Our Team

Dr. Lance Barrett-Lennard

Director, Marine Mammal Research Program

Lance has been director of the Marine Mammal Research Program since 2001. During his graduate studies at the University of British Columbia he used DNA analysis to study mating systems and population subdivision in killer whales. He has spent 28 field seasons studying marine mammal behaviour, ecology, social structure and health, with particular focus on killer whales. His current research uses drone-based aerial photogrammetry to study relationships between prey abundance and the body condition and health of NE Pacific killer whales. In addition to research, he serves on various advisory committees and expert panels concerned with the conservation of marine mammals and their habitats.

Caitlin Birdsall

Coordinator, North Coast Cetacean Research Initiative

Caitlin has been with the Marine Mammal Research team since 2008. She is based in Prince Rupert, where she manages the North Coast Cetacean Research Initiative and conducts research on humpback whales and harbor porpoises. She holds a BSc in Wildlife Biology from the University of Northern British Columbia. Before joining the Marine Mammal Research team, Caitlin worked as a field assistant, naturalist and educator in Australia and throughout British Columbia.

Jessica Torode-Scott

Coordinator, B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network

Since 2017, Jessica has been the coordinator of the BC Cetacean Sightings Network at the Marine Mammal Research Program. After graduating from the University of Victoria with a BSc in Biology in 2009, Jessica worked at aquariums, wildlife rehabilitation centres and veterinary clinics before moving to Scotland to pursue her Masters Degree. Jessica completed her MSc in Marine and Fisheries Ecology at the University of Aberdeen where she studied the effects of commercial fishing on the diet and body condition of harbour porpoises in the North Sea.

Karina Dracott

Research Biologist/Acting Coordinator, North Coast Cetacean Research Initiative

Karina started as a research assistant with the Marine Mammal Research Program in 2017. Her current role is coordinating the North Coast Cetacean Research Initiative in Prince Rupert. After finishing her undergraduate degree in Geography at the University of Victoria she moved to Iceland to complete her Masters in Coastal Resource Management from the University of Akureyrei. Previously, Karina interned with the Canadian Hydrographic Service as a geospatial analyst and most recently worked in South Africa for Sustainable Seas Trust on issues of marine waste.

Sarah Patton

Research Biologist/Coordinator, Vancouver Island Cetacean Research Initiative

Sarah joined the Marine Mammal Research team in 2018 in her role as Research Biologist and Coordinator of the Vancouver Island Cetacean Research Initiative (VICRI). Her primary responsibilities include leading the establishment of the VICRI, and the engagement activities around Vancouver Island related to the Whale Report Alert System. Sarah holds an undergraduate degree in Marine Biology from Dalhousie University, a Masters degree in Marine Conservation Biology from James Cook University in Australia, and a diploma in Adult Education.  Sarah’s experience in her field includes many years’ work in research and conservation within governments in Canada, Australia, and the USA, with several Canadian and international non-profits, and within academia. 

Alannah Biega

Research Assistant/Coordinator, Wild Killer Whale Adoption Program

Alannah joined the Marine Mammal Research team in 2018 as a research assistant and the coordinator of the Wild Killer Whale Adoption Program. Her responsibilities include assisting with ongoing research projects and helping with BC Cetacean Sightings Network data acquisition and management. Alannah is a graduate of Simon Fraser University, where she pursued a Masters of Science exploring the role that zoos and aquaria play in species conservation. Prior to her work with the Marine Mammal Research team, Alannah worked at Ocean Wise with The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, where she used her background in data analysis and public engagement to inspire citizens to make a positive difference in their communities by leading a cleanup at their local shoreline.

Dylan Smyth

Research Assistant, Marine Mammal Research Program

Dylan joined the Marine Mammal Research Program in the summer of 2018 as a Research Assistant.  After graduating with his BSc from the University of Alberta, Dylan spent four years working on various projects monitoring the overall health of wild juvenile Pacific salmon migrations and corresponding oceanographic conditions throughout Johnstone Strait.  Between field seasons, he worked at Orcalab, a land-based research station that monitors killer whale and humpback populations 24 hours a day through an acoustic and live-video network.  He now operates the lab’s research vessel for the drone-based field research, assists with photogrammetry data analysis, and helps to manage the B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network database.