Meet the presenters

The Island Whale Festival is privileged to have some amazing scientists & presenters on board to share their passion & wealth of experience. Read below to hear all about their amazing work & be sure to book in for one of the sessions.

Jessica Lazarus

Jessica Lazarus

I’m a born and bred Dandenong Ranges girl.  I love the Hills, Creeks, Rivers & Oceans! I have loved volunteering & engaging with the community from a young age which led me to volunteer for over 10 years in the Marine Education field. During this time, I continued to study at Swinburne TAFE completing a Diploma of Natural Resource Management.  Later I completed further study with University of Tasmania completing a Bachelor of Educational Studies.

I have worked in environmental education for 20+yrs in various paid positions.  This allowed me to travel extensively throughout Victoria.   During this time I developed a passion for not only marine life but for waterways & anything else that could creep and crawl!   In 2004, I won an “Award of Excellence for Marine Education” in the Primary Education category.

I took time off work to spend more time with my 3 children, as two of my sons have Autism (ASD) and needed extra support. During this time, I continued to undertake further studies with a focus on outdoor classrooms and sustainability education.

In 2013, I returned to teaching in the environmental education sector and was able to re-join Dolphin Research Institute after a long hiatus.  I also trained up & joined Melbourne Water’s Waterwatch program & volunteer with Platypus Education Group.  I am also a passionate presenter of STEM based education programs through PrimeSCI.

I love working with children & adults of all ages and engaging them within their local environment.  In my spare time you’ll find me working in my garden or undertaking house renovations, working in the local community, or walking one of the many nature trails near my home.

Presentations at Island Whale Festival:

Whales Tail Identification – Fri 1 – 11am, Sat 2 – 9.30am, Sun 3 – 9.15am

Whale Festival Hub

BOOK HERE

Whale out of Water – Fri 1 / Sat 2 / Sun 3 – 1pm, 2.30pm & 4pm

Whale Festival Hub

BOOK HERE

Dr Sue Mason

Dr Sue Mason

Growing up I always had an affinity for the water. But it wasn’t until I volunteered on a humpback whale project in Hawaii, that I fell in love with marine science.

Working alongside and learning from researchers from the University of Hawaii, I returned to Maui each year for eight years to be part of the project. Eventually, the desire to become a marine scientist myself became a reality and I completed my Science degree at Monash University. My Honours research led to working with the common dolphins in Port Phillip. Eventually, as part of my PhD study completed through Curtin University, I was able to show that the common dolphins that can be observed between Mt Eliza and Mt Martha, are resident to the bay. Their residency to this location is atypical of the species, which makes me wonder if other common dolphin communities along the Victorian coast are similar?

Today, I have the privilege of teaching and sharing my passion for Science with the incredible girls at Camberwell Girls Grammar School. I’m also an Associate Research Fellow at Deakin University, an honorary position that allows me to guide and mentor University students who want to research cetaceans.

My personal mantra is ‘Good Science, good people, good puppies and good coffee’.  While it encapsulates all the things I love, my heart still lies where I started in marine science……. with humpback whales.

 About #the_caffeinated_biologist

Coffee and cetaceans, is there anything better? During my PhD and the common dolphin citizen science project that I ran, in conjunction with a local not-for-profit organisation, my volunteers and I would often ‘relax’ after our field sessions with a latte at one of our favourite cafes. This ‘habit’ stuck, and the caffeinated biologist evolved.

Presentations at Island Whale Festival:

Marine Career Session – I want to be a Marine Biologist Sat 2 – 11.45am, Sun 3 – 1.45pm 

Whale Festival Hub

BOOK HERE

Common good – Citizen science & common dolphins  Sat 2 – 3.15pm, Sun 3 – 4.15pm 

Whale Festival Hub

BOOK HERE

Dr Rebecca McIntosh

Dr Rebecca McIntosh

Research Scientist with Phillip Island Nature Parks (PINP) since 2013, Rebecca has worked with marine predators for over 20 years with a focus on seals. Her areas of interest include marine protected species conservation with over 30 peer-reviewed publications.

Rebecca’s research experience includes remote offshore islands & currently, she is researching fur seals as sentinel species of ocean change. Projects include ecosystem-scale research to monitor changes in population size & foraging ecology, & the mitigation of threatening processes. Specific research includes investigations into: foraging behaviour & diet using satellite-linked tracking devices; health, ecotoxicity & stress; disease influence on abortion & pup survival; & marine plastic. Human behaviour change programs have been implemented to reduce plastic inputs to the ocean.

