Dr Elanor Bell: BSc (Hons), PhD

Research interests

I am a microbial ecologist by training but have turned my hand from studying whale food to the whales themselves. I started work at the Australian Antarctic Division in early 2012, and combine my passions for conservation and the polar marine environment with experience of coordinating multi-national research projects in my role managing the IWC’s Southern Ocean Research Partnership. IWC-SORP is an international consortium of over 100 scientists from 13 different nations that all believe whales do not need to be killed to study them. We are working together to develop new leading-edge techniques that will enhance our research, and to collect data that are important for the management and conservation of whales. These data are contributed to international fora such as the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).

I have spent a great deal of time in Antarctica working both at sea and on the continent, including two winters spent at Davis research station. My research has ranged from studying tiny viruses and bacteria to working with the largest animal on the planet, the Antarctic blue whale. Whale research at the Australian Antarctic Division is excitingly multidisciplinary. For example, we study predator-prey interactions in order to determine whether krill swarm shape affects whale distribution and behaviour in the Southern Ocean. We also aim to determine whether the whales themselves fertilise their local environment with their poo, stimulating the growth of algae, which are food for the krill, which in turn become food for the whales.

Current projects

National & international collaborations
  • International Whaling Commission — IWC Southern Ocean Research Partnership projects
  • University Of Auckland, New Zealand
  • Marine Mammal Laboratory — Alaska Fisheries Science Centre, USA
  • Provincetown Centre for Coastal Studies, USA
  • UC Santa Cruz, USA
  • Southwest Fisheries Science Center/NMFS/NOAA, USA
  • University of Pretoria, South Africa
  • Marine Mammal Institute, Oregon State University, USA
  • Fundación Cethus, Argentina
  • Universidade Federal do Rio Grande, Brazil
  • Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research, Italy
  • ENSTA Bretagne, France
  • University of Hamburg, Germany
  • Centro de Conservacion Cetacea, Chile
  • Odyssea, Luxembourg
  • Institute of Marine Research, Norway
Key outcome areas
  • International Whaling Commission (IWC)
  • IWC’s Southern Ocean Research Partnership (IWC-SORP)
  • Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR)
  • Australian State and Commonwealth government stakeholders

Bell, E.M., van den Hoff, J., Whittock, L. 2020 Dimorphism in the Antarctic cryptophyte Geminigera cryophila (Cryptophyceae). Journal of Phycology, DOI doi.org/10.1111/jpy.13004

Miller, B.S., Calderan, S., Miller, E.J., Širović, A., Stafford, K., Bell, E., Double, M.C. (2019) A passive acoustic survey for marine mammals conducted during the 2019 Antarctic voyage on Euphausiids and Nutrient Recycling in Cetacean Hotspots (ENRICH). Acoustics 2019.

van den Hoff, J., Bell, E.M. 2015. The ciliate Mesodinium rubrum and its cryptophyte prey in Antarctic aquatic environments. Polar Biology, 38(8): 1305-1310, DOI 10.1007/s00300-015-1686-z.

Bell, E.M. (Ed.) 2012. Life at Extremes: Environments, Organisms and Strategies for Survival. CAB International, Wallingford, United Kingdom, 554 pp.

See more of Dr Bell's publications on Google Scholar.