Dr. Olaf Boebel

I am a physicist working in the fields of physical oceanography and bioacoustics. Generally, my work revolves around the development and deployment of novel observations tools, like under ice Argo floats, Pressure Inverted Echosounders (PIES) for oceanographic studies, and infrared imaging for automatic marine mammal detection and passive acoustic monitoring for marine mammal research and mitigation. I supervise the maintenance of the Weddell Sea’s HAFOS (Hybrid Antarctic Float Observing System) long-term marine observatory including the PALAOA listening station and acted as chief scientists for several RV Polarstern expeditions.



Dr. Elena Schall

I am a marine biologist specialised in bioacoustics. My main focus is to develop efficient algorithms to detect and classify marine mammal vocalisations, speeding up the analysis of passive acoustic data in order to address ecological questions. I am interested in understanding the effects of the physical environment and the ecosystem productivity on animal distributions, abundances and their acoustic behaviour. Through the work on my PhD, I gained comprehensive experience in the detection and classification of humpback whale vocalisations and song, modelling the effects of climate variabilities on humpback whale acoustic presence, and estimating song similarity as an indicator of exchange among populations. 
Currently I am working on the development of a context-dependent multi-stage detector for fin whale vocalisations. 

Researchgate profile: www.researchgate.net/profile/Elena_Schall


Dr. Ilse van Opzeeland

I see sound as an invaluable resource of information about environments, particularly when it stems from remote underwater environments, such as the Southern Ocean, where most of my work is focused. My current research uses acoustic data as a foundation for developing new concepts of evaluating underwater sound environments (soundscape planning, acoustic biodiversity assessments), but also for the investigation of marine mammal habitat usage. Within the IWC-SORP Acoustic Trends Steering Group (ATG), my interest and contributions evolve around improving our understanding of the behavior and spatio-temporal distribution patterns of Antarctic blue and fin whales in Antarctic waters.


Dr. Karolin Thomisch

My research addresses how the distribution of marine mammals relates to abiotic and biotic environmental factors to explore the ecological role of marine mammals in the Arctic Ocean. Data stem from the interdisciplinary Arctic FRAM ocean observatory, which provides a unique opportunity to gain insight into these interrelationships. I strongly believe that a holistic understanding of the Arctic Ocean ecosystem is essential in view of future management and conservation strategies to preserve this unique and fragile ecosystem.

Starting in November 2020, I will man the International Quiet Ocean Experiment (IQOE) International Project Office and aid coordinating its scientific activities.


Elke Burkhardt

I am a marine biologist with interests in marine mammal distribution, habitat use and marine bioacoustics mainly focusing on larger whales in polar waters. I also have a keen interest in marine noise and its effects on marine life and in developing risk mitigation measures. I am a trained marine mammal observer and currently a member of the German delegation to the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission.





Engineers and technicians

Stefanie Spiesecke

Since Nov. 2010, I am part of the ocean acoustics lab within the physical oceanography section at the AWI. With a background in oceanographic engineering, my tasks are mainly the maintenance, test, preparation and trouble-shooting of instruments (e.g. underwater acoustic recorder, Acoustic Zooplankton and Fish Profiler “AZFP”, RAFOS sound source) for deployment in oceanographic moorings. Additionally I am the technical contact for our PALAOA listening station on the Antarctic shelf. I also take care of securing and pre-processing raw data from recovered instruments. My work involves regular participation in expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic as a member of the oceanographic mooring team.

Current PhD Students

Ramona Mattmueller

I am a marine biologist and bio-acoustician interested in the biodiversity and distribution patterns of marine mammals in polar seas. During my PhD I am analyzing polar ocean (Southern Ocean and Arctic Ocean) passive acoustic monitoring data to investigate the influence of the three soundscape components (biophony, geophony, and anthrophony) on the acoustic environment. Further I will study the spatio-temporal patterns of the marine mammal diversity via their acoustic behavior. I am particularly interested in the impact of anthropogenic noise on polar ocean soundscapes and its impact on the soundscape and (acoustic) ecology of marine mammals (communication behavior, habitat use, and distribution patterns).


