PRACTICE PAGE: the team
Protecting whales can never be achieved through solo efforts alone. It requires a team with diverse background and skills, united by a shared passion for marine conservation. The Whale Wise team has experience in whale research, conservation action, public engagement and media. Together, we are committed to supporting ocean harmony.
We are also fortunate to work with several institutions, who together provide us with the resources and expertise needed to realise our goals. Read about our partners here.
After graduating with a degree in Natural Science (University of Cambridge, UK), Tom has spent the last two years working for various marine research and conservation groups, with a focus on whales. As part of this, he spent a summer working for the University of Iceland in Húsavík, contributing to photo-identification and behavioural research. During this time, he formed the idea of promoting a more sustainable whale watching industry in Iceland and beyond. This idea has now transformed into Whale Wise, with the broader aim of reducing human disturbance to whales. Whale Wise will form part of Tom’s PhD with the University of Edinburgh.
Alyssa grew up in California, spending much of her childhood at the beach and on the ocean. Inspired by her family, she knew from a very young age that she wanted to devote her life to whales and the ocean. Alyssa obtained her BS in Marine Environmental Science from Western Washington University, in the hope of better comprehending the issues that are affecting marine wildlife. She then spent four years as a research assistant (2016 and 2017 as head research assistant) for Cook Islands Whale Research based in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, primarily studying humpback whales. In 2018 Alyssa began working with Whale Wise, with the aim of minimising human disturbance to marine life.
Abigail is from New Zealand and has always felt a draw to the ocean. Growing up in a family that spent summers fishing and diving, meant that she encountered cetaceans from a young age, and has always scanned the horizon for them ever since. While studying a BAppSc. in Biodiversity Management (Unitec, Auckland), she spent a season in 2016 in the Cook Islands working along side Alyssa as a research assistant for Cook Islands Whale Research. This was when she learned to fly a drone, and capture humpbacks from an angle that offers many new research opportunities. Currently she works as a Biosecurity Officer in New Zealand.
Flo graduated from McGill University (Montreal, Canada) with a Bachelors in Biology, with a concentration in marine biology and a minor in natural history. A class on marine mammals in the Bay of Fundy made her the whale enthusiast she is today. She is currently completing a Masters degree in Marine Systems and Policies at the University of Edinburgh. This has led to her dissertation project focusing on using aerial imaging to study humpback and blue whale body conditions. She hopes to go on to a career in whale conservation in eastern Canada. Her favorite whales are humpbacks and right whales because they are krilling it!
After graduating from high school, Amelie travelled to various countries for three years, gaining an understanding of the world’s beauty, problems and associated solutions little by little. She has learnt from and contributed to different marine research groups along this journey. While working for two seasons with Cook Islands Whale Research, she realised the importance of whale conservation. Getting to know Tom and Alyssa during this project therefore led to collaboration in Iceland with Whale Wise, now and in the future. Amelie is now studying marine biology in Kiel University, Germany, developing theoretical background knowledge to be able to support ocean conservation in a professional way.
Beverly is a final year Ecological and Environmental Sciences undergraduate at the University of Edinburgh, and is interested in the use of technology such as unoccupied aerial vehicles in conservation, environmental and ecological sciences. She has dabbled in marine conservation back home in Singapore: from work with Conservation International’s manta tracking program, to research on scleractinian corals, to volunteering with intertidal and seagrass monitoring groups. Combined with her love for the ocean, conservation, the outdoors and the environment, Whale Wise is an exciting next step for her. Her favourite animals are whale sharks (close enough!), and her favourite whales are narwhals – none of which she’ll see in Iceland, but she’s only ever seen one whale in her life, really far in the distance, so she’s extremely excited to embark on this upcoming journey with Whale Wise, and fall in love with these magnificent creatures of the sea.
University outreach officer
A recent ecology graduate from the University of Edinburgh, Gabi’s passion is a combination of the natural world and sharing its beauty with others. As such, he is a self-trained amateur film-maker, with the aim of engaging the public with a range of environmental wonders and issues. Gabi joined us in 2019 and has helped with both our engagement efforts and our field research.