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About Dr Simon Oliver

My doctoral work focused on the behaviour, biology and conservation of pelagic thresher sharks with particular emphasis on their cleaning and hunting strategies.   In 2013 my work in this area gained recognition in the scientific community from Nature, Science, and Scientific American, and has attracted considerable media attention (BBC, The Guardian, NERC Planet Earth, National Geographic etc.).

In 2008 I founded the Thresher Shark Research and Conservation Project (TSRCP) and its field station in the Philippines to promote and disseminate shark research, education and conservation to a broad local, regional and international public and scientific outreach.  TSRCP, which is ongoing and has sustained itself since its inception, regularly hosts BSc and MSc students who join its expeditions to assimilate data for their thesis projects.  These have enabled me to expand the scope of my research interests to encompass the relevance and impact of conservation on local communities, and foster international collaborations.


My current teaching responsibilities include leading undergraduate modules on conservation and environmental impact, managing marine environmental impacts, and team teaching on population biology, conservation genetics, behavioural ecology, and threats to biodiversity. At the postgraduate level, I lead the research (thesis) module for the MSc programme in Wildlife Conservation, and team teach on managing wildlife populations.


My research interests revolve around using integrated approaches to understanding animal behaviour in the context of their use of habitats, ecological services, cooperation, and predator-prey interactions. I am particularly interested in the behavioural ecology of oceanic sharks in response to their cleaning, hunting, and migration strategies, and applying associated behavioural knowledge to address conservation problems. 

Recently I was awarded £500,000 by Discovery Communications to further my research on pelagic thresher sharks in the Philippines, and I am currently collaborating with colleagues from Rutgers University Marine Field Station, Ghent University’s Marine Biology Research Group, Bangor University’s School of Ocean Sciences, and the Department of Marine Ecology at University of Liverpool.

Postgraduate Supervision




Alesha Naranjit

The status of cetaceans in Trinidad and Tobago

2014 - 2022

Calum Murie

The movements, habitat use, and residency patterns of large predatory sharks in southern Mozambique.

2019 - Present

Alp Gokgoz

The cleaning ecology of Pelagic thresher sharks

2018 - Present








William Goddard


Vertical zonation patterns of benthic macroinvertebrates in a tropical fringing mangrove system in the Philippines


2016 - 2017

Natasha Mosley

The population dynamics of pelagic thresher sharks (Alopias pelagicus) at a shallow coastal seamount in the Philippines


2016 - 2017




Afonso Gomes

Assessing the impact of Typhoon Rai on the fringing reefs of the southwestern Cebu coastline, in the Philippines


Alexis Bishop

Facial expression in pelagic thresher sharks (Alopias pelagicus).  


Ruth Kennedy

The community composition of foraminifera at Parkgate saltmarsh.


Emily Hobson

Visitor effects on the behaviour of fish in public aquaria


Katie Yeomans

Quantifying microplastics in coastal sediments in the UK


Amy Smethurst

Artificial coastal defense structures provide intertidal rock pool habitats


Laura McBride

Devil ray clients that pose are more likely to receive cleaner services


Leah Cox

Assessing the dietary components of Irish bats through guano dissection


Jack Hughes

Community composition of benthic foraminifera in the saltmarshes of the Dee Estuary and their potential use as bioindicators of climate change


Jessica Walls

Maternal investment and territoriality in grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) at Donna Nook.


Madeleine Berge


The effects of spinal deformities in aquarium housed sandtiger sharks


Elizabeth Fletcher

Assessing dietary componants of British bats through guano dissection


Chakshudaa Masih

The abundance and distribution of Blue mussels Mytilus edulis in the United Kingdom


Natasha Rajpurohit

The Breeding seasonality of  the glossy swiftlet in north Andaman


Alissa Böhm

An assessment of the efficacy of Grenada’s National Adaptation Plan


Abby Cooper

The Physiology of Thresher Shark Eyes


Daryl Kwong Loong Chong

The Anatomy of a Thresher Shark’s Tail


Kristyn Decker

The development and implementation of a facial action coding system (FACS) for sharks



