Dr. Heike Vester

photo taken by Johanna Hanno

Dr. Heike Vester, photo taken by Johanna Hanno, Norway 2014

Biologist / Founder / Director of Ocean Sounds
specialized in social behaviour & bio-acoustics of marine animals

Born in Germany, studied Biology in Berlin and moved to Northern Norway in 1998.
1999-2003 Master thesis in Arctic Biology and Physiology at the University of Tromsø.
Moved to Henningsvær / Lofoten in 2004 and founded Ocean Sounds in August 2005.
Since 2003 studies the behavior and communication of Orcas in northern Norway.
Since 2006 studies all whales and dolphins, in particular long-finned pilot whales in the Vestfjord.
2008-2010 Scientific Tourism project in Patagonia, Chile.
2012-2016 lecturer for Animal Behavior and Biology of Marine Mammals  (Marine Mammal Biology (BI227) at the University of Nordland in Bodø and supervised bachelor and master students.
2017 PhD in Biology on the vocal behavior of killer whales and long-finned pilot whales in northern Norway
– in cooperation with the Cognitive Ethology Group/German Primate Center at the University of Göttingen in Germany, the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization.
PhD thesis
Since 2015 whale and dolphin research and conservation in Raja Ampat in cooperation with the University of Papua in Manokwari (Dr. Ricardo Tapilatu), several resorts and Pindito.

..her main interest is to preserve life on this planet by trying to minimize human destruction…

Ellyne Hamran

Ellyne Hamran-2014

Ellyne Hamran-2014

2014 Master of Science Degree in Marine Ecology from the University of Nordland: Distribution and vocal behavior of Atlantic white-sided dolphins (Lagenorhynchus acutus) in northern Norway.

2016 Main Researcher in cooperation with Dr. Heike Vester for the Whales & Dolphins in Norway project. Main research focus on the distribution and behaviour (including acoustic communication) of Atlantic white sided dolphins, long-finned Pilot whales and Orcas.
2016 started stranding network group in Bodoe with a stranded Sowerbys beaked whale. She is leading the Ocean Sounds Bodoe whale club. She also works with whale watching companies (Arctic Whale Tours) to study the whales in Vesteralen and Tromsoe.

2016 Marine Mammal acoustic course studying the anthropocentric disturbances in Husavik, Iceland.

2015 research assistant Dolphin Communication Project studying tactile communication in Atlantic spotted dolphins and bottlenose dolphins in the Bahamas.

She has always loved the ocean since she was a small girl growing up in southern California. She decided to pursue her passion of marine biology and moved to Norway in 2010 to study a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology at the University of Nordland. She started working with Dr. Vester / OceanSounds in 2012 on her bachelor thesis on Killer Whale Photo-ID and completed her degree in 2012. She further pursued working with OceanSounds on her master thesis studying the vocal behavior and distribution of the Atlantic white-sided dolphins in northern Norway. Her Master project was supported by Lofotrådet / Bo i Lofoten!

Tobias Kostial

OceanSounds 2nd director photographer, tour operator (, he started working with Heike in 2010 and has now (2014) joined the charity.

 Madita Zetzsche

German, came for the first time to Norway in 2006 for holidays and met Heike & Ocean Sounds and has been an assistant since. During her summer breaks from school she helped Oceans Sounds during 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2014. Her work with Ocean Sounds inspired Madita to learn more about bio-acoustics and she volunteered at the archive for animals sounds / HU Berlin.
She is now studying Biology at the University of Berlin and assists with the Orca Project of Ocean Sounds and the MPI in Göttingen. She is working on the OceanSounds Killer Whale Photo-ID project.

„As I always wished to be one with the waves -OceanSoul- “

Dr. Florencia Noriega

Florencia developed algorithms for analysing bioacoustic signals; form the early stage of automatically annotating recordings to the study of temporal and combinatorial structures in the vocalisations. She started working with Heike in 2013 as part of her PhD project at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization, Göttigen, Germany.
Florencia will continue as our main data analyst.
PhD thesis

Nicola Rehn

Biologist – Specialized in bioacoustics and behaviour of marine mammals

Nicola is a German behavioural biologist and specialized in killer whale bioacoustics and behaviour. She started working with Heike and Ocean Sounds in June 2016.

