MMOA Executive Committee
The MMOA Executive Committee works to represent the Association's members. Under the clear mandate of the MMOA membership, the committee will form policy true to the stated aims and conduct day-to-day affairs. The MMOA Executive Committee is made up of the following experienced MMOs: Ashleigh Kitchiner, Carolyn Barton (Stone), Claudia Petta, Mike Ambler, Patrick Lyne, Neil Niru Dorrian, Denis Kovshov, Justin Judge, John Keth Faeldonia, Ana Carolina de Muzio and Renata Kowalik. Current Committee Members
Ashleigh Kitchiner (Chair)
Ashleigh is a passionate marine biologist and environmental advocate. She is educated formally with a BSc. (Hons) Biology and MRes Marine Mammal Genetics from the University of Chester, UK. She conducted research utilising stranding data to compile population genetics of long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas) across the UK. She has been fortunate enough to work in the energy, NGO and tourism sectors, working offshore in various roles. Ashleigh is passionate about onboarding environmental advocates and has developed and delivered webinars, conferences and, training courses at all levels.
She now works as a consultant and her main areas of expertise are marine mammal ecology, policy and legislation, impact assessments and acoustics. Ashleigh is a commercially-minded research-driven individual and would like to bring her experience to the Marine Mammal Observer Association (MMOA) executive committee to create a network of empowered Marine Mammal Observers (MMOs) and professionals internationally.
Carolyn Barton (Stone) (Vice-Chair)
Following a PhD on barnacles, Carolyn spent 5 years with the JNCC's Seabirds at Sea Team but has spent the last 25+ years working in MMO-related areas.
She has substantial experience working as an MMO covering seismic surveys, drilling, dredging and pile-driving operations. She has been an accredited MMO trainer since 1996 and has trained over 3000 MMOs. Carolyn has also been involved in the development of mitigation measures and data recording protocols. She has created and analysed JNCC's database of MMO data from UK waters, including analysis of a 25-year dataset to examine the effects of geophysical surveys on marine mammals and compliance with the JNCC guidelines.
Carolyn recognises the importance of maintaining professional standards and is pleased to have served on the MMOA committee since 2007.
Claudia Petta (Secretary)
Claudia is a Vet and a highlymotivated professional Environmental Advisor and Marine Mammal Specialist. Passionate about the ocean and its conservation, she is also a passionate environmental advocate with 4 years´experience in marine mammal behavioural research using theodolite in Brazilian coast, and over 17 years´ experience in marine mammal fieldwork & mitigation, with extensive experience working as a Lead MMO & PAM Operator in Brazil, UAE, UK and Ireland.
Her skills also include extensive experience in developing and delivering environmental trainings and lectures for graduate students and offshore crew, and some experience with marine mammal strandings, including rescue and rehabilitation. She has also recently attended the BDMLR Marine Mammal Rescue Course.
Claudia is highly committed to improving standards of mitigation, defending the importance of continued professional development. She is currently an Associate Member of IEMA and is studing to become a Practitioner, stepping forward on her path to chartership.
Mike Ambler (Treasurer)
Mike completed an undergraduate degree in Aquatic Biology from the University of Aberystwyth and then went on to gain an M.Sc. in Applied Hydrobiology from the University of Cardiff.
After a spell as a biologist with the Environment Agency Wales, Mike trained to become a teacher and was employed as a secondary school science teacher for almost a decade, before moving into the offshore consultancy business in 2010. Mike is now an experienced Marine Mammal Observer, PAM Operator and Environmental Scientist and has undertaken many offshore projects around Africa and Europe.
Mike has conducted marine mammal surveys for MARINElife in the Bay of Biscay, and devotes a lot of his onshore spare time to conservation work with the Wildlife Trusts. Mike has been a full member of the Marine Mammal Observer Association for the past five years and joined the Executive Committee in 2016.
Patrick Lyne has worked in mitigation for 11 years and been involved with the MMOA committee for seven years. Patrick is committed to improving standards of mitigation at a regulatory and MMO (and PAM) level. Industry contraction has affected everyone and perhaps the standards in mitigation more so. However Patrick hopes things will change and would like to see a shutdown employed in all mitigation procedures where an injurious level of sound is used.
He would also like to see experience as part of requirements in future work, such that one MMO and PAM operator on the mitigation team has some credible expertise.
Neil Niru Dorrian
Niru is a Senior Offshore Ecological Coordinator and Marine Mammal Biologist. He is a Fellow and Chartered Marine Scientist through the IMarEST, a Chartered Scientist through the Science Council, and a certified Environmental Clerk of Works. With over 18 years´ experience over multiple international projects specialising in marine mammal and protected species fieldwork, environmental mitigation & monitoring, permitting, EIA, project management, advisory services, conservation, animal rescue, and pathology.
He is also a Co-Founding Director at Whalefish, an international non-profit marine conservation organisation, and Co-Chair of the IMarEST Marine Mammal Special Interest Group. In 2018, Niru received the IMarEST Outstanding Contribution Award – Marine Ambassador, recognising his work as an individual who has made a significant contribution to advocacy, communication, outreach, policy, and public service in the marine sector.
