Colin Speedie.

Founded the WiSe Scheme in 2003 after many years of working at sea as a commercial Yachtmaster in charge of sailing vessels involved in research projects.

Colin has worked on research projects for a number of Conservation NGO’s studying cetaceans, turtles and basking sharks.  In recent years he has run a research programme on basking sharks between the English Channel and the Western Isles of Scotland, and has written reports for a number of Government agencies based on the findings from that work.

He hopes that the range and depth of experience embodied in the WiSe Instructors can be harnessed to help to ensure that people going out to sea to view marine life do so in a sustainable and safe manner at all times.

Colin Speedie HR

Lissa Goodwin

I originally trained as a marine biologist, before going on to specialise in cetacean (whales, dolphins and porpoises) ecology. Since then I have developed my expertise in marine conservation, and now work for The Wildlife Trusts, as part of the national Living Seas team. I became involved in WiSe following my study of the impacts of motorised craft on bottlenose dolphins. Having had many positive experiences watching dolphins from boats it was clear that there is a way to watch these animals without disrupting their natural behaviours – hence I became involved in WiSe! I think we are currently in a really exciting time – with new legislation recently being passed in the form of the Marine and Coastal Access Act. I believe that we have a chance to make a real difference – to restore our seas to health, abundance and productivity, but only if we seize the opportunities available to us now.

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Powell Strong

I have specialised in marine mammal, particularly seal population survey and monitoring for the statutory agencies, since 1991.  I have worked on and supervised  cetaceans and basking shark surveys.  I have recently published a paper in the Journal of Ecotourism on seal disturbance and lecture marine biology and environmental science.  I have been involved with the Pembrokeshire Marine Code since it’s inception and am a member of the working group.  I have worked as a tour guide on the wildlife tour boats and run my own land based guided walks and field studies.  My interests are the sustainable management of marine mammal populations and am currently researching the combined impacts of human activities, on marine mammal populations, such as tidal energy generators and tour boats.  I deliver WISE training in relation to marine mammals as well as basking sharks, sunfish and turtles.

Deborah Benham (PhD)After completing a PhD in wildlife tourism, I joined the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society as Project Officer for the Dolphin Space Program (DSP), an accreditation scheme for wildlife tour boats in the Moray Firth, Scotland. This role involves working with the tourism industry and other local stakeholders to encourage high quality dolphin watching activities which do not cause disturbance to marine wildlife. As part of this work I hosted WiSe training courses for the DSP operators and eventually became a trainer myself. In addition to my DSP work I also run training courses for wildlife guides, with a particular focus on interpretive skills and conservation messaging.  In 2008 I set up my own eco-holiday company called Wild at Heart and I am also on the board of directors for the local destination management group. I remain an enthusiastic supporter of high quality, environmentally friendly and conservation orientated nature-based tourism in Scotland and see WiSe as an excellent tool for achieving these goals.Websites:Dolphin Space Programme: www.dolphinspace.orgWild at Heart: www.wildatheart-ecoholidays.comWDCS:
Sarah Brown: I originally trained as a Geologist at Queen’s in Belfast but it soon became clear to me that although I was fascinated by rocks I loved the sea still more. My career has taken me from The Wildlife Trusts working with the Urban Wildlife Partnership to the dusty plains of Zambia where I worked for WWF but with no coastline in sight I knew I had to come back to the UK eventually.I have worked with The Green Blue, the environmental programme for recreational boaters in the UK for almost 5 years, both in England and now in Scotland. I sail regularly on the West Coast of Scotland and I have spent many hours at sea staring at the horizon waiting for the distinctive blow of a cetacean and I know that watching marine wildlife can be a frustrating but also an immensely rewarding experience.I first came across Wise in 2003 and I have been a keen supporter ever since. The mix of science based evidence and practical advice for skippers and crew makes it one of the most valuable training programmes around today and I am proud to be part of the team.Email: Telephone : 07867 623683
David AinsleyI trained as a marine zoologist, worked as a fish farmer and then, in 1987, set up as a creel fisherman in the Firth of Lorn. Three years later I started chartering – wildlife and diving trips – and am still at it. Our family holidays find us traveling worldwide to see wildlife above and below the waves. It has become clear to me that having marine protected areas and watching animals and birds without causing disturbance is not just the right thing to do, it is also brings sustainable income to local people.I am an enthusiastic supporter of the WiSe scheme as it helps people see the benefits of not causing disturbance in an informative and entertaining way. Dave
Myles FarnbankAn experienced wilderness guide with many years of sea kayaking, canoeing, sailing and mountaineering in many of the worlds wildest places. A Fellow of The Royal Geographical Society and a Master Educator of Leave No Trace, I am committed to the role of tourism in sustainable futures for communities and wildlife in the places I work. A qualified wildlife guide I have more than a passing interest in the traditional uses of plants and other natural resources. Expedition sea kayaked in many varied locations from Antarctic Peninsula, Greenland, Baffin Island, Norway, Sweden, Madagascar, New Zealand, West and East coast USA as well as extensively in my home waters of Scotland. I am a BCU Level 4 Sea Coach and NZ Boatmaster. I am particularly interested in increasing marine wildlife knowledge with recreational sailors and sea kayakers. Myles
Robin Ruddock

