Photo credits: Oceanswell
We are privileged to be governed by a stellar team
Asha is a Sri Lankan marine biologist, ocean educator and pioneer of blue whale research within the Northern Indian Ocean. She calls the population of blue whales in Sri Lankan waters ‘the Unorthodox Whales’ because through many years of research, her work has shown that they are simply different. Asha has degrees from the University of St. Andrews, University of Oxford and the University of Western Australia but escaped academia to establish Oceanswell, Sri Lanka’s first marine conservation research and education non-profit. ‘The Sri Lankan Blue Whale Project’, commenced in 2008 is the first long term study on blue whales in this region and is Oceanswell’s flagship project. The research conducted through this project has led to many key research publications and is used to inform policy at the local and global level.
Additionally, the work has been showcased internationally by Channel 7 Australia (2010), the BBC (2010), the New York Times (2012), CNN (2012), WIRED UK (2014), the New Scientist (2014), TED (2015), Grist (2015), GOOD (2016), National Geographic (2016) and Nature (2017). Most excitingly, Asha is the first and only Sri Lankan to have a PhD in Marine Mammal research, the first Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation from Sri Lanka and also the first National Geographic Emerging Explorer from my small island nation. Asha is a TED Senior fellow, an Ocean Conservation Fellow at the New England Aquarium, a Duke Global Fellow in Marine Conservation, and a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. Her life’s work is to change the current marine conservation model, protect this unique population of blue whales and inspire the next generation of ocean heroes from all corners of the globe.
Dr. Sumith Pilapitiya is an Environmental Scientist with over 25 years of experience working in Asian countries in the environment and wildlife conservation sectors. He was a Lead Environmental Specialist for the World Bank and was responsible for the thematic areas of biodiversity and natural resource management for the South Asia Region’s Environment, Water Resources and Climate Change Unit of the World Bank.
He served the Government of Sri Lanka as the Director General of Wildlife Conservation for a brief period. He currently works part time for the World Bank’s Global Wildlife Program as an Advisor on Elephant Conservation and Human Elephant Conflict management, while spending the rest of his time studying elephant social behavior and communications.
Dr. Eric Wikramanayake is a conservation biologist with over 25 years of experience throughout Asia, working on landscape-scale spatial planning for conservation of endangered large mammals in Asia, ecosystem-based approaches to reducing climate change vulnerabilities, and assessing e-flows. He currently Chair and Science Advisor for the Environmental Foundation, Ltd (SFL), in Sri Lanka.
He has been a senior conservation scientist with the World Wildlife Fund for over 15 years, a Research Fellow with the Smithsonian Institution, Senior Strategic Advisor with the Biodiversity and Wildlife Program at RESOLVE, and consultant conservation advisor to the ADB’s GMS-BCC project.