The Whale Heritage Sites Steering Committee manages the programme on behalf of the World Cetacean Alliance and consists of experts from both within and outside the organisation. The Steering Committee meets every 6 weeks to review initial applications, and members are also trained to conduct both remote and on-site audits at candidate sites. Final applications for Whale Heritage Sites are handled by the Independent Review Panel (IRP) which acts independently of both the Steering Committee and the World Cetacean Alliance and its partners. Current Steering Committee members include:
Malcolm Barradell is a founder member of the WCA and currently holds the position of Co-Chair of the Policy Advocacy and Campaigns Working Group, as well as sitting on the Whale Heritage Sites Steering Committee. Based in Pembrokeshire, Wales, he runs ‘Pembrokeshire Marine Environmental’, conducting environmental monitoring of marine mammals and consultancy on issues related to projects and interactions of boats with marine mammals in coastal waters. Recent contracts have included environmental monitoring in relation to a tidal energy project for Tidal Energy Ltd/Eco2 and consultancy in relation to marine protected areas for harbour porpoises in Wales for National Resources Wales. Malcolm has a BSc in Coastal Zone Management and I is an active member of the Pembrokeshire Marine Code group. Malcolm formerly worked as a wildlife guide running ‘In water encounters with dolphins’ tours in the Azores and Egypt. He travels extensively to destinations offering wildlife tours with cetaceans and has visited or organised tours to Iceland, Svalbard, Vancouver, Baja California, Egypt, The Canary Islands and The Azores.
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.
Helena Beard is a brand specialist with over 20 years’ experience of travel and tourism marketing. She is the founder and Managing Director of China Travel Outbound a sales and marketing agency which promotes global travel and tourism brands to the outbound Chinese traveller. During her career, Helena has worked both agency and client-side, as MD of Travel PR and Representation agency, KBC PR & Marketing, and in senior brand and communications roles at Virgin Holidays, First Choice and Eurostar.
Helena holds the Chartered Institute of Marketing Diploma and a Masters degree from Surrey University in Tourism Management. She is a part-time Marketing lecturer at the University of Brighton and writes hotel reviews and a regular blog for the travel trade website, Travelmole.
Graham Drucker currently works for the secretariat of the World Cetacean Alliance. His role is to focus on the Whale Heritage Sites programme with particular emphasis on fund raising for WHS projects, embedding WHS into the international community, and developing regional WHS activities. Graham is currently a member of the UK Man and Biosphere Programme of UNESCO.
As a conservationist and scientific researcher for over 30 years, Graham previously worked with the US National Wildlife Research Center on large carnivores and climate change, and with the International Union for Forest Research Organisations and their World Congress. Prior to that, he was based in Europe and instrumental in setting up the European Centre for Nature Conservation, as research partnership which focused on linking policy makers and academic research institutes and universities.
Luena Fernandes 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.
Scott Leonard grew up in Northern California. He lifeguarded for 21 years, gained swimming scholarships to several Universities and attended Humboldt State University as an oceanography major. In 1985 Scott immigrated to New Zealand in pursuit of a running career, eventually wearing the Athletics NZ Silver Fern while representing NZ internationally. Scott joined the Nantucket Marine Mammal Conservation Program as a volunteer in 1999. He has been Director since 2009. In collaboration with the University of Massachusetts Boston, Scott is currently establishing Marine Mammal Rescue Nantucket (MMRACK), a stranding team based on the island. He has now lived on Nantucket for 18 years… longer than he has lived anywhere else. “Anthropomorphism should be a Science.”
Jared Towers, 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.
Dylan Walker currently works as CEO for the secretariat of the World Cetacean Alliance, a partnership of over 70 non-profit organisations, whale and dolphin watching tour operators and individuals in 35 countries worldwide, which oversees the Whale Heritage Sites programme. As a scientist and conservationist, 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, the world’s largest celebration of whales and dolphins.