heather pettis

Heather Pettis

Associate Scientist

T: 617-226-2144





M.A., Biology, Boston University, 2001
B.S., Biology, Bates College, 1997


Heather Pettis’ primary research interests are using visual health assessments to examine trends in right whale health at both the individual and population levels and to investigate the impact of anthropogenic injuries on right whale health and survival over time. She played an integral role in the development of the visual health assessment technique for right whales and has advised researchers in the development of assessments for other cetacean species. She serves as the executive administrator for the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium, a collaborative data sharing group committed to long-term research and management efforts to provide management, academic, and conservation groups with the best scientific advice and recommendations on right whale conservation. She is also interested in photo-identification and population monitoring.

  1. Select Publications

    Pettis, H.M., Rolland, R.M., Hamilton, P.K., Knowlton, A.R., Burgess, E.A., Kraus, S.D. (2017). Body condition changes arising from natural factors and fishing gear entanglements in North Atlantic right whales Eubalaena glacialis. Endangered Species Research, 32, 237-249. doi.org/10.3354/esr00800

    Rolland, R.M., Schick, R.S., Pettis, H.M., Knowlton, A.R., Hamilton, P.K., Clark, J.S., Kraus, S.D. 2016. Health of North Atlantic right whales Eubalaena glacialis over three decades: from individual health to demographic and population health trends. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 542:265-282. doi.org/10.3354/meps11547

    Schick, R.S., Kraus, S.D., Rolland, R.M., Knowlton, A.R., Hamilton, P.K., Pettis, H.M., Thomas, L., Harwood, J. and Clark, J.S., 2016. Effects of model formulation on estimates of health in individual right whales (Eubalaena glacialis). In The Effects of Noise on Aquatic Life II (pp. 977-985). Springer New York. doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4939-2981-8_121

    Moore, M.J., Garron, M., Hall, L., Henry, A., Landry, S., Pettis, H.M., Robbins, J., Rotstein, D. van der Hoop, J.M, and Mattila, D. Chronic entanglement trauma of pinnipeds and cetaceans in Moore, M. J, et al. 2013. Criteria and case definitions for serious injury and death of pinnipeds and cetaceans caused by anthropogenic trauma. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 103:229-264. doi.org/10.3354/dao02566

    Schick, R. S., Kraus, S. D., Rolland, R. M., Knowlton, A. R., Hamilton, P. K., Pettis, H. M., Kenney, R.D. and Clark, J. S. 2013. Using Hierarchical Bayes to Understand Movement, Health, and Survival in the Endangered North Atlantic Right Whale. PloS one, 8(6), e64166. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0064166

    Fortune, S.M.E., Trites, A.W., Perryman, W.L., Moore, M.J., Pettis, H.M., Lynn, M.S. 2012. Growth and rapid early development of North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis). Journal of Mammalogy 93(5):1342-1354. doi.org/10.1644/11-MAMM-A-297.1

    Knowlton, A.R., Hamilton, P.K., Marx, M.K., Pettis, H.M., Kraus, S.D. 2012. Monitoring North Atlantic right whale Eubalaena glacialis entanglement rates: A 30 year retrospective. Marine Ecology Progress Series. Vol. 466: 293-302. doi.org/10.3354/meps09923

    Moretti, D., DiMarzio, N., Morrissey, R., Mellinger, D. K., Heimlich, S., and Pettis, HM. 2008. Overview of the 3rd International workshop on the detection and classification of Marine Mammals using passive acoustics. Canadian Acoustics, 36(1), 7-11. jcaa.caa-aca.ca/index.php/jcaa/article/view/1984/1731

    Rolland, RM, Hamilton, PK, Marx, MK, Pettis, HM, Angell, CM, Moore, MJ. 2007. External perspectives on right whale health. Pages 273-309 in: Kraus, SD and Rolland, RM (eds.). The Urban Whale: North Atlantic Right Whales at the Crossroads. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts. doi.org/10.1644/08-MAMM-R-133.1

    Pettis, H.M., R.M. Rolland, P.K. Hamilton, S. Brault, A.R. Knowlton, and S.D. Kraus. 2004. Visual health assessment of endangered North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) using photographs. Can. J. Zool. 82: 8-19. doi.org/10.1139/z03-207

  2. Affiliations