Natalie Barefoot is the Executive Director of Cet Law, Inc., a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to furthering the conservation and welfare of cetaceans and their ocean and freshwater habitats by translating sound science and best practices into practical legal and policy solutions. Prior to Cet Law, Natalie worked with the United Nations Environment Protection in Geneva, Switzerland as a Programme Officer
specializing in general legal and environmental law issues. Before joining UNEP, Natalie was an attorney with Hogan Lovells, LLP in their Miami office, focusing her law practice on environmental litigation in U.S. state, federal, and appellate courts. Natalie also worked in international development as a financial specialist and grants manager with Pact, Inc., based in DC and then Harare, Zimbabwe implementing USAID funded projects. Natalie lives in the Florida Keys and is a PADI dive master, an AIDA2 Freediver, a witty conversationalist and a lover of everything animal and ocean.
Sophie Bachet Granados
Sophie is the International Director of the worldwide renowned Blue Flag eco-label (blueflag.global), run by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE). Her six-year experience at this position and her ten-year experience in the Foundation for Environmental Education both enable her to lead the programme towards excellency of environmental coastal management, in close relationship with the FEE members worldwide. The new development of Blue Flag award towards sustainable boating tourism operators in 2016 is one of the new challenges which she is excited to grow within the network of 50 countries working on the Blue Flag programme. She hopes many sustainable boating tourism operators will join the already existing network of more than 4,000 Blue Flag awarded sites in the world, in order to improve safety, education, environmental management and responsible tourism for those types of activities, including whale watching.
Sophie has studied Environmental Sciences, with a major in environmental systems analysis, and obtained her Master of Sciences in Wageningen University, The Netherlands. She also holds an Engineer diploma in Agronomical sciences, from LaSalle engineer school, France, and a Technical Degree in Microbiology and Laboratory Techniques from Toulouse University, France. One of Sophie’s joys is to dive and reconnect with the marine world whenever she has the opportunity to do so.
Luena is a zoologist working for the Brazilian Humpback Whale Institute, an NGO based in Bahia State which has been working since 1988 for the research and conservation of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), other cetaceans and marine ecosystems. The Institute aims to improve the livelihoods of coastal communities, generating alternatives for jobs and income and minimizing conflicts with human activities (e.g. artisanal fisheries, shipping and the oil industry), and to strengthen public policy for marine conservation. Currently with two offices, in Praia do Forte and Caravelas, the Institute works in partnership with institutions both nationally and internationally, including the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment, universities and other civil society organizations in Latin America and beyond. Luena’s work over the past 10 years has focused on the sustainable management of whale watching tourism, developing education, research and capacity building in partnership with local whalewatching operators and communities along the coast of Bahia.
Roy Mulder, a self-proclaimed fish sympathizer uses strong visual imagery of the ocean combined with active involvement in marine conservation to create the change that needs to happen. Learning scuba diving through the Canadian Armed Forces 37 years ago set him on his current path to devote his life to the creation of marine conservation areas in Canada. He is a strong believer in community and has been active in numerous organizations and programming.
As Vice-President to the Underwater Council of British Columbia he cut his teeth on the complexities of ministerial policy and dealing with the political system. Advocating on behalf of the UCBC he worked towards creating marine sanctuaries for the Mooring Buoy Program that he helped to found. All the areas identified went on to become part of the Rockfish Conservation Areas in Canada as a result of this work. In the process an illegal wolf-eel fishery was discovered and halted. Having logged thousands of dives over decades has strongly affected Roy’s feelings about the ocean. He is keenly aware of the degradation of fish stocks from a point of view that scuba divers truly understand. As a member of the Reef Environmental Education Foundation, he learned fish identification and counting procedure. As a coordinator of numerous PADI Project Aware underwater beach clean-ups he developed a template for a safer underwater clean-up. Having seen thousands of kilos of garbage come up from the bottom of the ocean and lakes have strongly affected Roy. During this time he was invited to be on the Canadian Marine Environment Protection board that he currently sits on as Executive Director. The CMEPS board focuses on marine issues in Canada.
To Be Confirmed
Alex is a cetacean rescue technician, research assistant and wildlife tour guide based in Spain. Due to his heavy involvement in cetacean and sea turtle rescue, he also remains a student of biology at the University of Granada. He has been keen on whales and dolphins since a very young age, and in 2012 he decided to travel to South Africa to get some first hand experience in cetacean observation and research. He was trained as a marine guide at Ocean Blue Adventures in Plettenberg Bay, and he visits South Africa at least once a year due to a grassroots project (which he founded) for a local township school. This project raises funds and provides education for approximately 90 Xhosa children in the township of Qolweni.
