper, et al (2021) Source level of Antarctic blue and fin whale sounds recorded on sonobuoys deployed in deep-ocean off Antarctica. Fontiers Marine Science; doi:10.3389/fmars.2021.792651

H Nagaraj, K Owen, MA Lea, BS Miller (2021) Acoustic analysis of crabeater seal (Lobodon carcinophaga) vocalizations in the Southern Kerguelen Plateau Region of East Antarctica. J Acoust Soc Am doi:10.1121/10.0006789.

S Calderan, R Leaper, BS Miller et al (2021) Southern right whale vocalizations on foraging grounds in South Georgia. JASA Express Letters 1, 061202; doi:10.1121/10.0005433

BS Miller et al (2021) An open access dataset for developing automated detectors of Antarctic baleen whale sounds and performance evaluation of two commonly used detectors. Sci Rep 11, 806 doi:10.1038/s41598-020-78995-8

Calderan S, Black A, Branch T, Collins M, Kelly N, Leaper R, Lurcock S, Miller B, Moore M, Olson P, Širović A, Wood A, Jackson J (2020) South Georgia blue whales five decades after the end of whaling. Endan Spec Res 43:359–373; doi:10.3354/esr01077

Jackson J, Kennedy A, Moore M, Andriolo A, Bamford C, Calderan S, Cheeseman T, Gittins G, Groch K, Kelly N, Leaper R, Leslie M, Lurcock S, Miller B, Richardson J, Rowntree V, Smith P, Stepien E, Stowasser G, Trathan P, Vermeulen E, Zerbini A, Carroll E (2020) Have whales returned to a historical hotspot of industrial whaling? The pattern of southern right whale Eubalaena australis recovery at South Georgia. Endan Spec Res 43:323–339; doi:10.3354/esr01072

EJ Miller, JM Potts, MJ Cox, BS Miller et al (2019). The characteristics of krill swarms in relation to aggregating Antarctic blue whales. Sci. Rep.

BS Miller and EJ Miller (2018). The seasonal occupancy and diel behaviour of Antarctic sperm whales revealed by acoustic monitoring. Sci. Rep., 8, 5429. doi:10.1038/s41598-018–23752-1

BS Miller, J Barlow, S Calderan, K Collins et al. (2015). Validating the reliability of passive acoustic localisation: a novel method for encountering rare and remote Antarctic blue whales. Endang. Species Res. 26:257–269 doi:10.3354/esr00642

See more of Dr Miller’s publications on ResearchGate.