Dr Hawkins is a marine ecologist specializing in cetaceans, a wildlife guide and marine educator, environmental consultant and conservationist. Her passion for marine conservation and education led Dr Hawkins to establish Dolphin Research Australia in 2012. Dr Hawkins has over 20 years’ experience in marine mammal research and education. Her research has focused on the ecology, biology and conservation of coastal cetaceans in Australia. She has a particular interest in the social systems, communication, population dynamics, risk assessments and health of dolphins. Part of her ongoing research continues to focus on the long-term trends, abundance and social systems of dolphins in the Northern New South Wales and South East Queensland region.Her work has been published in international peer-reviewed journals, book chapters, and international conferences (see publications). Her work has featured in a variety of media including New Scientist, The Australian and Animal Planet. She has also been consultant for numerous media and documentary productions including BBC’s Planet Earth series. Dr Hawkins is also an expert marine mammal science advisor for non-government organisations and government agencies.
Dr Hawkins is a passionate educator and has helped to develop academic courses in marine mammal ecology, biology, stranding and incident response, in addition to, cetacean tour guide and operator training and education programs for school students. She often is an invited guest speaker at different events and workshops for community and specialist groups. She has written numerous books and education resources for children on cetaceans and marine conservation.
In addition to her scientific and education roles, Dr Hawkins is also an artist and illustrator. She produces artworks in multi-media including watercolour, ink, block printing and textiles that are inspired by nature and caring for the Planet. Her artwork is featured in our Dolphin Research Australia online store.
Founding Director, President, Education Manager
Isabela loves working with youth. Her background in education and psychology helped her develop resources and programs with a focus on self/group/environmental awareness. Isabela is originally from Brazil, where she worked as an English language teacher for more than ten years and got her degree in Bachelor of Psychology with a major in analytical psychology. Living in the Northern Rivers since 2004, Isabela has been an active member of the community through her hobbies and work. She is the sustainability coordinator, student support officer and school chaplain at the primary campus of Sathya Sai College, a Human Values based school. Isabela’s work involves ongoing collaboration with her colleagues, students, parents and the wider community to promote positive changes through ‘litter literacy’, waste management and wildlife conservation. Her passion for dolphins has inspired her to raise awareness about these fascinating animals and the environment through education and conservation. In addition to her education role, Isabela is currently furthering her study in marine science at Southern Cross University.
Director, Vice President
Tamzin has been studying cetacean (dolphins, whales and porpoises) and other animal behaviour in Australia and the UK for over 20 years. As a comparative psychologist (AHPRA registered) she is mainly interested in the ‘inner lives’ of animals, in particular cetaceans and felines. Her work with cetaceans includes environmental education programs for children, interactions between people and wild dolphins, emotions, social interactions and object carrying by wild male Australian humpback dolphins. Her work has been published in an international peer-reviewed journal, and she has presented at conferences and published eBooks (see publications). As well as studying cetaceans, she has designed interactive enrichment programs to strengthen the bond between people and their cats, developed shelter welfare programs, and is an applied animal behaviourist (registered with the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors). Tamzin has been passionate about animals and wildlife since she was a child and along with being a scientist she is also an artist exhibiting marine, botanical and wildlife art in water colour, mixed media and graphite. She has been part of Dolphin Research Australia since 2017 and is delighted to be part of such an important and passionate research and education team.
David is an engineer and commercial manager. He worked for several years in mechanical and production engineering roles in Silicon Valley. After emigrating from California to northern New South Wales in 1989, he began working in the mining industry. He held senior technical and commercial roles in the international mining industry in the areas of mineral processing, alumina processing, solvent extraction, ion exchange, and water treatment over the past 25 years. His later roles focused on industrial waste remediation. David has been a surfer for nearly 50 years and has a great respect for the ocean and its many inhabitants. He has enjoyed the company of the local bottle nose dolphins on many occasions and feels great joy when they swim close enough to say Hello.
Bribie Island Dolphin Watch Coordinator, Editor & Director
Pete Garbett was born and raised on the Gold Coast and has over 45 years of experience with cetaceans. He has worked with captive and wild cetaceans since the early 1970s, with Australian Whale Conservation Society, Queensland Museum, Society for Marine Mammalogy, Sea World Research and Rescue Foundation, Norfolk Island Whale Survey, Shark Meshing Community Liaison Group – Gold Coast, and Bribie Island Dolphin Sightings. He formed, and is lead administrator for, Cetal Fauna, a social media platform that disseminates a variety of information on cetaceans. Pete’s special interests are delphinid taxonomy and nomenclature, and his skills include proofreading and editing which he brings to Dolphin Research Australia.
