Dr Natacha Aguilar de Soto

Dr Natacha Aguilar de Soto
Visiting Scholar


Visiting Scholar since end of Marie Slodowska Curie Fellowship (2015-2017).

Ramon y Cajal fellow at University of La Laguna (Tenerife)

My research has two main avenues: cetaceans (from foraging ecology to population and conservation biology) and impacts of underwater acoustic pollution on marine fauna. During project ECOSOUND I combined work at CREEM with continuing a long-term cetacean research line at the University of La Laguna (ULL), in the Canary Islands. Now I am Visiting Scholar at University of St Andrews, and work fulltime at ULL with a Ramón y Cajal fellowship.

My work at CREEM was funded by the EU Horizon2020 project ECOSOUND, summarized below:


The Marie Slodowska Curie project ECOSOUND (May 2015-May 2017, Horizon 2020) targeted issues of underwater noise impacts on marine fauna, from invertebrates to marine mammals. The project included experimental work at sea and in the laboratory, analysis of a large dataset of biologging data of pilot and beaked whales and systematic literature reviews. Also, in synergy to the research activities planned initially in ECOSOUND, the fellow led six competitive research projects as PI. The results of the research were reported in 17 contributions to 8 international conferences and published in 9 peer-reviewed articles and 3 conference proceedings and book chapters. Also, the research based or contributed to two PhD and 7 MSc thesis supervised by the ECOSOUND fellow. Knowledge generated during the project was transferred to the governments of UK, New Zealand and Spain and to the UN family of agreements Convention of Migratory Species-ACCOBAMS-ASCOBANS, as well as to the International Whaling Commission and the International Maritime Organization, among other stakeholders. Outreach was achieved in the form of the participation of the fellow in three documentaries (two with large international divulgation by SKY channel and National Geographic Wild/ARTE) and numerous contributions to web-based and printed-press, radio and tv media. The fellow culminated ECOSOUND with the award of a long-term research and teaching position at the University of La Laguna, Canary Islands, Spain, where she will continue working on research subjects related to ECOSOUND and with international collaborators gained during this project.


Peer-reviewed papers, book chapters and conference proceedings:

  1. Aguilar, N., Martín, V., Silva, M. A., Edler, R., Reyes, C., Carrillo, M., Schiavi, A., Morales, T., García, B., Sánchez, A., García, N., Steiner, L., Scheer, M., Gocker, R., Walker, D., Villa, E., Szlama, P., Carroll, E. L. (2017) True´s beaked whale in Macaronesia. PeerJ. 10.7717/peerj.3059 This paper was selected by PeerJ to make an "author interview" available here:
  2. Aguilar de Soto, N. & Kight, C. (2016). Physiological effects of noise. Ch. 8 in Solan, M. & Whiteley, N. (Eds) Stressors in the Marine Environment. Physiological and Ecological Responses and Societal Implications. Oxford University Press. 350 pp.
  3. Aguilar de Soto, N. (2016). Peer-Reviewed Studies on the Effects of Anthropogenic Noise on Marine Invertebrates: From Scallop Larvae to Giant Squid. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology. Springer. DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4939-2981-8_3,
  4. Aguilar de Soto et al. (15 authors) (2016). From physiology to policy: A review of physiological noise effects on marine fauna with implications for mitigation. Proceedings of Meetings on Acoustics (POMA).
  5. Ariza, A., Landeira, J.M., Escánez, A., Wienerroither, R.M., Aguilar, N., Røstad, A., Kaartvedt, S. & Hernández-León, S. (2016) Vertical distribution, composition and migratory patterns of acoustic scattering layers in the Canary Islands. Journal of Marine Systems.
  6. Fais A., Lewis T. P., Zitterbart D. P., Álvarez O. and Aguilar de Soto N. (2016) Are ship strikes sustainable for sperm whales in the Canary Islands? PLoS ONE 11(3): e0150660. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0150660.
  7. Fais A., Johnson M., Wilson M., Aguilar Soto N. & Madsen P.T. (2016) Echolocating sperm whales and their prey: Chasing and buzzing, but no big bangs. Scientific Reports. doi:10.1038/srep28562
  8. Martin Lopez, Aguilar de Soto, Miller, Johnson (2016) Tracking the kinematics of caudal-oscillatory swimming: a comparison of two on-animal sensing methods. Journal of Experimental Biology.219 (4) 2103-2109 doi: 10.1242/jeb.136242
  9. Marrero, J., Jensen, F., Laia, L., Aguilar de Soto, N. (2016) Different modes of acoustic communication in deep-diving short-finned pilot whales. Marine Mammal Science.
  10. Martín, L.; Miller, P; Aguilar, N; Johnson, M. (2015) Gait switches and fast twitches: biomechanical strategies for long diving in beaked whales. Journal of Experimental Biology. 218, 1325-1338. Doi: 10.1242/jeb.106013

