Harvey Cairns BSc.

University of Plymouth


My research focuses on atoll hydrodynamics, taking a numerical modelling approach to understanding the physical oceanographic processes which influence phenomena such as feeding aggregations.

Currently, I am researching Hanifaru Bay, and the wider Baa Atoll in the Maldives, the site of the largest known aggregation of reef manta (Mobula alfredi) in the world. Using numerical modelling, I aim to identify the specific climate and oceanographic processes which drive these aggregations.  

Part of a wider modelling project covering varying scales, with collaborators at Stanford University and University of Cape Town, we aim to provide numerical models at varying resolutions with an aim of better describing oceanographic processes within the Indian Ocean. 

My previous research, undertaken during my ResM, was on the oceanographic and climate drivers responsible for controlling the spatial and temporal distribution of enhanced productivity. Using a combination of in-situ and remotely sensed data, I assessed the contributions of different nutrient sources and corresponding productivity at varying temporal scales. 

Physical oceanography is the cornerstone of marine conservation efforts, it explains the mechanisms controlling movements of marine life from phytoplankton to megafauna. A sound understanding of theses mechanisms is vital to informing effective conservation management.

Harvey Cairns


2022 Present
PhD Student, University of Plymouth
2021 2022
ResM Marine Sciences, University of Plymouth, Thesis titled ‘Nutrient Input in the Chagos Archipelago – Controlling Mechanisms of Chlorophyll-a Distribution’
2018 2021
BSc Ocean Science and Marine Conservation, University of Plymouth

My Project

  • Species Distribution and Ecology
    Multi-Scale Oceanographic Numerical Modelling in Support of Regional Marine Science