Meet The Team

Brad Norman – Director and Lead scientist

Brad is the founder and Director of ECOCEAN. He studied a Bachelor of Science in marine biology at Murdoch University in Western Australia and earned both a Masters and PhD degree for his work on whale sharks. In addition to being awarded Murdoch’s Distinguished Alumni Award (Science), he is an Adjunct Research Fellow with the University of WA, and has close research ties with teh University of Queensland.

Some of his major achievements have included preparing the Species Report for the United Nations IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (2000) which resulted in the whale shark being assessed as ‘VULNERABLE’ and successfully nominating the whale shark for listing under Australian Legislation (EPBC Act) resulting in increased national protection for this species (2001).  He assisted in the successful nomination to restrict international trade in whale shark products via the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in 2002 – the first shark to be listed under this Convention and prepared UNEP ‘Best Practice’ whale shark ecotourism guidelines for the United Nations Environment Program (2007). In February 2010, ECOCEAN was part of an international meeting which initiated an MOU signed by over one hundred countries that are part of the United Nations Convention on Migratory Species to protect seven of the most vulnerable of migratory sharks (including the whale shark). In 2016, Brad co-authored the updated Species Report for the United Nations IUCN Red List of Threatened Species which resulted in teh conservation status of the whale shark being downgraded to ‘ENDANGERED’.

Brad and his team have won a host of awards for the innovative work with whale sharks: National Geographic Ocean Hero 2010; WA Science Awards Outreach Program of the Year 2009; National Geographic Emerging Explorer 2008 and the first Australian selected as a Laureate – ROLEX Awards for Enterprise 2006.


Samantha Reynolds – Research Scientist

Sam Profile

Samantha is a keen scuba diver and snorkeler, and in 2012 she went on holiday to Ningaloo Reef where she first swam with whale sharks and has been volunteering for ECOCEAN ever since. Samantha gained a Bachelor of Arts from The University of Queensland in 1998; completed her Bachelor of Science in Marine Science and Zoology degree at UQ in 2015; and was awarded First Class Honours for her study on whale sharks in 2016. She is looking forward to flexing her newly acquired skills and putting her passion for the marine environment and its inhabitants to good use in ECOCEAN’s future research programmes.


Heath Bentley – East Coast Liaison Manager

Heath joined ECOCEAN in April 2012 as the North West Liaison Manager. Heath comes to ECOCEAN with no science background but with 16 years in the tourism and hospitality industry. From his previous workplace at the Novotel Ningaloo in Exmouth, he took joy in hearing countless stories from resort guests about  their magical day in the water with the Ningaloo whale sharks. For Heath these stories push home the importance of the conservation of these sublime marine creatures, so generations to come can be blessed with the experience of swimming with whale sharks.

Although while in high school Heath did attend a Year 9 marine biology camp, he will be leaving the scientific side of ECOCEAN to others on the team. Heath’s efforts are concentrated on promoting the awareness of whale sharks to tourists from around the world visiting one of Australia’s premier destinations on the east coast of Australia.  Heath is a constant driver of ECOCEAN’s fundraising efforts and hopes his past experience will be able to help protect Stumpy and his friends.


Justin Palmer – Americas Liaison Manager

Justin has been proudly supporting ECOCEAN since late 2010. He first met Brad in Perth through a work conference, where Brad discussed how industry could collaborate to further whale shark research. Along with colleague Jenny Spark, they both offered their support to help secure much needed resources to progress ECOCEAN’s important work.  Thus began the start of the annual Oceans Alive fundraiser events.

Justin makes up for his lack of marine biology expertise by bringing several years of professional marketing communications and commercial expertise to ECOCEAN, and often considers himself the “ideas man”. He promotes ECOCEAN from his new home in Canada, and can often be found adorned in his favourite ECOCEAN t-shirt, “Shark Researcher”.

On a personal level, Justin has experienced the whale shark aggregation over two seasons and seen the beauty of Ningaloo Reef. Thanks to ECOCEAN and the cause, he has become increasingly passionate about the importance of marine life and its preservation – with many a pub conversation now centering on whale sharks!


Raphael Dib – Graphic Design / Web Manager

Raphael grew up on a small island in Brazil and moved to Western Australia on 2010. His passion for the Ocean made himself to dedicate his time working on projects of environmental and marine life preservation, producing digital content that helps to inform and aware the society about changes on the nature.


Paul Waghorn (Wags) – Film and Image Manager


Wags grew up in the wheat belt of Western Australia on a farm and worked in the mining industry for a few years before working in the dive industry in Cairns for 3.5 years. Eventually, he arrived in Exmouth on the Ningaloo Reef in 1995. In addition to being an SSI instructor, Wags works full-time in filming, editing, graphics, computers, websites, and e-commerce design. His underwater material is sought after on many local and overseas networks.


Helen Lumsden – Bookkeeper

Helen grew up in South Australia and moved to WA in 2001 and is currently studying a Bachelor of Commerce and building her own bookkeeping business, Lumsden Bookkeeping Services.

She has worked for three not-for-profit organisations in the past, The Royal Flying Doctor Services, Girl Guides WA (where she is now an Area Manager) and Western Australia’s foremost not-for-profit organisation The Conservation Council of WA. She brings these experiences and skills to the bookkeeping of ECOCEAN.


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