Cormac Booth

Dom Tollit

Principal Scientist (NA)


Dom has over 27 years experience studying the behavioural ecology, foraging, and population dynamics of marine predators. His primary research interests are to understand the ecological role of pinnipeds in coastal habitats and to define key parameters within multi-species environmental risk assessment frameworks. Following a PhD at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, Dom worked for SMRU in St. Andrews University, the University of Tasmania and the National Trust for Fiji, before leading a Steller sea lion foraging ecology research program at the University of British Columbia. Since 2009, Dom has undertaken a variety of North American based consultancy projects while working for SMRU Consulting North America, including noise impact assessment, environmental and acoustic-based monitoring programs and pinniped ecological research. His collaborative research has led to more than 33 journal publications in the field of marine mammal science. Recent project experience includes working with industry, NGOs, federal and local regulators (DFO, NOAA, CSLC) and a variety of academic institutions in Canada and the USA. He is currently the technical advisor to Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s ECHO program and actively involved in improving Population Consequences of Disturbance (PCOD) assessments. In his free time, Dom works as a Scientist in Residence for the Vancouver School Board.

  • Foraging ecology: PhD involved seal scat diet analyses, captive feeding studies, seal radio-tracking and habitat modeling and prey selection analyses. Post-doc research included deploying satellite telemetry, heart rate and stomach temperature sensors on elephant seals and developing and validating traditional and new dietary assessment tools including DNA, fatty acid signature dietary profiling and stable isotopes.
  • Population dynamics: developed a wide range of practical monitoring skills involving seal capture/tagging, vessel based line-transect surveys, photo-ID and brand re-sight surveys, focal animal scan sampling and theodolite surveys, and land-based and aerial-based population censuses.
  • Physiology: Experienced in the various physiology-based techniques, including blood sampling, D2O assessments, and respirometry.
  • Assessing anthropogenic impacts on marine mammals: passive acoustic monitoring data collection, C-POD and PAMGuard analyses, development of noise and strike risk assessment frameworks and a member of the Expert Working Group for GOMEX noise risk framework. Member of PMV’s ECHO Advisory Working Group team, member of DFO Noise mitigation CSAS working group and Vancouver Aquarium (CORI) SRKW Noise Metric working group.
  • On-water: BSAC advanced SCUBA Diver, advanced powerboat certificate, VHF radio operators license.
  • Project Management: proven experience in designing and managing large and complex environmental research programs for both academia and industry.

Fritz, L., B. Brost, E. Laman, K. Luxa, K. Sweeney, J. Thomason, D. Tollit, W. Walker and T. Zeppelin (2019) A re-examination of the relationship between Steller sea lion diet and population trend using data from the Aleutian Islands. Canadian Journal of Zoology 97 1137-1155.

Verfuss, UK, Gillespie, D., Gordon, J, Marques, T., Miller, B. Plunkett, R., Theriault J, Tollit, D., Zitterbart, D., Hubert P and L Thomas (In Press). Comparing methods suitable for monitoring marine mammals in low visibility conditions during seismic surveys. Marine Pollution Bulletin MPB-D-17-00608R1

Tollit, D.J., L. Fritz, R. Joy, K. Miller, A. Schulze, J. Thomason, W. Walker, T. Zeppelin, T.S. Gelatt (2017). Diet of endangered Steller sea lions in the Aleutian Islands: New insights from DNA detections and bio-energetic reconstructions. Canadian Journal of Zoology 95(11): 853–868, year 2017, doi: 10.1139/cjz-2016-0253.

Gomez, C., Lawson, J.W., Wright, A.J., Buren, A., Tollit, D. & Lesage, V. (2016). A systematic review on the behavioural responses of wild marine mammals to noise: the disparity between science and policy. Canadian Journal of Zoology. 2016, 94(12): 801-819,

Tollit, D.J., Wong, M.A, and Trites, A. (2015). Diet composition of Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus) in Frederick Sound, Southeast Alaska: a comparison of quantification methods using scats to describe temporal and spatial variability. Canadian Journal of Zoology.

Stricker, C. A., Christ, A. M., Wunder, M. B., Doll, A. C., Farley, S. D., Rea, L. D., Rosen, D.A.S, Scherer, R.D., and Tollit, D. J. (2015). Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope trophic enrichment factors for Steller sea lion vibrissae relative to milk and fish/invertebrate diets. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 523, 255-266.

Rosen, D.A.S and Tollit, D.J. (2012). Effects of phylogeny and prey type on fatty acid calibration coefficients in three pinniped species: implications for the QFASA dietary quantification technique. Marine Ecology Progress Series 467, 263-276.

