Scientific Advisory Board

Prof. Enrique A. Crespo

Prof. Enrique A. Crespo received his doctorate from the University of Buenos Aires in 1988. He is currently a senior researcher at the National Research Council of Argentina and a professor of ecology at the University of Patagonia. He has been a member of the Cetacean Specialist Group (SSC, IUCN) since 1987 and Species Conservation Coordinator for Latin America since 1997. He was an advisor to UNEP and UNDP. He has participated in research and conservation projects in South America and Europe and has received 44 national and international grants from many organizations for research, organizing meetings and workshops, and training staff. He was deputy director of the Centro Nacional Patagónico. He has been an advisor to 7 PhD students (+ 7 in progress), 2 master's students and 23 undergraduate students. He is the author or co-author of 61 scientific articles on marine mammals of the region published in international journals, 23 book chapters and many working documents and technical reports for international meetings. He has been invited to the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission and is co-author of the Action Plan for the Whales and Dolphins of the World, 2002-2010. He has organized numerous conferences and workshops to solve problems of marine mammal conservation at the regional level for the Franciscana, South American sea lions and other seabirds and mammals of the Patagonian Sea, and he has been on the advisory board of YAQU PACHA since its inception in 1992.

Dr. Sonja Heinrich

Sonja is a marine biologist at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, where she organises and teaches a Masters course in marine mammals, which is unique in the world. Her research interests include population estimation, the distribution and coexistence of overlapping species, as well as habitat conservation and the protection of seals and whales, especially coastal small cetaceans. Sonja completed her studies at the University of Cologne (Biology) and the University of Otago (New Zealand) with degrees in Zoology and Oceanography (Masters). In New Zealand, she studied population dynamics, behaviour and tourism influence on a rare, native sea lion population. She then completed her doctorate at the University of St Andrews (UK), with a research project in South America. As part of her doctoral thesis, she founded the Chiloé Delfin (Small Whale) Project in the Chiloé Archipelago in southern Chile in 2000, which she still leads today. The Chiloé project has successfully developed into the first long-term study of the environmental ecology of Chilean dolphins, Peale's dolphins and Burmeister's porpoises in a region where the most intensive salmon and mussel farms lead to many sustainable ecological and social problems. Project results such as the determination of the population sizes of dolphin species, their habitat repentance, habitat use and the effects of negative human influences on the ecology of native species contribute significantly to the designation of important protected areas and the preparation of coastal use plans. Sonja regularly supervises student theses, participates in scientific conferences and advises state and private organizations on environmental issues related to whales and dolphins. When teaching and research at the university leave some freedom for once, Sonja likes to give lectures on small cruise ships and supervise tour groups in the Arctic and Antarctic. She is the founder of YAQU PACHA Chile and has been on the advisory board of YAQU PACHA for over 20 years.

Prof. Marila Lázaro

Marila is a professor at the Department of Science and Development of the Faculty of Science in Montevideo, Uruguay and has been on our advisory board for many years. As a biologist, she has conducted studies on the ethology and population structure of marine mammals. She has also carried out an environmental education project with children of small-scale fishermen to raise awareness about the accidental capture of the Franciscana dolphin (Pontoporia blainvillei). She holds a PhD in Philosophy, Science, Technology and Society from the University of the Basque Country. The topic of her doctoral thesis is: "The culture of science and social participation in environmental problems". Marila has been the supervisor of 9 undergraduate students (+ 1 in work), is the supervisor of 2 master's students in the field of environmental education and ethics and is one of the members of the first doctoral committee on the human dimension in the conservation and management of natural resources. She coordinated a consensus conference on nuclear energy in Uruguay (2010), a mechanism for public participation in science and technology. Marila is the founder of SIMURG, a non-governmental organization that promotes the social appropriation of science and art through projects that promote citizen participation in the creation and use of knowledge. She is a member of the Regional Advisory Boards of the Global Greengrants Fund and has been a long-time member of the Advisory Board of YAQU PACHA.