Research Associate & Director
Lara is a marine biologist who has been studying cetaceans for approximately 9 years. Her passion for the ocean and the environment started as a child living on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. Since then she has completed her bachelor’s degree in Marine Science and her Honours project on Australian humpback dolphins at Southern Cross University. She got her start in cetacean work with Dr Liz during her undergraduate degree, helping with the Byron Bay Dolphin Research Project and she has been hooked ever since. She has had experience with humpback whale acoustics, and dolphin sociology, ecology, and behaviour. She is passionate about conservation and education firmly believes in sharing this with the public to help connect people with the environment they live in.
Lara’s journey with Dolphin Research Australia began as a volunteer in 2011 as an intern. She later completed her honours and research assistant position with the organisation. Lara was honoured to be offered a position on the Board of Directors in 2019 and hopes to continue to contribute to the better understanding and conservation of both dolphins and the world they call home.
Technical Officer & Administration Support
Grown up in Germany, Christian had nothing to do with the oceans and all the critters living in it. Instead he grew up hiking in the mountains, enjoying his winters on the snowboard or nordic skiing and paddling on lakes. After finishing his university degree in engineering, materials science (Dipl.-Ing.), he decided to go on a trip around Australia and started volunteering for Dolphin Research Australia. He fell in love with the ocean and deeply enjoys working with the dolphins. Overall he is a man of many talents and supports the organisation in numerous ways including assisting with statistical analysis, team supervision and coordination. In addition to assisting Dolphin Research Australia, Christian is also a statistical consultant and tutor.
Heather Pheloung grew up in the bush in Western Victoria, where she developed a love of Australian wildlife and environment, which inspired her to complete a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Zoology. After living in England for a number of years while working as Business Manager for the family business, she couldn’t stay away from Australia any longer, and she landed in the Byron Shire, surrounded by lush rainforest mountains and the stunning Byron coastline. She loves the special marine animals that live in and visit the sea around Byron Bay, and she is a keen advocate for their protection. She also enjoys being part of the local community, and supports her children’s school as a member of their P&C committee. She is having the time of life being a part of the Dolphin Research Australia team, helping the dolphins of Moreton Bay Brisbane, Byron Bay, Ballina and beyond.
Merryn is an environmental scientist and conservationist with a passion for the ocean and all its inhabitants. She is an avid sea turtle lover with 9 years’ experience in marine turtle monitoring and research including remote Barrier Reef island fieldwork. Recently she was employed as the Scientific Coordinator with flatback turtles in a monitoring program within Western Australia, where she led the scientific Mark-Recapture program for the season and coordinated the Citizen Science Turtle Volunteer program for the area. She has experience working on the Queensland Marine Wildlife ‘StrandNet’ stranding database, as well as experience in leading educational tours and facilitating activities based on the importance of recycling, plastic-free alternatives and marine species identification. Merryn has grown up around the dolphins that regularly visit the beach and river around Brunswick Heads and is keen to branch out from all things turtle and learn more about the amazing lives and behaviours of cetaceans.
Victoria has always had a passion for dolphins and environmental protection. She was born in New Zealand and has lived and worked in Newcastle and Sydney. She now calls the beautiful North Coast home. Victoria completed a Bachelor of Environmental Science at Newcastle University and has nearly completed a Bachelor of Education (Primary, specialising in Special Education). She has volunteered with many organisations including Australian Conservation Volunteers, the Kooragang Island Research Project, Sea World Gold Coast and now Dolphin Research Australia. Her professional experience is in product and database management which has offered her the flexibility of working from home while bringing up her two children. Victoria loves being out on the water with Dolphin Research Australia assisting with research surveys which has renewed her passion for all things dolphin.
Honours Student, University of New England
Shaun grew to love whales and dolphins when he was a kid, this came largely from the Free Willy movie that he adored and essentially caused my extreme admiration and love for orca. It’s his ultimate end goal to participate/undertake orca research all over the world. Shaun has completed a Bachelor of Zoology at the University of New England at the end of 2019 which has led him into a Honours program with Dr Cara Miller and Dr Liz Hawkins at Dolphin Research Australia. He will be utilizing data collected over the last decade to investigate residency patterns for the Indo-Pacific dolphin population around the Byron Bay area.