PRACTICE PAGE: the team

Whale Wise is dedicated to evidence-based marine conservation. We study the impact of human activity on whale and dolphin populations, and engage the public with our work through media and local events.
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. Whale Wise consists of: a core team of volunteers, who run the charity on a day-to-day basis; visiting students, who run and contribute to specific projects; and numerous other contributors, who have volunteered their time, knowledge and resources to our work. All of these people have made our work possible. Being a charity, we also have a board of trustees to ensure that we meet our charitable aims and function in a sustainable and fair way – check them out here! Together we have experience in whale research, conservation action, public engagement and media.
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.
Core team
Tom Grove (co-founder)
research
Tom
(co-founder)
Alyssa Stoller (co-founder)
research, outreach
Alyssa
(co-founder)
Amelie Laute
research
Amelie
Flordespina Dodds
research
Flo
Synnøve Røsand
research
Synnøve
Rosemary Connelli
media
Rosemary
Jessica Ward
research
Jessica
Petr Slavík
research
Petr
Abigail Robinson
research, outreach
Abigail
Students
Sarah Kane
Master’s
Sarah
Master’s
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Tom Grove (co-founder)
research
PhD student, University of Edinburgh
Interests: behavioural ecology, human-whale interactions, citizen science, public speaking and events
After graduating with a degree in Natural Science (University of Cambridge, UK), Tom has spent the last three years working for various whale research and conservation groups. As part of this, he interned for the University of Iceland in Húsavík, contributing to photo-ID 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 transformed into Whale Wise, with the broader aim of reducing human disturbance to whales. Our behavioural, blow sampling and body condition research will form part of Tom’s PhD with the University of Edinburgh.
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Alyssa Stoller (co-founder)
research, outreach
marine naturalist
Interests: film and education, citizen science, science-policy integration, whale migratory patterns and habitats
Alyssa grew up in California, and developed a love for whales and the ocean at a young age. To pursue this passion, Alyssa obtained a BS in Marine Environmental Science from Western Washington University and MSc in Marine Systems and Policies from the University of Edinburgh. Alyssa started working in the whale research field in 2014, and Iceland specifically in 2018, where she helped to create Whale Wise. Currently, Alyssa leads the citizen science project and production of video content for Whale Wise.
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Amelie Laute
research
undergraduate student, University of Kiel
Interests: bioacoustics, impacts of anthropogenic noise, global ocean processes, science communication
Amelie is currently graduating with a BSc. in biology in Germany. Soon she will be studying the master of biological oceanography in Kiel. During three years of travelling before uni she learnt from and contributed to different research groups, following her passion for marine science. Working in whale research along the way she met Tom, Alyssa and Abigail and since then she’s a part of the team in Iceland. Amelie runs our acoustic research, understanding the underwater soundscape of North Iceland. As part of her current undergraduate dissertation, she is studying the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on the acoustic habitat of the humpbacks in Skjálfandi Bay.
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Flordespina Dodds
research
whale biologist
Interests: behavioural ecology, human-whale interactions, citizen science, public speaking and events
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. Starting with her master’s dissertation in 2019 (Marine Systems and Policy, University of Edinburgh), Flo runs our body condition research. Flo’s dream is a career in whale conservation in eastern Canada. Her favorite whales are humpbacks and right whales because they are krilling it!
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Synnøve Røsand
research
science teacher, Norway
Interests: ecology, ethology, photography, anything whale-related
After watching a documentary about orcas at the age of six, Synnøve decided she was going to become a biologist. She graduated from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (Ås, Norway) with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology, and later with a master’s degree in Ecology. After graduating, she completed the Post Graduate Certificate in Education and went on to teach natural sciences for four years before interning with the University of Iceland in Húsavik. It was here that Synnøve met the Whale Wise team! Synnøve contributes to our fieldwork and photo-identification matches.
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Rosemary Connelli
outreach
graphic designer, Connelli Designs
Interests: visual communication, conservation, film and education
Growing up on an island and practising art, Rosemary decided to combine her two passions into one: using visual communication as a storytelling tool for marine conservation. She graduated from Green Mountain College with a BFA degree concentrating in whale conservation in 2018, and continues to use her degree in designing infographics and educational materials for the awareness of cetacean conservation. She has collaborated with The Nature Conservancy, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, New Bedford Whaling Museum, The Húsavík Whale Museum, and various other environmental-based organizations. She was introduced to the Whale Wise team in summer 2019, where she was interning with the University of Iceland in Húsavík, contributing to photo-identification and behavioural research in humpback whales. She currently works as a reporter and operates her own graphic design business in Block Island.
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Jessica Ward
research
undergraduate, University of Edinburgh
Interests: conservation, public engagement, whale biology
Jess is currently completing her final year as a Zoology undergraduate at the University of Edinburgh. In her third year, she studied in Santa Barbara and fell in love with living by the ocean and taking marine-focused and conservation classes. She has always felt a calling towards protecting the planet and she strives for a world that allows non-human animals and humans to thrive together. She met the Whale Wise team on a university webinar this year and instantly was inspired by their work, passion and connectivity as a team! She created a short video for Whale Wise: a poem narrated by the women in the team exploring the importance of female whales! This summer of 2021 will be her first field season. After university, Jess plans to become more involved with the team and follow her passion of achieving better animal rights globally. Jess also loves humpbacks, musicals and running!
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Petr Slavík
research
master’s student, University of St Andrews
Interests: ecology, conservation, biological oceanography, film and photography
Despite growing up in the landlocked Czech Republic, Petr developed a passion for ocean science and marine fauna as a kid watching J. Cousteau’s docs and reading books about the marine environment. To carry on with this passion, Petr obtained a BSc in Zoology from the University of Aberdeen and is currently completing MSc in Marine Mammal Science at the University of St Andrews. Petr has participated in internships involving research on, for example, Scottish bottlenose dolphins and pinnipeds, seabirds, as well as cetaceans of the Pacific Northwest. For the past year, Petr has been helping with planning the Arctic Sense expedition, in particular the use of a towed hydrophone array and PAMGuard software for real-time cetacean detection.
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Abigail Robinson
research, outreach
biosecurity officer
Interests: blow sampling, videography, behavioural ecology
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 field seasons in 2014-16 working 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. Abigail is our drone pilot, taking Whale Wise to the skies to collect blow samples and aerial images. Currently she works as a Biosecurity Officer in New Zealand.
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Sarah Kane
Research
Master’s student, University of Edinburgh
Interests: acoustic monitoring, behavioural ecology, conservation, public engagement, citizen science
Sarah graduated with a BSc in Biology from Queen Mary University of London and is currently studying MSc Marine Systems and Policies at the University of Edinburgh. For her master’s dissertation she will be working in partnership with Whale Wise to study the potential of HydroMoths deployed on static fishing gear to monitor cetaceans. Sarah has contributed to marine mammal research in the North Sea and is a volunteer marine mammal medic.
Previous team members
In addition to the current team, we are forever grateful to those who have previously volunteered for Whale Wise.
Benjamin Hildebrand (2019-2020): fieldwork and equipment construction
Gabriele Negro (2019-2020): filming, outreach events
Beverly Tan (2019): fieldwork, data processing
Other contributors
As well as long-term volunteers, people have generously contributed to our work in many other ways. These include short-term volunteers, locals who have guided us towards whale hotspots and friends who have stored our blow samples. We wouldn’t be able to do it without you!
Judith Scott: local whale knowledge, storing blow samples, general research advice