Prof. Eduardo Secchi

Prof. Eduardo Secchi

In 1989 I was in the second year of my studies in oceanography and I decided to dedicate myself to the study of marine mammals. At the end of 1991, I graduated from the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande FURG (Federal University of Rio Grande) in Rio Grande, southern Brazil. From 1991 to 1999, I was head of the Marine Mammal Laboratory at the "Museu Oceanográfico" (Oceanographic Museum) of FURG. Since 1992/93 I have been leading a long-term project to assess the impact of bycatch on the Franciscana dolphin. Both my master's degree (1999 at FURG) and my PhD (2006 at the University of Otago in New Zealand) and my postdoctoral fellowship at Flinders University (Australia – 2014) focused on the population dynamics and viability of the Franciscana. For this research, I was awarded the first prize for the best research paper on the protection of aquatic mammals in South America in 2000 and the Oliver Peason's Award of the American Society for Mammalogy in 2007. In parallel, I have led several research projects on the ecology and conservation of other marine megafauna species and their ecosystems in Brazil and Antarctica. These medium- and long-term projects have resulted in more than 160 publications in peer-reviewed journals and many other non-peer-reviewed papers. These publications provided input on genetics, population dynamics, fisheries interactions, stock identity, modelling and other areas relevant to the conservation of these species and their habitat. My medium-term goal is to propose measures to reduce the impact of fishing-related mortality on the fate of Franciscana and other coastal whale populations, while allowing local communities to secure their livelihoods through responsible use of natural resources (in this case, fish). My long-term goal is to better understand the dynamics, habitat requirements and threats of other marine megafauna species and to identify trends in Franciscana and other species. My primary goal on the Advisory Board is to build capacity in the field of human resources. Since 2006 I have been a professor at the Institute of Oceanography at FURG. I also head the Laboratory of Ecology and Conservation of Marine Megafauna (ECOMEGA) at the same university, where I supervised several undergraduate, master's, doctorate and post-doctoral students from Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. From 2002 to 2007, I was editor-in-chief (now editor emeritus) of the Latin American Journal of Aquatic Mammals and serve as an ad hoc reviewer for many scientific journals in Brazil and abroad. I was president of the Latin American Society of Aquatic Mammals – SOLAMAC (2015-2016). I have been a member of the Cetacean Specialist Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) since 1997, Level 1 Research Fellow of the Brazilian Council for Scientific and Technological Development, Deputy Rector for Research and Graduate Studies at FURG since 2017, and currently Chair of the Conservation Committee of the Society for Marine Mammalogy. He has been a member of the advisory board of YAQU PACHA for many years.

Dr. Alexandre N. Zerbini

Dr. Alexandre N. Zerbini holds a B.Sc in Biological Oceanography (1992) from the University of Rio Grande, Brazil; an M.S. in Zoology (1998) from the University of São Paulo, Brazil and a Ph.D. in Fisheries and Aquarium Sciences (2006) from the University of Washington, USA. He worked as a marine mammal biologist at the "Prof . Eliézer de Carvalho Rios" Oceanographic Museum in southern Brazil (1992-1995) and was an associate professor at the Institute of Marine Sciences of the University of Itajaí (1996-1999), where he gave a lecture on the biology and ecology of marine mammals. He has published more than 45 scientific papers and book chapters and has been involved in or coordinated research projects in Brazil, Antarctica, the United States, the Cook Islands, New Caledonia and the Caribbean. Zerbini is currently a research fellow at the National Marine Mammal Laboratory, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, NOAA in Seattle, USA. He is also the scientific director of the Instituto Aqualie, a non-profit organization in Brazil. Zerbini was an advisor to the Brazilian Environment Agency from 1998-99 and has been a member of the IUCN Whale and Dolphin Specialist Group since 1998 and a member of the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission since 2000. He is a member of the Society for Marine Mammalogy and the Latin American Society for Aquatic Mammals , a member of the editorial board of the Latin American Journal of Aquatic Mammals , a reviewer for various international journals and research organizations, and an advisory board member of YAQU PACHA.

Conferences and Workshops | Bottlenose dolphin project | Team Latin America | Membership