Participation in expert panels and workshops

i) Department of Conservation of New Zealand: “Technical Working Group Report on Recommendations for Biological Relevant Sound Levels”. (February 2016). Technical Working Group Members and Affiliations: Bob Gisiner (IAGC); Jakob Tougaard (Aarhus University); Sander von Benda-Beckmann (TNO); Russell Leaper (Aberdeen University); Rob McCauley (Curtin University); Rob Williams (St. Andrews University); Manuel Castellote (NOAA) ; Natacha Aguilar de Soto (St. Andrews University & La Laguna University).

ii) UK Department of Energy and Climate Change's offshore energy Strategic Environmental Assessment programme: “Beaked whales: a review of distribution and abundance in UK waters and new information on life history, diving behaviour and ecology, noise impacts, approaches to monitoring and options for mitigation”. (2017) Natacha Aguilar de Soto, Douglas Gillespie, Philip Hammond, Mark Johnson, Cristel Reyes, Peter Tyack. University of St. Andrews.

iii) Convention of Migratory Species (CMS). CMS Family Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines for Noise-generating Offshore Industries: Implementation Report. UNEP/CMS/ScC-SC1/Doc.10.2.3/Rev.1. (April 2016)

iv) Working Group on Cetacean Ship Strike Prevention in the Canary Islands (on-going).


  • ECS (European Cetacean Society conference). Middlefart, Denmark. April 2017
  • Magrebian Congress on Aquatic Sciences. Fez. Marocco. December 2016
  • ECS (European Cetacean Society conference). Madeira, Portugal. March 2016
  • 4th Conference on the effects of noise on aquatic fauna. Dublin. June 2016.
  • Sea Mammals and Sonar Symposium. St. Andrews. UK. October 2015. Presentations available at
  • Spanish National Biodiversity Conference. Tenerife, Spain. May 2015.
  • OCEANOISE Conference. Catalunya, Spain, May 2015
  • Mistic Seas (EU-funded project to identify indicators for the Marine Strategy Framework Directive in Macaronesia). Meeting of expert group. Azores. March 2016


  • IP. Assessing the resilience of beake whales to human impacts. Funded by the Office of Naval Research to ULL with partners from USA, Italy, Denmark and UK (University of St. Andrews). (2016-2019)
  • Co-IP. Heart rate logging in deep-diving cetaceans. A new tool for assessing disturbance. Funded by the Office of Naval Research to Moss Landing Laboratory (USA) with partners from USA, Spain (University of La Laguna) and UK (University of St. Andrews) (2016-2019)
  • Co-IP. Stimating beaked whale density from passive acoustic recorders. Funded by the Office of Naval Research to ULL and University of St. Andrews. (2016-2018)
  • IP. Canarias con la Mar: conservación de la pardela chica y el cachalote en Canarias. Funded by Fundación Biodiversidad-MAGRAMA to GIC-ULL. (2014-2015)
  • IP. Monitoreo de zifios en El Hierro. Funded by Fundación Biodiversidad-MAGRAMA to ULL. (2015-june 2016)
  • IP. Population Parametes of Beaked Whales. Funded by the Office of Naval Research to ULL. (2012-may 2015)

PhD and Master thesis supervised by the fellow


  • Jacobo Marrero. Acoustic communication of short finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus). ULL. February 2016. PhD cum laude with international mention.


