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Meet Laura Dias, Marine Mammal Scientist

June 03, 2021

Part of the series, Faces of the Southeast Fisheries Science Center. Laura Dias serves as a marine mammal observer and data manager during line-transect vessel and aerial surveys. She manages the data collected and assists with analysis and publishing.

Laura Dias finishing a race in a single scull at the Head of the Hooch Regatta in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Laura Dias finishing a race in a single scull at the Head of the Hooch Regatta in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Credit: Photo courtesy of Laura Dias.

Where did you grow up?

I am from Belo Horizonte, Brazil and have been living in the United States since 2004.

Where did you go to school and in what subject did you get your degree(s)?

I did my undergraduate studies in Brazil and got a Master’s degree in Biological Sciences at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida. For my thesis, I studied habitat use and behavioral ecology of Guiana dolphins in Southeast Brazil

How did you come to work at the Southeast Fisheries Science Center?

I started volunteering at the Southeast Fisheries Science Center and with the Southeast Marine Mammal Stranding Network, assisting with marine mammal necropsies and maintenance of cetacean stranding records at the science center. After a few years I was hired to work on projects of the marine mammal program. 

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Laura Dias photographing  bottlenose dolphins during a photo-identification project.
Laura Dias photographing bottlenose dolphins during a photo-identification project. Credit: NOAA Fisheries/ Amy Brossard.

What do you do at the science center?

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Laura Dias getting ready to photograph marine mammals during a research trip.
Laura Dias getting ready to photograph marine mammals during a research trip. Credit: NOAA Fisheries.

I am a Senior Research Associate for the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies. I work on different marine mammal research projects in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coasts. I go out on NOAA research vessels as a data manager and marine mammal observer during marine mammal line-transect and other surveys in the offshore waters of the United States. During field projects close to shore, I participate in different bottlenose dolphin photo-identification surveys where we take pictures of dolphins’ dorsal fins so that we can identify individuals and follow them over time for our research. Back at the lab, I curate the data collected during the surveys and assist with analysis and publishing the results. I’m also one of the curators of the photo-identification catalog for the Gulf of Mexico Bryde’s whale, a newly recognized species.

What do you like most about your position?

Being able to survey in offshore waters and see beautiful creatures that very few people are lucky to encounter, and contributing to their conservation through knowledge and science. 

What do you like to do outside of work?

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Laura Dias, hiking in Nepal, near Everest Base Camp.
Laura Dias, hiking in Nepal, near Everest Base Camp. Credit: Photo courtesy of Laura Dias.

I love rowing and hiking! A few years ago I started rowing competitively and fell in love with the sport. I also seek places around the world to travel where my husband and I can go hiking and be close to nature. 

View Laura's contact card

Last updated by Southeast Fisheries Science Center on July 15, 2021

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