Born in Carlow, Robin spent his childhood summers swimming and snorkeling in the sea and playing on the beaches in Co. Wexford. He is a qualified teacher of Physical Education with Biological Science and has spent many summers wild camping and exploring the coastline and islands of Ireland.

Robin has over 30 years experience of teaching sea kayaking, sailing and environmental education.

Recently he has spent time with his family sailing north to the Inner Hebrides in an open fishing drontheim and in his classic yacht, the ‘Wild Goose’.

His interests lie in beachcombing, maritime heritage, traditional music, Irish and Inuit culture, Celtic Christianity and in the study of cetaceans (whales and dolphins) and marine conservation.

Contact details:

Dave ThompsonDuring his first 20 years David lived across the Tees, Tyne, and Wear – the 3 great rivers of the north east of England. Earliest outdoor interests included hill walking, rock climbing, wilderness camping,botanising and bird watching.Boating interests began on Cumbrian lakes and rivers, paddling canoes and small dinghy sailing.Since moving to Northern Ireland in 1993 to work for the National Trust on Strangford Lough, David’s other boating activity gets him up close with wildlife for seal research and seabird surveys and taking wildlife tours.On the high seas David has sailed Irish and Scottish waters, with three expeditions into the Arctic Ocean. As a member of the Causeway Coast Maritime Heritage Group he took part in rowing around Ireland in the ‘Colmcille’ curragh and shared in its ventures across the Bay of Biscay from Finisterre to the Pais Basque.Contact details: clip_image002[7]
Dr Claire EatockI currently run the commercial marine consultancy attached to the Sea Mammal Research Unit based in St Andrews and have been working in the marine arena for the last 25 years. Exploring rock pools on the beach soon led to jumping in the sea at any opportunity in any way possible and over the years I have managed to gain professional qualifications in Kayaking, Coasteering, Powerboating, Sailing, Diving and Wildlife watching. Seeing the amazing wildlife under, in and on top of the sea is fantastic and I feel privileged to work in the marine field. My experience has led me to running a Marine Science degree down in Cornwall, consulting on coasteering and kayaking wildlife protocols and leading many expeditions by seakayak. I’ve been fortunate to work in many places across the world from New Zealand to Patagonia and never cease to be amazed by what’s out there in our oceans. I am keen to help educate as many people as possible in how to get the best out of the marine world so that all the wonders that we enjoy will still be here in the generations to come.

SMRU Marine website:

Rachael Plunkett

I work as a Project Scientist at SMRU Marine which is a leading marine mammal consultancy and research company based in St Andrews. I have a BSc Hons in Marine Biology from the University of Aberdeen and an MRes in Marine Mammal Science from St Andrews University. My main interests focus on the responses of marine mammals to human disturbance.

I previously worked at the University of Aberdeen’s Lighthouse Field Station as a research assistant on their long-term bottlenose dolphin photo-identification project where I developed my vessel-based marine mammal observation skills and gained extensive experience in cetacean photo-ID work. I have also worked in New Zealand where I was a field assistant on a PhD project investigating the effects of commercial tourism activities on bottlenose and common dolphin populations in the East Coast Bay of Plenty. Here I increased my boat handling skills and conducted vessel surveys in close proximity to marine mammals. From this work I have seen first-hand the detrimental effects that vessels can have on marine mammals and how unregulated tourism can disturb marine wildlife. This experience has inspired me to get involved in educating and encouraging others to participate in responsible wildlife-watching through responsible vessel handling.

SMRU Marine website:

Conor Ryan

Conor is the Sightings and Strandings Officer for the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust and lives in Tobermory, Isle of Mull. He is a research associate on the RV Song of the Whale team and previously worked as Science Officer for the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group. Conor has a degree in zoology and a PhD on the feeding ecology of baleen whales. He has conducted research from whale-watching boats in Ireland, the UK and Cape Verde. His interests include whale-watching, surfing, sea-kayaking, and free-diving.

Email: Conor Ryan


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NOTE: Although we try to ensure this information is as accurate as possible, WiSe cannot be held responsible for its accuracy or maintaining people’s details if we’re not advised of their changed information. The comments provided for each operator do not necessarily reflect the opinions of WiSe.