  • Talía Morales. Seasonal distribution of cetaceans in the Canary Islands. Master in Marine Biodiversity. ULL. Defended in May 2015 (marks: 9.6 over 10)
  • Salvador Hernández. Cetacean distribution in the waters of Malta studied with visual and acoustic surveys. Master in Marine Biodiversity. ULL. Defended in May 2015 (marks: 9.2 over 10)
  • Jesús Alcazar. Acoustic behaviour of Blainville´s beaked whales. ULL. Defended in March 2016 (marks: 10 over 10, Special Honours Mention)
  • Anna Sánchez. Abundance and seasonal distribution of rough toothed dolphins (Steno bredanensis) in El Hierro. ULL. June 2016. (marks: 9.5 over 10)
  • Cristina Reyes. Beaked whale population dynamics. Co-supervision with Prof. Phil Hammond. University of St Andrews. June 2017.
  • Adrián Hernández. Population abundance of humpback whales in Carlos III. Chile. ULL. May 2017. (marks: 9.8 over 10)
  • Daniel García. Acoustic estimation of abundance of beaked whales in the Canary Islands. ULL. May 2017. (marks: 9.9 over 10, proposed for Special Honours Mention)


Brasil, river dolphin research (Inia araguayanensis). August 2016

Beaked whale monitoring (genetics, photoID, passive acoustics). El Hierro. May 2015.

Experiments of noise on marine invertebrates from June 2016


In addition to the web page of the project, results of ECOSOUND were communicated to the public via specific web-based and traditional media news in numerous occassions. The publication of two peer-reviewed articles (Fais et al. 2016) and Aguilar de Soto et al. (2017) was particularly well received by the media. In addition to normal web, printed press and radio coverage, Fais et al. (2016) was covered in international blogs ( This was the case also with Aguilar de Soto et al. (2017) (see links to news at, which was chosen by the journal for an author interview ( The paper included a video of the first underwater images of the rare True´s beaked whale (Mesoplodon mirus). This video was uploaded by the journal to YouTube and viewed more than 600,000 times. The scale of the news made that the author was interviewed for journals such as the Washington Post or the Times, and children international web natural history magazines.

An additional outreach was the contribution of sounds from beaked, pilot and sperm whales to the collection of animal vocalizations of the Spanish Museum of National Sciences:

The research on beaked whales of ECOSOUND was featured in two international documentaries, one performed and distributed by SKY Channel (see link below), and the other performed by the French company St Thomas Productions and distributed by National Geographic Wild and ARTE channels (this is to be released in August 2017).

source: symbiosis


18 (of 18 /dk/atira/pure/researchoutput/status/published available) for na30. (source: University of St Andrews PURE)
Please click title of any item for full details

