Wendy Noke Durden MS

Research Scientist II

Marine Mammal Health and Population Ecology

Major Research Areas

Marine Mammal Conservation, Fishery Interactions and Population Biology


  • M.S., Biological Sciences, University of Central Florida B.S.,
  • Biological Sciences, University of Central Florida B.S.,
  • Psychology, University of Central Florida

Current Research

  • Population biology of estuarine dolphins
  • Estuarine dolphin habitat use
  • Marine mammal health and ecology
  • Post-release monitoring of dolphins: Evaluating intervention success

Wendy Noke Durden is a Research Scientist II at Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute’s Florida Laboratory.  She holds B.S. degrees in Biology and Psychology and a M.S. degree from the University of Central Florida. She began her career in the marine mammal field volunteering for the cetacean stranding network while completing her Master’s thesis on dolphin interactions with the commercial blue crab fishery. She has studied the population biology, behavioral ecology and health of marine mammals for over 20 years and has published over two dozen scientific manuscripts. She is committed to mentoring future scientists and frequently oversees internships, undergraduate research projects and provides guidance to graduate students.  Her research is broadly focused on the conservation, health and ecology of local whale and dolphin populations.  She co-directs the marine mammal stranding program, is the lead investigator on Florida’s dolphin population ecology program, and directs our efforts to rescue and monitor entangled, out of habitat, or free-swimming dolphins in need of intervention.

Research Overview

Wendy co-directs the HSWRI Marine Mammal Research and Rescue Program in Florida which is on call 24/7 to respond to whale and dolphin stranding events across nearly 40% of Florida’s east coast.  Her research is focused on marine mammal health and ecology, behavioral ecology, reproductive biology, anthropogenic impacts and mitigation, and the population biology of Indian River Lagoon and Halifax River estuarine dolphins. She has spent thousands of hours researching local dolphin populations and has published dozens of papers on their biology, ecology and health. Research efforts include conducting the first comprehensive aerial and vessel based surveys to determine a population size for local dolphins. She has also employed extensive radio-telemetry tracking efforts for Indian River Lagoon dolphins and conducts post-release monitoring to evaluate the success of rescued/returned estuarine dolphins. She has a growing interest in the use of advancing technologies such as autonomous vehicles to further the assessment of marine mammal health.

Selected Publications

In Press. Mazzoil, M., Gibson, Q., Durden, W.D., Borkowski, R., Biedenbach, G., McKenna, Z., Gordon, N., Brightwell, K., Denny, M., Howells, E., Jakush, J., Moreland, L., Perna, A., and Caldwell, M. Spatiotemporal Movements of Common Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus truncatus) in Northeast Florida, U.S. Aquatic Mammals

 Hartel, E.F., Durden, W.N., and O’Corry-Crowe, G. 2020. Testing satellite telemetry within narrow ecosystems: Nocturnal movements and habitat use of bottlenose dolphins within a convoluted estuarine system. Animal Biotelemetry, 8 ,13 (2020).



Fire, SE, Browning JA, Durden WN, Stolen MK. 2020. Comparison of during-bloom and inter-bloom brevetoxin and saxitoxin concentrations in Indian River Lagoon bottlenose dolphins, 2002-2011. Aquatic Toxicology, 218: 105371. 


Durden, W.N., O’Corry-Crowe, G., Shippee, S., Jablonski, T., Rodgers, S. Mazzoil, M. Howells, E., Hartel, E., Potgieter, B., Londono, C., Moreland, L., Townsend, F., McCulloch, S. and Bossart, G. 2019. Small-scale movement patterns, activity budgets, and association patterns of radio-tagged Indian River Lagoon bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus).  Aquatic Mammals, 45(1): 66-87. doi: 10.1578/AM.45.1.2019.66