Nicola has a Master of Science degree from the University of Hamburg, Germany, and wrote her Master’s thesis on the vocalizations and behaviour of killer whales in the North Pacific. In the year 2000 she started research on killer whales and worked as an independent biologist on several marine mammal projects in Canada, Scotland and Germany since then.

When she heard killer whales the first time on a hydrophone, during her stay on a small uninhabited Canadian island, she immediately wanted to know more about the communication and the behaviour of these fascinating animals. This moment was very special because there was absolutely no boat noise during the hydrophone recording; only the beautiful calls of killer whales. She is still fascinated every time she hears marine mammal vocalizations because we still know so very little about their communication.

Currently, Nicola is updating Ocean Sounds photo-ID catalogue of the Norwegian killer whale population together with Madita Zetzsche.

Felipe Matos

Felipe Matos

Brazilian who moved to Norway in 2008, got a bachelor’s degree in Biology at the University of Nordland in Bodø in 2013.
2015 Master in Marine Ecology at the University of Nordland in Bodø. His project in partnership with Dr. Vester / Ocean Sounds was to study distribution of Marine Mammals in the Vestfjorden from 2006 – 2014 using data acquired by Dr. Vester, and correlate this data with sea temperature, fishing, whale hunting, sonar activity, and seismic surveys.

The goal is to monitor marine mammal abundance and see how human activity may or may not have influenced whale distribution in the fjord, and how it changes over time.
His project is supported by Lofotrådet / Bo i Lofoten!

“Distribution of cetaceans in Ves1jorden, Norway, and possible impacts of seismic surveys”
Master thesis by Felipe Matos, Faculty of Biosciences and Aquaculture, University of Nordland
May 2015

 Patrick Griffin

Joined Ocean Sounds in July 2014, is now working as skipper, field research assistant, graphic analysis, 3D Visualiser and Sailing Instructor. He lives in Ireland and helped Ocean Sounds in Lofoten and Raja Ampat 2015/2016.

Astrid Tonka Maehner

Digital Illustration - ©Astrid-Tonka

Digital Illustration – ©Astrid-Tonka

Graphic design, web & illustration. She lives in Germany and made all graphic medias including the website for Ocean Sounds.

 Karolein Noack

Joined Ocean Sounds in 2011 and helps as crew and field assistant and is responsible for social media, she has a background in social sciences (Master in Social Science) and lives in Lofoten.

Tom vanEe 


Student of environmental conservation and management, in the Netherlands, is assisting Ocean Sounds in the field (since 2014) and helps with Photo-ID and video analysis.

 Klaus Ammon


Board member, lives in Germany and is our man for paperwork, marketing, photography, fundraising and all other things that come up.


Scientific Cooperation


Dr. Kurt Hammerschmidt, Cognitive Ethology Group, German Primate Center and University of Goettingen, Germany.


Network Dynamics Group at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics & Self-organization in Goettingen, Germany. Prof.Dr. Marc Timme,  Dr.Sarah Hallerberg ; Dr. Jan Nagler, Florencia Noriega.


Prof. Dr. Jarle Nordeide, University of Nordland, Bodø, Norway.


Fabien Bourlon, Center for Scientific Tourism, CIEP, Chile.


AMBAR, Cetacean Research Biscay, Spain.


MAREFA, The Marine Research and Education Fund of Andenes, Norwegen.


Fredrik Broms, Humpback whale fluke project, AkvaplanNiva Tromsø, Norwegen. We share our photos and sighting information whit Fredrik since 2010.


Dr. Charlotte Cure, CEREMA Dter Est, Regional Laboratory of Strasbourg, Acoustic Group, France. Long-finned Pilot whale Research in the Vestfjord since 2013.


Dr. Patrick Miller, (Reader) Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU), University of St. Andrews, UK.
Long-finned Pilot whale Research in the Vestfjord since 2013.