October 10, 2020
9:45 am PDT
Throughout the waters of Malaysia, the MareCet Research Organization studies and protects marine mammals and their environment. MareCet is Malaysia’s first and only nonprofit organization dedicated to dolphin, dugong, and whale conservation. Their research is essential to establishing marine protected areas and local policy aimed at preserving these threatened species. By increasing scientific knowledge of marine mammal behavior, creating educational outreach programs for local communities, and raising awareness about the threats they face, MareCet is protecting these marine mammals by helping reduce the human impact on them, their prey, and their habitat.
Dr. Louisa Ponnampalam
Dr. Louisa Ponnampalam is the Executive Director and Co-founder of The MareCet Research Organization. One of her main goals is to raise the profile of marine mammals in Malaysia, and to build and inspire local research and conservation capacity for these animals and their fragile marine environment. She also trains and mentors young conservationists in Malaysia to follow in her footsteps. In 2014, Louisa was awarded the Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation, the first Malaysian to ever receive this prestigious international award, as well as the National Youth Premier Award from the Malaysian government. She is also a member of the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s Cetacean and Sirenia Specialist Groups.
Langkawi Dolphin Research Project Leader
Sandra Teoh is the project leader of Langkawi Dolphin Research at The MareCet Research Organization. Her passion for marine mammals began in early childhood, when she spotted a dolphin while on a ferry to Penang Island, her hometown. She is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her thesis focusing on the social structure of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins. Sandra is also a WCN scholar, having received the Steven K. Beckendorf Scholarship for Wildlife Conservation in 2020, and earned the Future Conservationist Award in 2016. Sandra hopes to inspire other young women to pursue careers in science and conservation.
Photography credit: Sandra Teoh