Rebecca is a licensed drone pilot, investigating remote systems & citizen science to study fur seal populations without disturbance. The seal research team “Seals as Ecosystem Sentinels” won the 2020 Victorian Marine and Coastal Awards under the – Distinction in Biodiversity and Ecosystem Conservation category. Rebecca has an honorary appointment at the Sydney School of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney. See Google Scholar, Research Gate and PINP website for further details.

Current projects

  • Health and disease in Australian fur seals
  • Ecotoxicology and pollutants
  • Diet of Australian and Long-nosed fur seals
  • Diving and foraging behaviour
  • Climate change and breeding habitat loss
  • Marine plastic ingestion and entanglement
  • Stress and behavioural responses of seals to boats at Seal Rocks
  • Citizen Science and drones to monitor fur seal populations

Presentations at Island Whale Festival:

Marine Career Session – I want to be a Marine Biologist Sat 2 – 11.45am, Sun 3 – 1.45pm 

Whale Festival Hub

BOOK HERE

Ben Franchischelli

Ben Franchischelli

Hi there! I’m a palaeontologist and science communicator and I’m on the hunt for the largest predators that have ever existed. I work with an incredible group of citizen scientists that are rewriting what we know about the evolution of life in southern Australia.

As a palaeontologist, I primarily focus on the preparation, identification, and conservation of fossil Cenozoic megafauna from Southern Australia. I’m an expert preparator and conservator. I launch expeditions (both on land and underwater) along Victoria’s coastline to recover scientifically important specimens for the state collection.

As a science communicator, I utilize social media platforms to communicate the evolution of life. I’m passionate about communicating the story of life on this planet and making it accessible to a general audience.

About “A Fools Experiment”

Bens’ social media channels have garnered worldwide attention. His discussion on whale evolution and his underwater videos collecting fossil material in Australia are unique. Follow him below to keep up to date with his shenanigans!

Insta: @a_fools_experiment FB: @a.fools.experiment1 Twitter: BFrancischelli

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCI7eAPlkN1Sv88Gk8TX8OBg

Presentation for Island Whale Festival: 

The Killer Sperm Whales – Sat 2 – 10.30am & Sun 3 – 12.30pm

Whale Festival Hub

BOOK HERE

David Donnelly

David Donnelly

David Donnelly is a Melbourne based marine researcher and science communicator with a passion for marine conservation. He has extensive experience in a range of scientific disciplines as well as field experience ranging from fine-scale monitoring of the intertidal zone to open ocean surveys.

David is currently employed by the Dolphin Research Institute where he is responsible for vessel-based activities, project management and mentoring the next generation of marine mammal scientists. He is also employed by Melbourne based marine environmental consultancy firm ‘Fathom Pacific’.

David has spent the last 25+ years working alongside some of the world’s leading marine mammal scientists, studying whales and dolphins across Australia, the South Pacific, New Zealand and the Antarctic and Sub-Antarctic. He has worked with the Australian Antarctic Division, the Australian military and the Department of Conservation, New Zealand and is currently affiliated with three Australian universities.

Locally, David is coordinator of two citizen science project: Two Bays Whale Project and Killer Whales Australia. He also coordinates field efforts in the study of local dolphin communities, including the unique Port Phillip common dolphins with the Dolphin Research Institute.   

Presentation for Island Whale Festival:

Spot a Whale – Fri 1 & Sat 2 – 10am & 12pm

Woolamai Beach Surf Life Saving Club

BOOK HERE

Whales of Victoria – Fri 1 – 4.30pm, Sat 2 – 3pm

Whale Festival Hub

BOOK HERE

Mandy Robertson

Mandy Robertson

From the UK originally, Mandy studied Microbiology at Leeds University and spent her first years in medical research: Cancer Research UK Birmingham University- cervical cancer vaccine; & Walter and Eliza Hall Institute Melbourne University- diabetes prophylaxis.

One returning to the UK in 1995, Mandy became a secondary teacher, Biology to A Level (VCE equivalent) with General Science to Year 10 and also an external examiner for A Level, GCSE and SATs (NAPLAN). She moved to Australia in 2007 with her partner and young son and was a stay-at-home mum for 2 years. Rather than go back into formal teaching, she started to become involved in the conservation world, working part time with Clean Ocean Foundation, campaigning for upgrades to the outfall at Gunnamatta on the Mornington Peninsula, where she lives.

Mandy then joined the Dolphin Research Institute as Education Director in 2011 and has been there ever since, growing the programs and the primary school leadership program to 90 schools across the Melbourne metro region. Her passion is communicating the value of our marine life and the issues it faces, Climate Change and pollution, alongside the solutions and practical steps people can take. It’s really important to empower the next generation as they will be the ones taking over.