Published Work

Oliver SP*, Grothues TM, Mayo ZJ,Williams AL, Silvosa M, Cases G (2023) Depth and temperature profiles reflect individual differences in the daytime diving behaviours of pelagic thresher sharks. Frontiers in Marine Science 10:1128473.  doi: 10.3389/fmars.2023.1128473

Rambahiniarison J, Agustines A, Alexopoulos K, Araujo G, Armstrong A, Arnold S, Barruga A, Cañete T, Conales Jr. S, Delijero K, Enolva NP Flam AL, Keane E, Labaja J, Legaspi C, Murie C, Murray R, Oliver SP, Pierce SJ, Ponzo A, Rohner CA, Schifferer R, Snow S, Spakowski M, Stevens GM, Tilgel T, Wong JN, Yaptinchay AA, Barr Y (2022) Distribution of the reef manta ray Mobula alfredi and the oceanic manta ray Mobula birostris in the Philippines: A collaborative effort for conservation. Journal of Fish Biology.  doi: 10.1111/jfb.15283.

Murie C, Spencer M, Oliver SP* (2020) Current strength, temperature, and bodyscape modulate cleaning services for giant manta rays. Marine Biology 167: 54. doi: 10.1007/s00227-020-3674-2.

Oliver SP*, Grothues TM, Williams AL, Cerna V, Silvosa M, Cases G, Reed M, Christopher S (2019) Risk and resilience: high stakes for sharks making transjurisdictional movements to use a conservation area.  Biological Conservation 230: 58-66.  doi:  10.1016/j.biocon.2018.11.013

Hood FE, Klinger B, Newlaczyl AU, Sieber A, Dorel M, Oliver SP, Coulson JM, Blüthgen N, Prior IA (2019) Isoform-specific Ras signaling is growth factor dependent. Molecular Biology of the Cell. mbcE18100676. PMID 30785867 DOI: 10.1091/mbc.E18-10-0676

Oliver S* (2016), Integrating role-play with case study and carbon footprint monitoring; A transformative approach to enhancing learners' behaviour for a more sustainable environment.  International Journal of Environmental and Science Education 11(6), 1323-1335.  doi: 10.12973/ijese.2016.346a

Oliver SP*, Bicskos AE (2014) A pelagic thresher shark (Alopias pelagicus) gives birth at a cleaning station in the Philippines.  Coral Reefs. doi: 10.1007/s00338- 014-1249-8

Cadwallader HF, Turner JR, Oliver SP* (2014), Cleaner wrasse forage on ectoparasitic digeneans (phylum Platyhelminthes) that infect pelagic thresher sharks (Alopias pelagicus). Marine Biodiversity  do:i10.1007/s12526-014-0290-8

Balabanova S, Holmberg C, Steele I, Ebrahimi B, Rainbow L, Burdyga T, McCaig C, Tiszlavicz L, Lertkowit N, Giger OT, Oliver S, Prior I, Dimaline R, Simpson D, Beynon R, Hegyi P, Wang TC, Dockray GJ, Varro A (2014), The neuroendocrine phenotype of gastric myofibroblasts and its loss with cancer progression. Carcinogenesis. 35(8):1798-806. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgu086

Oliver SP*, Turner J R, Gann K, Silvosa M, D’Urban Jackson T (2013), Thresher Sharks Use Tail-Slaps as a Hunting Strategy. PLoS ONE 8(7): e67380. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0067380.

Oliver SP*, Hussey N E, Turner J R, Beckett A J (2011), Oceanic Sharks Clean at Coastal Seamount. PLoS ONE 6(3): e14755. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0014755

Cocks D, King J, Oliver S, Turner J, Roberts G (2008), A software package for Environmental Impact Assessments. Centre for Applied Marine Sciences. Report 2008-06. (id:1682)


BA (McGill University), MSc (University of Wales, Bangor), PhD (Bangor University).