Rebecca M Boys
PhD Candidate
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Project funding:

             Animal Ethics 

             Research Grant

              Wildbase Research Trust

              Research Fund

Marion Cunningham Memorial Fund,

Wildlife Society of the NZ

Veterinary Association


                                GoPro Inc.


Rebecca M Boys is a Commonwealth Scholar who joined Massey University in March 2019. Her PhD investigates the application of welfare science to cetacean strandings. Rebecca was previously employed at the Institute of Marine Research (IMAR) and Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre (MARE) in the Azores and has a background in the ecology and conservation of marine mammals. Her previous projects include the use of capture-mark-recapture modelling to estimate demographic parameters of cetacean species. Rebecca is a current committee member of the Australia and New Zealand Student Chapter of the Society of Marine Mammalogy. She was a council member of the UK and Ireland Regional Student Chapter (2014-2015) and served on the Education Committee (2019-2021) of the Society of Marine Mammalogy, as well as the European Cetacean Society council (2016-2019). Prior to commencing her doctoral studies, Rebecca graduated with a BSc Honours in Applied Marine Biology from Bangor University, UK, where her honours thesis examined the fatal interactions between bottlenose dolphins and harbour porpoises.

PhD Project:

Application of welfare science to cetacean strandings  

Supervisors: Prof Karen Stockin, Assoc Prof Ngaio Beausoleil, Dr Emma Betty and Dr Mat Pawley.

This project will apply concepts of welfare science to examine the behavioural and physiological indicators displayed by stranded cetaceans around the New Zealand coast to inform decision-making at stranding events. The project will inform first aid procedures, and decisions of refloatation versus euthanasia, allowing for personnel to make fast informed decisions regarding prognosis of individuals and improve allocation of refloating effort.