Déborah joined CERG in February 2021. Her MSc research focuses on the environmental contaminants of New Zealand’s endangered endemic Hector’s dolphin. She completed her undergraduate degree in Marine Ecology and Zoology at Massey University in 2019, and her postgraduate diploma in Marine Science at the University of Auckland in 2020. During 2020-21, she completed a summer research scholarship with Massey University working on contaminants in killer whales (Orcinus orca).
MSc Project:Environmental contaminants of New Zealand's endangered endemic Hector's dolphin (Cephalorhynchus hectori).
This project assesses the spatiotemporal trends in legacy contaminants (PCBs and multi-residue pesticides) and emerging contaminants (PBDEs and PFAS) of New Zealand’s endangered endemic Hector’s (C. h. hectori) and Māui (C. h. maui) dolphins. Contaminant concentrations will be examined from the blubber and liver of stranded and incidentally by-caught Hector’s and Māui dolphins between 1997 and 2021, and will be explored in relation to life history and reported post-mortem findings. The prevalence of these contaminants and the associated risk they pose to the conservation of endangered endemic wildlife such as Hector’s and Māui dolphins remains unclear, especially in the context of disease susceptibility.