Ester Quintana, Ph.D.

Research Scientist
Social Behavior, Bioacoustics, and Conservation

T: 617-226-2195



Ph.D., Biological Oceanography, College of Marine Science, University of South Florida, 2006
M.S., Zoology, Department of Zoology, University of Florida, 1999
Licenciatura, Biology, Department of Biology, Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala, 1993


Ester Quintana, Ph.D., is the lead scientist of the marine mammal surveys conducted in the offshore waters of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, MA. The research examines the density and abundance of large whales (right, humpback, finback, and minke) in an area proposed for offshore wind energy development. The research also involves oceanographic sampling (conducted by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) to assess prey species and oceanographic conditions around right whale aggregations.

In addition to this work, Quintana is interested in marine mammal social behavior and bioacoustics. She has studied bottlenose dolphin social structure, associations, resighting patterns, and social communication. She also studies the habitat use, social behavior, and long-distance movements of humpback whales in the tropical breeding ground of Guatemala. Quintana has developed and contributed in the preparation of management plans for manatees. This includes working for the United Nations Environmental Program in the development of the management plan for the West Indian manatee in the Caribbean region.

  1. Select Publications

    Baumgartner, M., J. Bonnell, S.M. Van Parijs, P.J. Corkeron, C. Hotchkin, K. Ball, L.P. Pelletier, J. Partan, D. Peters, J. Kemp, J. Pietro, K. Newhall, A. Stokes, T.V.N. Cole, E. Quintana-Rizzo, and S.D. Kraus. 2019. Persistent near real‐time passive acoustic monitoring for baleen whales from a moored buoy: System description and evaluation. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 00:1–14.

    Quintana-Rizzo, E. 2019. Distribution and abundance of whales in Guatemala with emphasis on the behavior of the humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae). Book chapter In: Research perspectives on the wild mammals of Guatemala, C. Kraker, A. P. Calderón and A. A. Cabrera (Eds.). Guatemala City, Guatemala: Asociación Guatemalteca de Mastozoólogos, pp. 247-261. ISBN: 978-9929-726-33-8 (digital). Book chapter: Distribution and abundance of whales in Guatemala with emphasis on the behavior of the humpback whale  | eBook: Perspectivas de investigación sobre los mamíferos silvestres de Guatemala 

    Romero, I.C, T. Sutton, B. Carr, E. Quintana-Rizzo, S.W. Ross, D.J. Hollander, and J. Torrres. 2018. Decadal assessment of polyclic aromatic hydrocarborns in mesopelagic fishes from the Guld of Mexico reveals exposure to oil-derived sources. Environmental Science & Technology Letters 52:10985-10996.

    Quintana-Rizzo, E., L. García, R. López, S. Tobar and A. López. 2017. First record of a Galapagos fur seal (Arctocephalus galapagoensis) in Guatemala. Marine Biodiversity Records 10:24.

    Quintana-Rizzo, E. and R.S. Wells. 2016. Behavior of a non-related female bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) towards the calf of her associate. Aquatic Mammals 42:198-202.

    Quintana-Rizzo, E., J. Torres, S.W. Ross, I. Romero, K. Watson, E. Goodard, and D. Hollander. 2015. Changes in d13C and d15N in deep-living fishes and shrimps after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Gulf of Mexico. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. 94:241-50.

    Quintana-Rizzo, E. 2014. Illegal harpooning and incidental entanglement of wild dolphins in the Pacific Coast of Guatemala. Latin American Journal of Aquatic Mammals 9:179-182.

    Castelblanco-Martínez, D.M., C. Nourisson, E. Quintana-Rizzo, J.A. Padilla-Saldivar, and J.J. Schmitter-Soto. 2012. Potential effects of human pressure and habitat fragmentation on population viability of the Antillean manatee Trichechus manatus manatus: A predictive model. Endangered Species 18:129-145.

    Simard, P., Lace, N., S. Gowans, E. Quintana-Rizzo, S. Kuczaj II, R. Wells, and D. Mann 2011. Low frequency narrow-band calls in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus): signal properties, function and conservation implications. Journal of the Acoustic Society of America 130:3068–3076.

    Quintana-Rizzo, E. and J.R. Reynolds III. 2010. Management plan for the West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus). United Nations Environmental Program.

    Quintana-Rizzo, E., D.A. Mann, and R.S. Wells. 2006. Estimated acoustic communication range of social sounds used by bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). Journal of the Acoustic Society of America 120:1671-1683.

    Fripp, D., C. Owen, E. Quintana-Rizzo, A. Shapiro, K. Buckstaff, R.S. Wells, and P. Tyack. 2004. Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) calves appear to model their signature whistle on the signature whistles of community members. Animal Cognition 8:17-26.

    Quintana-Rizzo, E. and R.S. Wells. 2001. Resighting and association patterns of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the Cedar Keys, Florida: insights into social organization.  Canadian Journal of Zoology 79:447-456.


  2. News

  3. Awards

    Best Graduate Student Paper. 13th. International Reunion for the Study of Marine Mammals. Mexican Society of Marine Mammalogy 1998

    Fulbright /LASPAU Scholarship 1995-1997


  4. Affiliations