Tollit, D.J., A.D. Schulze, A.W. Trites, P. Olesiuk, S.J. Crockford, T. Gelatt, R.R. Ream and K.M. Miller (2009). Development and application of DNA techniques for validating and improving pinniped diet estimates. Ecological Applications 19 4, 889-905.

Sigler, M.F., Tollit, D.J., Vollenweider, J.J., Thedinga, J.F., Womble, J.N., Wong, M.A, Csepp, D.J., and Trites, A.W. (2009). Foraging response of a marine predator to prey availability. Marine Ecology Progress Series 38, 243-261.

Rosen, D.A., Tollit, D.J., Winship, A.J., and Trites, A.W. (2006). Potential effects of short-term prey changes on sea lion physiology. In Sea Lions of the World. A.W. Trites, S. Atkinson, D.P. DeMaster, L.W. Fritz, T.S. Gelatt, L.D. Rea and K. Wynne (eds). pp. 103-116. Alaska Sea Grant College Program, University of Alaska, Fairbanks. pp.

Tierney, M, Hindell, M.A, Lea, M.A. and Tollit, D.J. (2001). A comparison of techniques used to estimate body condition of southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina). Wildlife Research 28, 581-588.

Thompson, P.M., Tollit, D.J., Wood, D.G., Corpe, H.M., P.S. Hammond, P.S. and Mackay, A. (1997). Estimating harbour seal abundance and status in an estuarine habitat in N.E. Scotland. Journal of Applied Ecology 34, 43-52.

Tollit, D.J., Black, A.D., Thompson, P.M., Mackay, A., Corpe, H.M., Wilson, B., Van Parijs, S.M., Grellier, K. and Parlane, S. (1998). Variations in harbour seal (Phoca vitulina) diet and dive-depths in relation to foraging habitat. Journal of Zoology, London 244, 209-222.

Tollit, D.J., and Thompson, P.M. (1996). Seasonal and between-year variations in the diet of harbour seals in the Moray Firth, Scotland. Canadian Journal of Zoology 74, 1110-1121.

  • Marine mammal observer support for ECHO Program & Pacheedaht First Nation- The objective of this work is to better understand marine mammal presence and habitat use, with a focus on southern resident killer whales, at Swiftsure Bank and in Juan de Fuca Strait, through partnership with Pacheedaht First Nation. SMRU Consulting NA and Sea View Marine Sciences will together provide training, guidance and on-going support to Pacheedaht First Nation crew on marine mammal identification, field data collection and reporting.
  • Development of an aggregate noise risk assessment for marine mammals and Atlantic offshore wind developments- BOEM funded 2 year project to assess relative risk of underwater noise to marine mammals from offshore wind farm construction and operations in the Atlantic. Work partners are Brandon Southall (SEA), Bill Ellison and Chris Clark (Marine Acoustics). The work builds on a cumulative risk assessment framework developed for oil and gas seismic activity in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Commercial vessel noise monitoring and mitigation assessments for the Port of Vancouver’s ECHO program, including the summer 2017 Haro Strait voluntary vessel slow down trial.
  • Comparing the disturbance effects of large vessel noise and whale watch boat noise on Southern Resident Killer whale for Port of Vancouver’s ECHO program
  • Environmental Effects Monitoring Program for FORCE at a tidal turbine demonstration site in the Bay of Fundy
  • Population Consequence of Disturbance Expert Elicitation for Cook Inlet Beluga for NOAA and Arctic Walrus for US Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Steller sea lion DNA diet study collaborating with NOAA and DFO and funded by NPRB
  • Gulf of Mexico industry noise impact assessment analytical framework for seismic airguns, funded by industry (v1) and NOAA and BOEM (v2)
  • Southern resident killer whale underwater noise exposure and acoustic masking study
  • Ambient noise and baseline killer whale detections in core critical habitat of southern resident killer whales in Haro Strait
  • Southern resident killer whale habitat use in the Salish sea
  • 3D seismic survey marine mammal Environmental Impact Review on behalf of California State Land Commission
  • Noise effects study at the Admiralty Inlet tidal site in Washington state on behalf of the US Department of Energy, collaborating with NNMREC and PNNL
  • Noise impact assessment study on Caspian seals for an AGIP Oil and Gas facility expansion in the Caspian Sea
  • Passive acoustic monitoring baseline study at the Minas Passage tidal site in Nova Scotia on behalf of FORCE and OERA, collaborating with the University of Acadia
  • Marine mammal monitoring and killer whale risk assessment for Admiralty Inlet tidal site in Washington state on behalf of Snohomish PUD and HDR-DTA
  • Passive Acoustic Monitoring study at the Admiralty Inlet tidal site in Washington state on behalf of Snohomish PUD, collaborating with University of Washington

+1 (604) 737-7678

1529 West 6th Ave., Suite 510
Vancouver, BC V6J 1R1 Canada