Former members and students

PhDs (Doktoranden)

Diego Filun (2022), Uni Bremen

Spatio-temporal patterns of Antarctic minke whale (Balaenoptera bonaerensis) vocal behaviour in the Weddell Sea

Daniel Zitterbart (2013), Uni Erlangen

      Locomotion in Biological Systems

Ilse van Opzeeland (2010), Uni Bremen

      Acoustic ecology of marine mammals in polar oceans

Master students (Master Studenten)

Mercedes Chumbley (2022), Uni Bremen

Spatiotemporal patterns in the occurrence of an unknown sound source in the HAFOS PAM data

Svenja Wöhle (2021/22), Master Uni Oldenburg

   Exploring and verifying the acoustic presence of southern right whales off Elephant Island, Antarctica

Lea Wienecke (2021), Master Uni Bremen

   Variation of antarctic minke whale bioduck call occurrence between years

Victoria Field (2021), Master Uni Bremen 

      Analysis of the geographic variation in fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) calls reveals population identities 

Lisa Ganz (2018), Master Student Research Project Uni Bremen

      A “13-Hz” short call recorded off Elephant Island, Antarctica – By which species is it emitted?

Stefanie Spiesecke (2018), Master University of Applied Sciences Bremen

   Analysis and modelling of RAFOS signal propagation under the Antarctic sea-ice for positioning Argo floats

Rajan, Sahana Soundara (2017), Master HS Bremerhaven

      Development of Image Processing Algorithm for Whale Blow Detection and Optimization

Simone Mueller (2017), Master Uni Oldenburg

      Analysis of humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) sounds from the Southern Ocean

Alicia Schmidt-Roach (2008), Master ISATEC Bremen

      Gray whales, Boat noise and Tourism in Bahia Magdalena, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Anna-Maria Seibert (2007), Master/Diplomarbeit Uni Muenchen

      The Ross seal and its underwater vocalizations

Bachelor students (Bachelor Studenten)

Jule Froehlich (2021), Bachelor Uni Oldenburg

   Evaluating the potential of AM-based classification models to characterize ABW’s acoustic presence in the Southern Ocean – Assessment of call category effect on model performance

Mathis Pohl (2021), Bachelor Uni Oldenburg

   Optimization of acoustic metric-based classification models to detect Antarctic blue whales' acoustic presence in the Southern Ocean - Evaluating the effect of the supervised machine learning algorithm, file format, sampling rate and analyst on model performance

Lea Eichler (2019), Bachelor Universität Bremen

      Vocal Behavior of Antarctic Minke Whales in the Weddell Sea

Svenja Neumann (2017), Bachelor Universität Bremen

      Acoustic diversity of Arctic marine mammals of Fram Strait

Marlene Meister (2017), Bachelor Universität Bremen

      Temporal patterns in the acoustic presence of marine mammals off Elephant Island, Antarctica

Elena Schall (2013), Bachelor Universität Bremen

      Compilation of a call catalogue for Antarctic killer whales (Orcinus orca), Ecotype C

Theresa Schwenke (2013), Bacherlor Universität Bremen

      Underwater acoustic behavior of leopard seals (Hydrurga leptonyx) and Ross seals (Ommatophoca rossii) in Antarctic coastal and offshore habitats

Sebastian Menze (2012), Bachelor Hochschule Bremerhaven

      Passive acoustic monitoring of ambient noise in the Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean

Svenja Zakrzewski (2010), Bachelor Hochschule Bremerhaven

     The PALAOA-S experiment: vocal behaviour of Antarctic pinnipeds and cetaceans during ship's passes.

Interns (Praktikanten)

Cornelia Kreiss

Praktikum Uni Bremen

Louise Rawolle

Praktikum Uni Oldenburg

Laura Richert

HiWi Uni Bremen

Julia Müller

HiWi Uni Bremen

Jenny Bachmann

Praktikum Uni Bremen

Dominik Osztermayer

Praktikum Uni Bremen

Nele Schmidt

HiWi Uni Bremen

Lisa Ganz

HiWi Uni Bremen

Kristina Boerder

Praktikum Uni Bremen

Rike Vooth

Praktikum Uni Bremen

Stefanie Czudaj


Idil Ilgaz Kaya

Internship Middle East Technical University

Former staff members and guests (Frühere Mitarbeiter und Gäste)

Dr. Horst Bornemann

Dr. Lars Kindermann

Victoria Warren

Andy Traumüller

Maryann Watson

Dr. Monika Breitzke

Emmanuelle Leroy, PhD

Abraham Tula

Michael Flau

Geraint Whittaker

Harold Figueroa, PhD

Dr. Samantha Lake

Dr. Ahmed El-Gabbas

Clea Parcerisas