On his return to Spain in 2012 he became part of a marine wildlife stranding network which gained some international recognition for its 6-month attempted rehabilitation of a wild juvenile striped dolphin called Marcos. Alexander played an active part in this project, both in the water working on rehabilitating the dolphin and in fundraising for necessary materials and veterinary needs. Following this dolphin’s death, Alexander became a member of the stranding technical team and attended many stranded animals of different species. During his time with this network he also attended many meetings and events around Europe, as well as helped in different cetacean related issues, such as welfare campaigns for dolphins in EU zoos and aquariums. Alexander was also a founding individual Partner of the World Cetacean Alliance.
Jared, from Alert Bay, Canada has been involved in the whale watching industry in British Columbia since 1986. He is the co-founder and administrator of the North Island Marine Mammal Stewardship Association but also works as a cetacean research technician in the eastern North Pacific for Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Marine Education and Research Society and in the South Atlantic (Antarctic region) for the government of South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands. In both hemispheres his research mainly focuses on the conservation and ecology of killer whale populations but also includes various studies on the abundance, movements, and behaviours of other large cetacean species such as blue, fin, humpback, grey, minke, and sperm whale. Jared typically spends over 100 days a year at sea conducting conservation-based field research.
Daniel began working for the Born Free Foundation in 2000 and, having led Born Free’s core Programme, Zoo Check, for many years, now is responsible for developing and managing the charity’s agenda in raising international standards in animal protection in Europe and in a global context, through compassionate tourism. Daniel is a Chartered Environmental Biologist with a background in field conservation, and experience investigating illegal wildlife trade at the Wildlife Protection Society of India. At the Born Free Foundation, Daniel has initiated and led on a number of ground-breaking initiatives, including: the formation of the NGO coalitions, ENDCAP and the Dolphinaria-Free Europe to focus efforts on improving the welfare of wild animals in captivity in Europe; the extensive review on zoo regulation and compliance across the European Union, the EU Zoo Inquiry; the authorship of ABTA’s Global Welfare Guidance for Animals in Tourism, now adopted by tour operators across Europe; and various initiatives at the European Parliament to improve animal welfare and combat wildlife trafficking. Daniel is Born Free Foundation’s representative in European lobby, he is the Coordinator of ENDCAP, the Policy Officer for the Dolphinaria-Free Europe coalition and a member of the Global Council of the World Cetacean Alliance.
Dr Ingrid N. Visser
To Be Confirmed
Born in New Zealand, Dr Visser remains the only researcher specializing in orca in New Zealand waters as founder of the Orca Research Trust. Her research officially began in 1992 when she embarked on her life-long dream to study the orca. Since then she has worked with orca not only around New Zealand, but also in the waters of Antarctica, Argentina and Papua New Guinea.
Whilst travelling aboard eco-tourism ships or on private expeditions, she has also contributed to orca research projects in the Kamchatka region of Russia; Washington, Alaska and British Colombia off North America as well as Iceland (where she worked with the team releasing “Keiko” the star of the Free Willy movies). Her work has appeared in various magazines and on numerous documentaries made for TV. She has written two children’s books as well as an autobiography “Swimming with Orca” which was a finalist in the 2005 NZ Montana Book Awards. Since the tragic death of the trainer at SeaWorld in Florida, Ingrid has been actively speaking out for orca held in captivity. She is a co-founder of the Free Morgan Foundation, working to raise awareness of her plight as she is used commercially at the entertainment theme park Loro Parque, in Spain.
Dylan Walker currently works as CEO for the secretariat of the World Cetacean Alliance (WCA), a partnership of over 70 non-profit organisations, whale and dolphin watching tour operators and individuals in 35 countries working collaboratively to protect cetaceans. Overarching the WCA’s programmes is its Whale Heritage Sites initiative, which accredits outstanding locations where cetaceans are embraced through the cultural, economic, social, and political lives of associated communities, and where people and cetaceans coexist in an authentic and respectful way.
As a scientist, conservationist, and former whale watch operator, Dylan has worked with the whale watching industry across Europe, Latin America and North America for 20 years, and has written several books on cetaceans. He is also co-founder of WhaleFest, one of the world’s largest celebrations of whales and dolphins and campaigning platform for ocean conservation issues.