David Hocking

PhD Student, Palaeontology

David Hocking
David Hocking
Source: David Hocking

MV supervisor: Dr Erich Fitzgerald


David Hocking completed a BSc (Honours) with Monash University and Museum Victoria in 2011 in which he studied the evolution of filter feeding in marine mammals. In order to better understand how filter feeding evolved in the first baleen whales, David surveyed living ‘toothed filter feeders’, such as the leopard seal (Hydrurga leptonyx) to see how they capture and handle their food. This led to the publication of the first ever description of toothed-filter feeding by a leopard seal feeding on small prey underwater. This project has since expanded into David’s PhD, where he is studying foraging behaviour in captive and wild seals to learn more about how and why seals choose the prey they do.

Current Activities

David is currently a PhD student in the School of Biological Sciences at Monash University, where he is co-supervised by Alistair Evans. His project is exploring the diversity of feeding behaviours utilized by seals during wild foraging. Because of the difficulties involved in studying wild seals whilst hunting at sea, David is using a combination of wild and zoo based observations as well as skeletal specimens of seals in Museum Victoria’s collection to learn more about how these marine mammals find and process their food.


Hocking DP, Evans AR, Fitzgerald EMG. 2013. Leopard seals use suction and filter feeding when hunting small prey underwater. Polar Biology 36:211–222.