Rousselet, E. , M. Stolen, W.N. Durden, T. Mazza, N. Stacy, and D. Rotstein. 2018. Bilateral polycystic kidneys and focal renal cystadenoma in a pygmy sperm whale, Kogia breviceps. Journal of Wildlife Diseases. Doi: 10.7589/2018-01-019

Durden, W.N., E.D. Stolen, T. Jablonski, S. Puckett, and M.K. Stolen. 2017. Monitoring seasonal abundance of Indian River Lagoon bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) using aerial surveys. Aquatic Mammals, 43 (1): 90-112


Nekolny, S.R., M.D. Denny, G. Biedenbach, E.M. Howells, M. Mazzoil, W.N. Durden, L. Moreland, J.D. Lambert, and Q.A. Gibson. 2017. Effects of study area on home range estimates of common bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus.  Current Zoology zox049.


Wu, Q. , J. Conway, K. M. Phillips, M. Stolen, W. N. Durden, D. Fauquier, W. E. McFee, and L.Schwacke. 2016. Detection of Brucella spp. in Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) by a Real-Time PCR Using Blowhole Swabs. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, 120: 241–244, doi: 10.3354/dao03034

Fire S.E, L. Flewelling, M. Stolen, W. Noke Durden, M. de Wit, A. Spellman, Z. Wang. 2015. A brevetoxin-associated mass mortality event of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and Florida manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris) along the east coast of Florida. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 526:241-251.

Stolen M., J. St. Leger, W.N. Durden., T. Mazza, E. Nilson. 2013. Fatal Asphyxiation in Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) from the Indian River Lagoon. PLoS ONE 8(6): e66828. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0066828

Stolen, M.K., W.N. Durden, T. Mazza, N. Barros, J. St. Leger. 2013. Effects of recreational fishing gear on bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the Indian River Lagoon system, Florida. Marine Mammal Science 29: 356-364 2012

Durden, W.N., E.D. Stolen, and M.K. Stolen. 2011. Abundance, distribution and group composition of the Indian River Lagoon bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops truncatus, using an aerial survey. Aquatic Mammals, 32, 175-186.


Stavros, H. W. Stavros, M. Stolen, W. N. Durden, W. Mc Fee, G.D. Bossart, and P. A. Fair. 2011. Comparison and Correlation of Trace Elements in Tissues from Stranded and Free-ranging Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) from the US Southeastern Atlantic Coast. Chemosphere, 82, 1649-1661.


Durden, W.N., J. St. Leger, M. Stolen, T. Mazza, and C. Londono. 2009. Lacaziosis in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops  truncatus) in the Indian River Lagoon, Florida, USA. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 45: 849-856


Mendoza, L; A.F.F. Belone; R. Vilela; M. Rehtanz; G.D. Bossart; J.S. Reif; P.A. Fair, W.N. Durden;  J. St. Leger; L.R. Travassos; and P.S. Rosa. 2008. Use of Sera from Humans and Dolphins with Lacaziosis and Sera from Experimentally Infected Mice for Western Blot Analyses of Lacazia loboi Antigens. Clinical and Vaccine Immunology, 15: 164-167.


Durden, W.N., Stolen, M.K., Adams, D.H., and Stolen, E.D. Mercury and selenium concentrations in stranded bottlenose dolphin tissues form the Indian River Lagoon system, Florida. 2007. Bulletin of Marine Science, 81: 37-54.


Stolen, M.K., Durden, W.N., and Odell, D.K. 2006. Historical synthesis of bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) stranding data in the Indian River Lagoon system, Florida, from 1977-2005. Florida Scientist, 70: 45-54.


Durden, W.N. The harmful effects of inadvertently conditioning a wild bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) to interact with fishing vessels in the Indian River Lagoon, Florida, USA. 2005. Aquatic Mammals, 31(4): 413-419.


Noke, W. D. and D. K. Odell. Interactions between the Indian River Lagoon blue crab fishery and the bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops truncatus. 2002. Marine Mammal Science 18: 819-832.


Donate Now

Help Human And Marine Life Thrive Together