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.

Jessica Scott

Research Manager, B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network/WhaleReport Alert System

After volunteering with the BCCSN for a number of years, Jessica joined Ocean Wise as the BCCSN Coordinator in 2017.  Now, Jessica is the Research Manager for the BCCSN and leads the WhaleReport Alert System (WRAS) project at Ocean Wise. 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 Manager, 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.

Julie Merchel

Coordinator, North Coast Cetacean Research Initiative

Julie started with the Marine Mammal Research Program in the summer of 2020 and transitioned to her current role as an interim Coordinator in 2021. After completing her HBSc in Biology and Graduate Certificate in Leadership and Applied Public Affairs at Trinity Western University in 2017, she moved to Vancouver Island to pursue a career in marine science. Julie has worked as a Dockside Fisheries Observer, Marine Sciences Educator, Coastal Naturalist, and Field Assistant across the BC coast.

Aaron Purdy

Coordinator, Southern Vancouver Cetacean Research Initiative

Aaron has been acting as the Coordinator for the Southern Vancouver Island Cetacean Research Initiative since he joined the Marine Mammal Research Program in 2019. Here he works to promote the BC Cetacean Sightings Network, educate BC residents about whale conservation, and coordinate research in the Southern Vancouver Island area. Since completing his BSc in Zoology from the University of Calgary, Aaron has worked both as a researcher and educator in the non-profit sector. He graduated from the University of British Columbia in 2019 with a MSc in Zoology where he studied the diving physiology of Steller sea lions.   

Dr. Lauren Dares

Research Scientist, BC Cetacean Sightings Network

 Lauren joined Ocean Wise in 2019.  She oversees BCCSN data collection and is responsible for conducting research using BCCSN data to increase understanding of the abundance and seasonal distribution of cetaceans and sea turtles in British Columbia.  Prior to starting with the BCCSN, Lauren completed her PhD at Trent University, focusing on the ecology and conservation of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins in Hong Kong and Taiwan.