WASHINGTON, DC -- Today, Oceana announced that Asha de Vos, a pioneering Sri Lankan marine biologist, has joined the organization as a senior advisor.
de Vos is the first and only Sri Lankan to earn a Ph.D. in marine-mammal-related research and has dedicated her studies to the Northern Indian Ocean blue whales found off the coast of Sri Lanka. As a senior advisor, de Vos will lend her background studying blue whales, marine expertise and research experience to help guide Oceana’s global campaigns to protect and restore the oceans.
“I have long admired Oceana’s ability to win policy victories for the oceans,” said de Vos. “I’m thrilled to join this organization, which has the proven experience and ability to help protect marine wildlife, including the blue whales I have studied for so long.”
de Vos identified that the blue whales found off the Sri Lankan coast – dubbed the “unorthodox whales” – are non-migratory after witnessing them feeding in the country’s warm tropical waters. Blue whales typically migrate to cold water feeding areas from the warm water regions they use for breeding and calving. The Northern Indian Ocean blue whales remain year-round in Sri Lankan waters, primarily in a region that overlaps the country’s shipping lane – one of the busiest marine shipping routes in the world. After her discovery, de Vos dedicated her post-doctoral research at the University of California, Santa Cruz’s Long Marine Laboratory to finding science-based solutions for mitigating ship-strike which she is now using to formulate the policy recommendations necessary to protect the unorthodox whales from the threats they face.
“Oceana campaigns for concrete policies that will protect oceans and help restore abundance to the seas. Since 2001, this model has led to more than 100 policy victories and protection for more than a million square miles of ocean,” Oceana CEO Andy Sharpless said. “Oceana’s campaigns are driven by science, and we rely on brilliant marine scientists like Asha de Vos to inform our advocacy. Asha’s commitment to the protection of oceans and marine life is evident from her groundbreaking research and her push for policy change in Sri Lanka, and we are incredibly fortunate to have her on our team.”
de Vos is a global voice for marine conservation and was recently named a 2016 National Geographic Emerging Explorer. She is also a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, a Duke University Global Fellow in Marine Conservation, a TED Senior Fellow and a Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation. As the leading expert on the Northern Indian Ocean blue whale, de Vos’ research on the whales and the threats they face has been featured internationally by BBC, the New York Times, New Scientist and CNN.