Michael Fishbach, Co-Founder/Executive Director
For the past 23 years Michael has been actively involved in field research and conservation work on Blue and other Great Whales. He is about to spend his 20th season of fieldwork on the large whales of the Sea of Cortez this winter. Michael’s passion is connecting the scientific and conservation communities and forging actions that minimize human impacts which are detrimental to the world’s Great Whales. His efforts for the GWC revolve around live educational presentations, bringing issues like the “Whale Pump” and Ship Strikes into the public domain, funding, and helping the public to gain more awareness of Great Whales and their current plight. Michael regularly attends the GWC’s MZ Blue – Whale inflations, attends conferences, speaks with the media and friends of GWC. Michael was formerly one of the top 50 tennis players in the world and spent 10 years competing on the Men’s Professional ATP Tennis Tour, all over the world.ivity.
Heather Watrous, Education Director
Heather Watrous has been teaching about and sharing the wonders of the natural world to children and adults her entire life. Her enthusiasm for learning about the intricate web of earth’s ecosystems, both on the macrocosmic, and microscopic levels, is something she cannot keep to herself. She has led small groups, both private and public, and all-school workshops on marine ecosystems, the carbon cycle, cetaceans, often times using dynamic games and role playing as tools for integration. She has been host of citizen science vacations at the annual Blue whale field station in Baja California Sur with Michael Fishbach for 23 years. She creates children’s camps on sensory awareness, art, theatre, and nature. Her other interests include organic gardening, dance, classic literature, art, yoga, healthful cooking, and writing.
Delphi Watrous-Waters, Social Media Director
Delphi runs all social media for GWC, promoting greater engagement from GWC supporters, by providing images, videos and other digital content to help people learn about the importance of our mission. She curates behind-the-scenes footage of our trips to publicly accessible visual platforms and assists in presentations that showcase world-class videos and photographs of the whales in their habitats. Delphi also assists with field research and accompanies field research teams to document our work.
Ashanka Kananda, Communications Director
Ms. Kananda brings a background in television and film, sales and radio advertising in her role as Director of Communications. She has a passion for the environment and works with GWC to connect our mission and message to a broader audience. She is an exceptional event planner for program speakers and fundraisers. She has traveled to Baja, Mexico to participate in Blue Whale photo identification on the Sea of Cortez with the GWC for over 15 years.
Henk Korevar, Advocacy Director, GWC The Netherlands
Lenard Milich, Scientific Advisor
Lenard Milich studied under the world-renowned cetacean researcher, Dr. Ken Norris, at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His first direct exposure to the great whales was when he participated in the dissection of an adult female blue whale, washed up just north of that city. He became a team member on Project Circe in California, a scientific experiment to encourage captive bottlenose dolphins to have control of their environment. While he transitioned to earning a Bachelor’s in Meteorology, a Masters in Forestry & Environmental Studies, and a Doctorate in Arid Lands Resource Sciences, he never lost his interest in cetaceans. After a career in food security and household livelihoods with the United Nations, he is particularly concerned about the declining health of the world’s oceans and the impact of this on poor families dependent on marine product
A research biologist and co-founder of Cascadia Research, a nonprofit organization formed in 1979 and based in Olympia, Washington, is an advisor to the GWC. He periodically serves as Adjunct Faculty at Evergreen State College, where he teaches a course on marine mammals. Calambokidis’s primary interests are the biology of marine mammals and the impacts of humans. As a Senior Research Biologist at Cascadia Research he has served as Project Director for over 100 projects. He has authored two books on marine mammals (one on blue whales and a guide to marine mammals) as well as more than 150 publications in scientific journals and technical reports. Calambokidis has conducted studies on a variety of marine mammals in the North Pacific from Central America to Alaska. His work has been covered by the Discovery Channel and was featured in a National Geographic TV special and magazine article released in March 2009.
Richard Zack Klyver
Zack Klyver is a Maine based marine scientist, naturalist and conservationist. Zack was born in Niarobi, Kenya in 1968 and grew up in Eastport, Maine – the eastern most city in the United States. He is a graduate of College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine with a B.A. in Human Ecology.In college he started working with the whale research group Allied Whale and since has guided whale and seabird watching tours on the Gulf of Maine for 30 seasons. During his tenure working in Maine and for Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company he has led over 3,000 trips with 600,000 people. During ten winter seasons he worked as an endangered right whale and sea turtle observer on dredging ships and planes off the southeast seaboard between North Carolina and Florida.In the winters of 2010 and 2011 he helped coordinate Right Whale surveys with the New England Aquarium in the Gulf of Maine. Zack has worked as a marine mammal lecturer in Antarctica, as a marine mammal observer in Arctic above Alaska, and for the conservation organization the Ocean Conservancy in Washington DC. Zack brings vast expertise in whale watching having been on whale watching tours in Hawaii, British Columbia, Washington, California, Baja; Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, and throughout the Caribbean. In 2011, he founded the company FLUKES: International Whale Tours that specializes in taking guests on extended marine mammal tours around the world.Since 2003, he has represented the whale watching and ecotourism industry as a member of CHOIR (Coaltion for Atlantic Herring’s Orderly, Informed and Long-term Responsible Management) advocating for the importance of Atlantic Herring and Menhaden in the marine ecosystem as forage. In 2015, he became a member of the New England Fisheries Management Council’s fifteen member stakeholder Advisory Panel to the Atlantic Herring Committee.
Ralph Chami – Economic Advisor
Ralph Chami joins the Advisory Board of the Great Whale Conservancy to bring his expertise on macro-financial theory to the arena of valuing natural ecosystems in this time of climate breakdown. He has collaborated with GWC to produce a pioneering framework for valuing whales as an international public good, and continues to provide advice to the GWC and its partners to raise awareness to preserve and protect the Great Whales as a vital species in restoring a healthy ocean and planet.
Ralph Chami is an Assistant Director at the IMF in the Institute for Capacity Development (ICD) where he leads the development and delivery of training to officials in member countries, as well as courses designed for IMF economists as they matriculate through their career. He has spent his career serving as the mission chief in many fragile states in the Middle East and Africa including Libya, Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen and Egypt; developing and delivering training to build capacity within and outside the IMF; and doing cutting edge research in areas such as inclusive growth, remittances and fragile states – all topics focused on how to better the plight of people in fragile and low income countries.
But his deep desire early in life was to become an oceanographer. This was a very distant dream to a boy growing up in Lebanon during the civil war. Somehow life has come full circle and now Ralph’s passion and dream is to save whales, knowing their vital and integral place in the ecosystems of the ocean and to the very health of the planet. He has developed a framework – described in an article in Finance and Development – that quantifies the economic value of whales, with an emphasis on the role of whales in the carbon cycle and carbon sequestration, as well as tourism and sustainable fisheries, and how to bring that framework to the public policy space.