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Our team consists of a passionate and dedicated group of marine conservationists. Our international staff collects and analyzes scientific data throughout the country, trains the next generation of prospective researchers and scientists, and works to spread awareness about the importance of marine conservation. Our team has varied backgrounds, from veterinary medicine, to marine science, statistics, graphic arts, and law, but we all share a passion for the ocean.



Dr. Alessandro Ponzo

Executive Director

Dr. Ponzo began his career as an ethologist, completing his thesis on odontecete cognition. In 2002, he studied orca whales for a non-profit conservation organization in Alaska. In 2004, he was part of the first international expedition to search for the critically endangered Western Pacific Gray Whale along the Russian coast of the Bering Sea. In 2010, Dr. Ponzo founded the Large Marine Vertebrates Project in the Philippines, where he has been working tirelessly to conserve marine vertebrates in the Bohol Sea and throughout the country.

DVM, University of Perugia


Gonzalo Araujo

Executive Director

Gonzalo’s connection to the ocean began when he was a child in the waters of Southern Brazil. Following a lab-based degree in biotechnology, a spreadsheet based MSC, and office work around the UK, Gonzalo moved to the Philippines in search of that long-established connection. He found it when he joined LAMAVE in August of 2012. He currently studies the effects of the feeding of whale sharks in Tan-awan, Cebu, and on the whale sharks of Southern Leyte.

MSc. Management Science & Operational Research, University of Warwick

BSc. Biotechnology (Hons.), University of Nottingham

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Sally Snow

Executive Director

An associate producer in the UK, but a shark researcher in the Philippines, Sally first came to the Philippines in February 2012, where she volunteered with WWF-Philippines on their whale shark project in Donsol, Luzon. She then joined the LAMAVE team studying the effects of feeding and tourism on the local whale shark populations in Tan-awan, Oslob. After a brief stint filming for NGO Coral Cay Conservation based in Southern Leyte, she returned briefly to producing television programs in the UK. She returned to the Philippines at the beginning of 2013 to set up LAMAVE’s latest whale shark project in Southern Leyte. Follow Sally’s ‘Shark Tails’ at:

Bsc. Zoology and Psychology (Hons.) – University of Bristol


Jessica Labaja

Executive Director

Having grown up in the Philippines, Jess has always been close to the sea. She developed a deeper sense of awe and appreciation for the aquatic environment and marine conservation when she got her diving certification. After graduating from college and working for almost a year and a half in the IT industry, Jess volunteered for the LAMAVE whale shark research project in Oslob. She then decided to stay and help out in the Physalus’ other projects in the Philippines. She is currently part of the team based in Southern Leyte.

BSc. Information and Communication Technology Management – De La Salle University Manila


Ryan Murray

Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV) Project Leader

Growing up on the west coast of Ireland, Ryan’s love of the ocean came at an early age. This led to studies of marine science at N.U.I.G. in his hometown of Galway. Previous work with bottle-nose dolphins in the Shannon estuary reinforced his wish to work in research and conservation. Ryan joined LAMAVE in 2014 to focus on marine conservation in the Philippines.

BSc. Zoology, National University of Ireland, Galway


Emer McCoy

Donsol Whale Shark Project Leader

After growing up and graduating in London, Emer decided it was time to fly the nest and find her place in the world, which she found in the sea. After volunteering in the Dominican Republic collecting data on humpback whales, Emer joined the LAMAVE whale shark project in Cebu. Emer’s work focuses on describing local populations of whale sharks in Cebu and southern Luzon.

BSc. Zoology, Queen Mary University of London

Joshua Rambahiniarison

Joshua Rambahiniarison

Bohol Fisheries Project Leader

Josh grew up in the French Alps, though his roots are in Madagascar. While studying for his bachelor degree, he swapped his snowboard for diving gear and worked as a Dive master to raise people’s awareness about marine ecosystems. After completing his bachelor’s degree in Biology of Organisms and Populations Josh embarked on a two year master degree on Biodiversity and Sustainable Development at the University of Perpignan. This included a year at the University of Reunion Island studying Biodiversity and Tropical Ecosystems. With a keen interest in elasmobranchs, Josh is currently studying biological and ecological key parameters of the Mobulidae in the Bohol Sea.

Masters in Biodiversity and Sustainable Development, University of Perpignan

BSc. Biology of Organisms and Populations, University of Lyon


Mary Jane Lamoste

Bohol Fisheries Project Leader

MJ grew up between rice field and karabao (water buffalo) in Southern Leyte, Philippines.

April 2015, she graduated a Bsc major in Marine Biology at the Visayan State University, Baybay City, Leyte. November 2015, she joined Lamaves Mobulidae fishery project in Bohol as a Research Assistant. Happy from her experience, hungry of rice and marine conservation, she decided to sign up on board.

Despite she was hesitating between being a marine biologist or a teacher, she realized that here she could practice both.

BSc. Marine Biologist – Visayan State University, Baybay City