Niru is passionate about driving positive and progressive changes in environmental sectors while maintaining professional standards and improving science communication.
Denis is a skilled marine environmental consultant experienced in research and protected species mitigation and environmental sampling. Having worked extensively investigating the distribution and abundance of the IUCN Gray whale population in the shallow waters of Sakhalin Island with Shell and Exxon since 2008, he then moved on to work in the United Arab Emirates with ADNOC since 2019.
He is familiar with behavioral responses and veterinary examination being involved in various projects. He has accrued over 10 years of work experience undertaking a variety of marine environmental surveys and advisory projects for the offshore sectors.
He specialises in Marine Mammal Surveying for Baseline and Environmental Impact Assessments, advisory services, conservation outreach, crew briefing and operational standards.
Justin works as a Discipline Lead and Subject Matter Expert on Marine Mammals and Sea Turtles, Senior Marine Mammal Observer and Board Member for several NGOs. He has strong interests in functional ecology, conservation biology, conservation management, marine mitigation and MPAs. Justin completed his PhD in marine food web dynamics in 2020 and actively seeks to apply his findings across many different trophic levels in marine systems. Justin's expertise lies in investigating the effects of anthropogenic and natural perturbations in ecosystems as well as providing associated mitigation services.
Regarding the latter, Justin has worked as a Marine Mammal Observer for 8 years and has been involved in numerous domestic and international projects.
He previously worked on implementing Marine Protected Area management plans with stakeholders in Ireland, was involved in many national seabird tracking projects and is an active Marine Mammal Medic volunteer.
John Keth Faeldonia
John is an Environmental Professional with over 10 years of combined industry experience in international and local scopes. Delivered roles in the capacity of Environmental Consultant/Advisor in multiple industry projects focusing on compliance monitoring and mitigation for biodiversity (species of concern) in support to geophysical survey operations (offshore, onshore, TZ) and coastal/marine construction projects in the Gulf of Mexico, UAE, KSA, and The Philippines.
He is a Licensed Professional Educator of biological sciences, and a strong advocate of the ridge-to-reef approach to the management and conservation of living natural resources. He is knowledgeable and possesses practical experience in environmental management, environmental education and habitat restoration initiatives.
In parallel to his MMO/PSO and consultancy roles, he is initiating and managing reforestation/restoration projects in his country, while advancing his Professional Master specializing in the establishment and management of Marine Protected Areas within the Coral Triangle.
Ana Carolina De Muzio
Ana is an experienced field Biologist and a skilled, motivated professional Environmental Advisor with extensive work experience undertaking various marine environmental surveys and advisory projects for the offshore O&G, coastal renewables, ocean clean-up projects and the maritime construction sectors.
She has years of experience in marine mammal fieldwork, including mitigation and monitoring of marine megafauna through consulting in numerous projects internationally (Azores, Canary Islands, Middle East, UK, Europe, Oceania, North and South America), gaining valuable experience working in marine protected areas and a UNESCO marine biosphere reserve.
Ana is a passionate environmental advocate, highly committed to professional standards and professional development, being an associate member of IEMA.
Renata is a marine, freshwater and transition zone ecologist with a BSc in Environmental Science, MSc in Ecology, and PhD in Freshwater Ecology (Cardiff University). Experienced in field data collection, analysis, and report preparation.
Renata has been involved in a variety of environmental, conservation and research projects spanning 25 years including marine and freshwater habitats covering benthic, coastal, estuarine and offshore environments. Projects include highly sensitive productive and migratory species and habitats e.g. rare brittlestar beds, endangered European eel Anguilla Anguilla, Sakhalin Island gray whale Eschrichtius robustus benthic feeding areas and southern Greenland requiring stringent mitigation measures.
In addition, Renata has experience managing teams of conservation ecologists (Zoological Society of London, London Wildlife Trust and Seismic Contractors) and leading on projects with Marine Fauna Observers, presently working as Senior Environmental Advisor for ADNOC in Abu Dhabi. Renata has been a member of the MMOA since 2016.
We would also like to thank everyone else who has contributed valuable assistance and advice in the development of the MMOA, namely Ashley Noteworthy, Heather Fowle, Sara Bissett, Gary Robinson, Jacklyn Barrs, Sarah Barry, Craig Bloomer, Wanda Bodnar, Zoe Crutchfield, Monica Arancibia Colgain, Sarah Dolman, Ruth Esteban, Aoife Foley, Alison Gill, Michael Hill, Phil Johnston, Claire Lacey, Gareth MacGlennon, Enda McKeogh, Simon Mustoe, Peter Nilsson, Ed Oliver, Ursula Pena, Chris Pierpoint, Frances Robertson, Juliet Shrimpton, Mark Simmonds, Heather Tabisola, Michael Unwin, Els Vermeulen, Juliet Vines, Caroline Weir, Richard Woodcock, Jon Kenny and Diana Antochiw. We would also like to thank and acknowledge the advice provided for our position statements by David Hannay, Roberto Racca, Paul Shone and Peter Ward.