Stella Diamant, MSc
Project Founder & Leader
After first working with WWF Madagascar in 2011 as part of a fisheries project, Stella was drawn back to Africa and visited the continent on various occasions while working on conservation projects. On another visit to Madagascar in 2014 after graduating with an MSc from Imperial College in London, Stella saw the potential for a research project investigating the yet unstudied whale shark population found in Nosy Be and started exploring opportunities to form partnerships and initiate the MWSP. Stella joined the MMF whale shark team for their Tanzanian field season in 2015 and since has been leading the MWSP, gathering funding, analysing data and both preparing and leading field seasons in Nosy Be.
Simon J. Pierce, PhD
Project Supervisor & Principal Scientist at the Marine Megafauna Foundation
Simon began working on whale sharks in 2005 off Tofo, Mozambique. His international work on the population ecology and management of this iconic species has made him a world expert on whale shark conservation. Simon co-founded the Marine Megafauna Foundation in 2012, where he is a Principal Scientist, and is currently a regional co-chair of the IUCN Shark Specialist Group and science advisor to the Wildbook for Whale Sharks global photo-identification library. You can find out more about Simon’s work on his marine biology and photography website, and he regularly updates his Facebook page and Instagram account from the field. Simon joined us in Nosy Be in both 2016 and 2017, and is also hosting yearly whale shark trips in Nosy Be with travel company Aqua-Firma.
Jeremy J. Kiszka, PhD
Project Supervisor & Research Assistant Professor at Florida International University
Jeremy currently leads a number of research projects on the ecology and behaviour of sharks, and other large marine vertebrates, in French Polynesia, in the western Indian Ocean and in the Caribbean. He also serves as an expert for the Shark Specialist Group of the IUCN. In 2016, he initiated the Global FinPrint project activities in Madagascar, and facilitated the inception of the MWSP thanks to his extensive experience in Madagascar. Jeremy has published more than 60 scientific papers, book chapters, and the recently published book Sharks and Rays: a field guide to common elasmobranchs of East Africa. Jeremy joined us during the 2017 field season.
Tanguy & Arthur Guillemain d’Echon
Tanguy and Arthur have been leading ecotourism trips around Nosy Be since 2001 as well as collecting photo-IDs since 2015. They were instrumental in organising the MWSP’s first season in 2016, and have since welcomed the MWSP’s field team on their boats every day with captains Pat, Black and Franck and guides Juliet, Mathieu and Thomas.
Elina is the coordinator of Mada Megafauna, our partner NGO in Nosy Be. She manages the project’s on-site logistics, as well as Mada Megafauna’s volunteer programme and the Whale Festival happening each September in Nosy Be.
Bruno Hélio Benjara is from from Nosy Be and is our new animator, in charge of both weekly ocean-themed activities and the school programme as part of a partnership with our partner the Marine Megafauna Foundation. Welcome Bruno!
Léonce Fidiarisandratra is a master student from Fianarantsoa at the Institut Halieutique et des Sciences Marines (IHSM). and is our first Malagasy research assistant, as part of a new collaboration with the IHSM. We are very excited to have him onboard!
This year we already trained and welcomed to the team Juliette, Chloé, Dianne, Chantal, Guillaume, Mario, Pierre, Amandine, Raphael, Florian, Léa, Tine, Alexandra and Stéphane who have joined the team as volunteers through our local partner MADA Megafauna. Thanks for the hard work and dedication guys!
Joshua Rambahiniarison joined us in November. He holds a masters degree from Montpellier University, and runs Lamave‘s mobula fisheries project in the Philipines.
Vincent Quiquempois is a graduate student at Florida International University, and joined us in October to assist with whale shark research while developing a new green turtle project at Sakatia Island.
We also had the pleasure to welcome keen volunteers joining us for a few weeks, a new programme developed by our local partner Mada Megafauna. Many thanks to Kelly, Carole, Fanny, Arnault, Guillaume, Michael and Mylène for their efforts!
Research Team – 2016
Fadia Al Abbar previously studied whale sharks with LAMAVE and studied dolphin acoustics for her MSc in Marine Ressource Management at Wageningen University. Fadia spent a month with us in November.
Jens Paulsen was with us in October, he has been investigating whale shark energetics with MMF in Tanzania for his MSc thesis at the University of Bremen.
The MWSP Team in October 2016 with, from Baleines Rand’eau skippers; Patrick, Black and Frank, then from left to right; Stella, Arthur, Juliet, Tanguy and Jens
Mada Megafauna – The Malagasy NGO was founded by Les Baleines Rand’eau in 2016 to further study and protect marine wildlife in the Nosy Be region. As our local partner, the team provides invaluable logistic support necessary to ensure the smooth running of the MWSP.
Madagascar Centre National de Recherches Océanographiques (CNRO) – The National Center for Oceanographic Research in Madagascar, based in Nosy Be. The Center provides logistic support for fieldwork.
The 2017 season was made possible thanks to financial contribution by the Shark Foundation, Lush, IdeaWild, Aqua-Firma, MADA Megafauna, Baleines Rand’eau, the Tropical Conservation Institute and the Batchelor Foundation.