Stella Diamant, MSc
Project Founder & Leader
After first working with WWF Madagascar in 2011 as part of a conservation 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 whale shark team of the Marine Megafauna Foundation for their Tanzanian field season in 2015, and since then has been leading the MWSP, gathering funding, analysing data and both preparing and leading field seasons in Nosy Be.
Bruno Hélio Benjara
Bruno Hélio Benjara is from Nosy Be and works as an education instructor. He is in charge of both weekly ocean-themed activities and the school programme, developed in partnership with the Marine Megafauna Foundation, and established in collaboration with our partner MADA Megafauna.
Léonce Costika Fidiarisandratra
Léonce is a master student originally from Fianarantsoa at the Institut Halieutique et des Sciences Marines (IH.SM). He was our first Malagasy research assistant during the field season, as part of a new collaboration with the IHSM school in Tuléar. Léonce is now busy writing his masters thesis on the social distribution of whale sharks.
We are lucky to benefit from the expertise and time of previous volunteers who first came to Madagascar to swim with the sharks, and later decided to help us run the project year-round:
-Léa Gonçalves : fundraising and administration
-Alexandra Salmon-Lefranc: administration and translation
-Stéphane Gennai: IT
Simon J. Pierce, PhD
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. Simon came to Nosy Be several times, and is also hosting yearly whale shark trips in Nosy Be with travel company Aqua-Firma.
Jeremy J. Kiszka, PhD
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 written more than 60 scientific papers and book chapters, and published in 2016 the book entitled Sharks and Rays: a field guide to common elasmobranchs of East Africa. Jeremy joined us during the 2017 field season.
Les Baleines Rand’eau
Arthur and Tanguy 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.
Elina is the co-founder and coordinator of MADA Megafauna, a local NGO who we collaborate with on both the volunteer programme and the education programme. This year the NGO will focus on expanding the education’s activities through the island.
Research Team – 2018
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!
Research Team – 2017
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. For his MSc thesis at the University of Bremen, he has been investigating whale shark energetics with our partner the Marine Megafauna Foundation in Tanzania.
The previous seasons were made possible thanks to both financial and in-kind contribution by Vocatio, the Clear Reef Foundation Social Fund, the Shark Foundation, Lush Charity Pot, IdeaWild, Aqua-Firma, Natural World Safaris, MADA Megafauna, Les Baleines Rand’eau, the Tropical Conservation Institute, the Batchelor Foundation, Flying Sharks, the PADI Foundation, Cressi and Waterlust.