An autonomous hydrophone array to study the acoustic ecology of deep-water toothed whales Chloe Elizabeth Malinka, John Atkins, Mark Johnson, Pernille Tønnesen, Charlotte Dunn, Natacha Aguilar de Soto, Peter Teglberg Madsen
Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers 2020 vol. 158
Fear of killer whales drives extreme synchrony in deep diving beaked whales Natacha Aguilar de Soto, Fleur Visser, Peter Lloyd Tyack, Jesús Alcazar, Graeme Douglas Ruxton, Patricia Arranz, Peter T. Madsen, Mark Johnson
Scientific Reports 2020 vol. 10
Advances in research on the impacts of anti-submarine sonar on beaked whales Y. Bernaldo De Quirós, A. Fernandez, R. W. Baird, R. L. Brownell, Natacha Aguilar de Soto, D. Allen, M. Arbelo, M. Arregui, A. Costidis, A. Fahlman, A. Frantzis, F. Gulland, M. Iñíguez, Mark Johnson, A. Komnenou, H. Koopman, D. A. Pabst, W. D. Roe, E. Sierra, M. Tejedor, G. Schorr
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 2019 vol. 286
Deep-diving pilot whales make cheap, but powerful, echolocation clicks with 50 µL of air Ilias Foskolos, Natacha Aguilar de Soto, Peter Teglberg Madsen, Mark Johnson
Scientific Reports 2019 vol. 9
Future directions in research on beaked whales Sascha Kate Hooker, Natacha Aguilar de Soto, Robin W. Baird, Emma Louise Carroll, Laura Feyrer, Patrick Miller, Aubrie Onoufriou, Greg Schorr, Hal Whitehead
Frontiers in Marine Science 2019 vol. 5
Night-life of Bryde’s whales Sahar Izadi, Mark Johnson, Natacha Aguilar de Soto, Rochelle Constantine
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 2018 vol. 72
The challenge of habitat modelling for threatened low density species using heterogeneous data Ana Maria Canadas, Natacha Aguilar de Soto, M. Aissi, A. Arcangeli, M. Azzolin, A. B-Nagy, G Bearzi, I. Campana, C. Chicote, Cedric Cotte, R. Crosti, L David, A. Di Natale, A. Frantzis, P. Garcia, M. Gazo, R. Gutierrez-Xarxa, D. Holcer, S. Laran, G. Lauriano, T Lewis, A. Moulins, B. Mussi, G. Notarbartolo di Sciara, Simone Panigada, X. Pastor, E. Politi, M. Pulcini, J.A. Raga, Luke Edward Rendell, M. Rosso, P. Tepsich, J. Tomás, M. Tringali, Th. Roger
Ecological Indicators 2018 vol. 85 pp. 128-136
Different modes of acoustic communication in deep-diving short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) Jacobo Marrero Perez, Frants H. Jensen, Laia Rojano-Doñate, Natacha Aguilar de Soto
Marine Mammal Science 2017 vol. 33 pp. 59-79
Spatio-temporal variation in click production rates of beaked whales Victoria E. Warren, Tiago A. Marques, Danielle Harris, Len Thomas, Peter Lloyd Tyack, Natacha Aguilar de Soto, Mark Johnson
Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 2017 vol. 141 pp. 1962-1974
True’s beaked whale (Mesoplodon mirus) in Macaronesia Natacha Aguilar de Soto, Vidal Martin, Monica Silva, Roland Edler, Cristel Reyes, Manuel Carrillo, Agustina Schiavi, Talia Morales, Belen García-Ovide, Anna Sanchez-Mora, Nerea Garcia-Tavero, Lisa Steiner, Michael Scheer, Roland Gockel, Dylan Walker, Enrico Villa, Petra Szlama, Ida K. Eriksson, Marisa Tejedor, Monica Perez-Gil, João Quaresma, Wojtek Bachara, Emma Louise Carroll
PeerJ 2017 vol. 5
Abundance and distribution of sperm whales in the Canary Islands Andrea Fais, Tim P. Lewis, Daniel P. Zitterbart, Omar Álvarez, Ana Tejedor, Natacha Aguilar de Soto
PLoS ONE 2016 vol. 11 pp. 1-16
From physiology to policy Natacha Aguilar de Soto, Kalliopi Charitomeni Gkikopoulou, Sascha Kate Hooker, Saana Isojunno, Mark Johnson, Patrick Miller, Peter Lloyd Tyack, Paul Wensveen, Carl Robert Donovan, Catriona M Harris, Danielle Harris, Laura Helen Marshall, Cornelia Sabrina Oedekoven, Rocio Prieto, Len Thomas
Proceedings of Meetings on Acoustics 2016 vol. 27
Sperm whale predator-prey interactions involve chasing and buzzing, but no acoustic stunning A. Fais, Mark Johnson, M. Wilson, Natacha Aguilar de Soto, P. T. Madsen
Scientific Reports 2016 vol. 6
Tracking the kinematics of caudal-oscillatory swimming Lucía Martina Martín López, Natacha Aguilar de Soto, Patrick Miller, Mark Johnson
Journal of Experimental Biology 2016 vol. 219 pp. 2103-2109
Mitigation of vessel-strike mortality of endangered Bryde's whales in the Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand Rochelle Constantine, Mark Johnson, Leena Riekkola, Stephanie Jervis, Lily Kozmian-Ledward, Todd Dennis, Leigh G. Torres, Natacha Aguilar de Soto
Biological Conservation 2015 vol. 186 pp. 149-157
Single-click beam patterns suggest dynamic changes to the field of view of echolocating Atlantic Spotted Dolphins (Stenella frontalis) in the wild Frants Jensen, Magnus Wahlberg, Kristian Beedholm, Mark Johnson, Natacha Aguilar de Soto, Peter Madsen
Journal of Experimental Biology 2015 vol. 218 pp. 1314-1324
Sperm whale echolocation behaviour reveals a directed, prior-based search strategy informed by prey distribution A. Fais, Natacha Aguilar de Soto, Mark Johnson, C. Pérez-González, Patrick Miller, P.T. Madsen
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 2015 vol. 69 pp. 663-674
A new method to study inshore whale cue distribution from land-based observations Patricia Arranz, David Louis Borchers, Natacha Aguilar de Soto, Mark Johnson, Martin James Cox
Marine Mammal Science 2014 vol. 30 pp. 810-818

Contact Details:

Dr Natacha Aguilar de Soto



School of Biology
Scottish Oceans Institute

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The Secretary
Scottish Oceans Institute
Institiud Chuantan na h-Alba
Gatty Marine Laboratory
East Sands St Andrews
KY16 8LB

tel: +44 (0) 1334 463472
fax: +44 (0) 1334 463443