In 2020 she won Environment Education Victoria’s Community Educator of the Year and in 2021 was named as the Dame Phyllis Frost Award Winner from Keep Victoria Beautiful.

Mandy is also a member of Rye Beach Patrol and the Save Our Spider Crabs Committee, asking for a No Take season during the moulting aggregations in winter.

When she not working or “saving the planet””, you’ll find her snorkeling, kayaking or climbing.

Presentations at Island Whale Festival:

Whales Tail Identification – Fri 1 – 11am, Sat 2 – 9.30am, Sun 3 – 9.15am

Whale Festival Hub

BOOK HERE

Whale out of Water – Fri 1 / Sat 2 / Sun 3 – 1pm, 2.30pm & 4pm

Whale Festival Hub

BOOK HERE

Dr Kasey Stamation

Dr Kasey Stamation

I am a marine mammal scientist who has been involved in whale research for over 20 years. I work for the Arthur Rylah Research Institute for Environmental Research (ARI) –  a leading centre of applied ecology research that sits within the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP).

I am passionate about research that provides important information to help protect threatened species and ensure that they are around for a long time to come. A key project I am involved in is the monitoring of the endangered Southern Right Whale in Victorian waters, through photo-identification.

All southern right whales have a unique pattern of white features (called callosities) on their head. By studying these we can identify and follow individual whales. This can provide important information about their movements, breeding patterns and how well the population is recovering (post whaling). We collect photos from a variety of sources including drones (flown under a wildlife research permit), fixed-winged aircraft and from the wonderful whale-watching community who send in their photos (via our online platform called WhaleFace)

If you would like to hear more about the southern right whales that visit Victoria, the work my colleagues and I are doing at DELWP and/or how you can join the WhaleFace community, please come and hear my talk during the Island Whale Festival weekend or send me an email Kasey.stamation@delwp.vic.gov.au.

Presentation for Island Whale Festival: 

What’s in a Face – Sat 2 July – 2pm & Sun 3 July – 11.15am

Whale Festival Hub

BOOK HERE

Dr Kasey Stamation

Chris Farrell 

Chris Farrell has spent the last 35 years every winter looking for & enjoying the Whales that visit the coastline of Australia.

In the early 2000’s, he started going up in light aircraft to capture whales from the air & actively contribute to the South East Australia Southern Right Whale Pic catalogue for Victoria.

He became more active with the World Wide Fund for Nature Australia in 2012 as an accredited fundraiser through sales of his merchandise.

In 2015 he completed aerial images of the entire coastline of Victoria & found his first 2 Southern Right Whales that had not been recorded previously for the SEA SRW pic catalogue. Since then, he has discovered many more via his self-funded aerials and via land/boat-based photography.

In 2016, he was asked to be involved in a series of Mammal, Reptile and Bird guides with Peter Rowland and is co-author of “A Naturalist Guide to the Reptiles of Australia’, ‘A Naturalist Guide to the Mammals of Australia’ and ‘Australia’s Birdwatching Megaspots’ – all endowed by the Australia Geographic.

In 2021, he acquired his first ecotourism property to protect Woodland birds in the Wangaratta area.

Chris is planning to photograph more of the Australian coastline in search of Southern Right Whales for the SWIFFT WhaleFace pic catalogue https://www.SWIFFT.net.au/WhaleFace/

He also helps via talks and his Facebook group ‘Whale watchers South East Australia’

Chris has been involved with the Island Whale Festival since its inception.

Presentation for Island Whale Festival:

Following a passion for the Nature World

Sat 1 July – 1pm & Sun 3 July – 10.15am

Whale Festival Hub

BOOK HERE

Chris Farrell Nature Photography – Stall

Chris will be selling his autographed books and images at this stall with 100% of his sales being donated to Southern Right Whale conservation projects throughout Australia

Dr Kasey Stamation

Zev Landes

Zev is a published cartoonist and illustrator whose artwork celebrates the ridiculousness of life through humour. His playful characters bring to life issues of wildlife conservation, social commentary and even surfing.  Using cartoons, Zev seeks to re-communicate complicated ideas and concepts in easy and accessible ways, and whilst his work is deeply influenced by life in Australia, his work is published and used around the world.

His cartoons, illustrations, animations and infographics tell the stories of creatures that will make you laugh and stir your heart.

Zev designed and created our fantastic Island Whale Festival mascots you will spot all over town – Wanda the Humpback Whale & Laena the Southern Right Whale.

Presentation for Island Whale Festival:

How to draw a cartoon whale workshop

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© 2021 Island Whale Festival