Leah Thorpe – Director of Communications and Education
Leah has been with Cetus since 2010. She worked as the Outreach Coordinator for the Straitwatch program in Victoria before stepping into a director role in February 2012. Before joining Cetus Leah was a biologist and marine educator for various organizations. She helped to repair and reconstruct a Blue Whale skeleton for The University of British Columbia’s Beaty Biodiversity Museum, worked as a marine mammal observer offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, conducted an assessment of cutthroat trout populations for the CRD and the Pacific Salmon Foundation and spent several seasons working as a naturalist on board whale watching vessels for Stubb’s Island out of Telegraph Cove B.C. Leah is also currently on the board of directors for the recently established Marine Education and Research Society (MERS). She holds an undergraduate degree in biology and geography from The University of Victoria and a Master’s degree in Environmental Education and Communications from Royal Roads University.
Megan Baker – Program Director
Megan joined Cetus as a vessel driver for our Straitwatch North program out of Alert Bay and is now the Program Director. Megan grew up in New Zealand, boating and kayaking on the Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea. After a short stint in human resources, she has made marine conservation her career, previously working for the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society – BC Chapter on campaigns to create marine protected areas on the BC coast and as a kayak guide and instructor. Megan holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Auckland, a Diploma in Human Resource Management and an Adventure Tourism Diploma from the Canadian Tourism College in Vancouver, B.C.
Marie Fournier – Robson Bight Marine Warden Coordinator
Marie has been with Cetus Society and the Robson Bight Warden Program for more than five years. She was born and raised in Vancouver B.C. and completed her bachelor’s degree in biology at The University of Victoria with a focus on the marine environment. Marie has many years of experience working with cetaceans in a variety of projects around the world. She started her career as a marine mammal trainer at The Vancouver Aquarium, worked as a dolphin research assistant in Kaikoura, NZ, and Western Australia and was a naturalist/zodiac driver with GAP adventures in Scotland, Norway and the Arctic. Marie also acted as a marine mammal observer on surveys along the BC coast with Raincoast Conservation Foundation. Over the past three winters Marie has spent her time caretaking Orcalab, which is a land based research station that monitors cetaceans both acoustically and visually.
Erica Forssman – Robson Bight Marine Warden
Erica is from Vancouver and grew up kayaking, sailing, and spotting whales all over the west coast. She holds a degree from UBC’s Fine Arts program and recently graduated from BCIT with a Diploma in Renewable Resources (specializing in Fish, Wildlife, and Recreation). Erica spent two summer seasons working as an interpreter at the Johnstone Strait Whale Interpretive Centre in Telegraph Cove and volunteered with the Cetus Society and the Robson Bight Warden Program in 2010. She has also spent two seasons volunteering with the Salmon Coast Field Station in the Broughton Archipelago on salmon health assessments and sea lice inventories. She is passionate about the positive impacts of education and outreach for marine stewardship and conservation.
Ernest Alfred – Cultural Interpreter (Robson Bight)
K’wak’waba’las, Ernest Alfred is from the ‘Namgis First Nation with roots from the ‘Ma’malilikala and Lawit’sis First Nations. Ernest grew up in Alert Bay and was exposed to the rich Kwakwa’wakw culture, language and history from an early age. Ernest has worked as the Cultural teacher at Alert Bay Elementary School for the past 7 years and feels passionate about teaching the next generation. Having great knowledge about First Nation culture has provided Ernest with an opportunity to travel extensively. Ernest joined Cetus in the 2011 as the Cultural interpreter and provides visitors to Eagle Eye with a unique First Nations perspective.
Board of Directors
Jake graduated with a B.Sc. in Biology from Vancouver Island University, where he specialized in ecology and environmental chemistry. Since then, he has worked as an aquatic technician at the Pacific Biological Station and a research assistant at the Applied Environmental Research Laboratories. He spent three summers working for Cetus Research & Conservation Society as a warden at Robson Bight Ecological Reserve and a marine educator with Straitwatch North. He is currently the Local Marine Planner for the Living Ocean Society in Sointula, working on marine conservation issues in the Northern Vancouver Island area.
Todd is a Wildlife Biologist with a Master’s Degree in Animal Behaviour and Bioacoustics. His published research showed that hummingbirds use their wing sounds as a form of non-vocal communication. For the past 9 years Todd has been the taxonomic bird expert for the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring program. Though new to the west coast, Todd is keen to jump in to the marine environment. As a new Board member, he strives to mix his science background with his business and writing skills to assist the Cetus crew in being as successful as possible in reaching their research and educational targets.
Scott worked with Straitwatch, based in Johnstone Strait, for the first 5 years of the program and subsequently joined as a Director on the board. Concurrently, and afterward, she coordinated graduate and post-graduate field research on wild juvenile salmon and the sea lice parasite in the Broughton Archipelago. From 2006 to 2011 she coordinated the Salmon Coast Field Station and associated research out of Echo Bay. She has been involved with conservation efforts in the Broughton with her local salmon enhancement society. She is currently serving her 5th year as a Director with Cetus’s Board and is now working and living in the Broughton Archipelago.
Sarah is a finance manager, directing and overseeing the daily operations of finance and accounting for Dobin in Chicago. She works frequently with project managers and practice area leaders to improve the firm’s efficiency and internal processes. She served for many years on the management team of VIA International, a market strategies firm, where she managed all aspects of global operations, building and maintaining the international finance systems of this successful company. She holds a BS degree in marketing and accounting from Arizona State University. Sarah has volunteered with Cetus every summer for the last 8 years, and has been acting treasurer for 4 years. Sarah also serves on the board of the Chicago Lost and Found – a non-profit that works with schools and the community to transform recycled goods into art that is then sold and the profits go back to the project. And she is also a Wish Granter for the Make a Wish Foundation.
Pierre IachettiPierre joins the Cetus board bringing with him more than 12 years’ experience working in conservation, land use and marine planning, climate change research and managing numerous trans-boundary, multi-disciplinary projects. Pierre’s work has taken him across Canada, the Pacific Northwest and internationally. Pierre has a Masters of Science degree in environment and management and a background in geography, ecological restoration and project management. Previously, he held fellowships at the Sustainable Development Research Institute at the University of BC and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature where he continues to serve on the World Commission on Protected Areas and Commission on Ecosystem Management. He has led or co-authored numerous reports on conservation, land use and marine planning, decision-support tools and climate change. Pierre is a Professional Agrologist (PAg) with the BC Institute of Agrologists and Registered Professional Planner (RPP) with the Planning Institute of BC and Canadian Institute of Planners (MCIP).
Nic Dedeluk (B.Sc.) is one of the founders of Cetus and worked as the General Manager for Cetus for 7 years. She is a marine biologist and has been working on marine mammal outreach and education programs since September 2000 with the establishment and coordination of both the B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network at the Vancouver Aquarium and the Straitwatch Programs. In addition to her work with Straitwatch, she has taught a marine mammal course for naturalists in Victoria and run courses on marine mammal identification and natural history for staff at the Department of National Defense. Currently Nic works as a researcher for the Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and is serving her 6th year as the Chair for Cetus’s board.
Mercedes Reyes Zamudio
Mercedes is a marine biologist with Masters in Marine Mammal Science, who volunteered with Cetus Society in 2011 and briefly worked as a Driver for Cetus is 2012 before joining the board. Mercedes is from the Canary Islands, Spain, where she was fully involved in the monitoring of whale watching activities for over five years. She was one of the founders and director of a non-profit society with similar objectives and actions to Cetus Society. She also worked for the Spanish government carrying out a whale watching monitoring and management program. After that she worked for a cetacean research society, where she studied anthropogenic impacts on cetacean populations.
Wendy Szaniszlo is a marine mammal biologist who started her career volunteering for marine mammal projects in 1995. She went on to study grey whale foraging ecology before embarking on graduate work studying sea lions in Barkley Sound. Wendy has over 10 years of experience conducting research and monitoring of marine mammal species-at-risk in collaboration with other government agencies, universities and research groups. Her work focuses on seasonal abundance and distribution of sea lions, and the abundance and movements of summer grey whale feeding aggregations in Barkley Sound. Her most recent work included assessing levels of sea lion entanglement in marine debris and fishing gear. Wendy has worked with Parks Canada for over 14 years in various capacities, most recently on the Visitor Services Team in the Broken Group Islands, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. She has also been a whale watch guide in Barkley and Clayoquot Sounds for seven years. Wendy’s passion is the protection of marine mammals and their habitat.