Meet Shelly Selivanov, the QENTOL, YEN / W̱SÁNEĆ Marine Guardians’ new SRKW Marine Biologist

Learn more about Shelly and the work she’ll be doing with the Marine Guardians to help save the KELL̵OLEMEĆEN. Click play to view the short video, or read the transcript below.

Interviewer: Can you tell us a bit about who you are and where you’re from?

My name is Shelly Selivanov and I was born in Israel, but at a young age my family moved to Ontario where I lived in Anishinaabe territory till I was about 18 years old. And since I was little, I’ve always loved the ocean and always loved whales in particular, and killer whales in particular too. So I loved to learn as much as I could about the ocean by diving, by snorkeling, by reading, by watching documentaries, and just really getting hands-on to discover as much as I could about the ocean, and really wanting to be closer to it.

Interviewer: Can you share with us some of the background & experience you bring to this position?

So some of the background and experience that I bring into this position, so as I mentioned, I’ve always loved the ocean, but it was a little bit hard in Ontario to study marine biology and to really be so close to the ocean and learn from it. So, when I was in high school, I decided I would come out to British Columbia to study marine biology at UVIC. And so I did my undergraduate degree in marine biology and geography at the University of Victoria. And then I continued on doing my masters as well at UVIC in the marine protected areas research group. And as part of that, I was able to go to Thailand to conduct my research on sustainable island tourism. And I also was able to attend the International Marine Conservation Congress in Malaysia and volunteer as well at a turtle conservations center in Malaysia as well, where I was able to help out with their beach monitoring programs, also working with their coral reef surveys as well. So really just getting a hands on opportunity to help out with their coral reef rehabilitation program and their turtle conservation as well. But outside of that, I also had the opportunity to work with the Gulf Violence National Park Reserve, the Shaw Center for the Salish Sea, the University of Victoria and Peninsula Streams and Shorelines, where I was able to produce educational programs on salmon life cycles, on marine education and conservation. Then also help out with various forms of data collection and monitoring as well.

Interviewer: What kind of work will you be doing?

So my job title is the Southern Resident Killer Whale Marine Biologist. And some of the work that I will be doing is to help out with, uh, establishing the monitoring procedures that we’ll be taking, so the data that we’ll be collecting and how to go about collecting it as well. Working closely with the data analyst, the Southern resident Killer Whale Manager, as well as the Marine guardians as well, to really try to integrate indigenous knowledge and traditional knowledge with the Western science as well to create a more holistic approach to conserving the KELȽOLEMEĆEN.

Interviewer: What kind of impact do you hope to have during your time with the Marine Guardians?

Some of the impacts that I hope to have with my time with the marine guardians is to really integrate my passion and my experiences into this role. So I’ve always been passionate about the oceans and protecting it, but also sharing the message. So I do have quite a lot of experience with education as well, but really being able to integrate my education from that has taken me over the world and integrate that here with the traditional knowledge and the local knowledge as well to protect, marine biodiversity and the Salish Sea to better, better understand it and to really create more integration across different organizations and have more of a presence as well. So I’m really excited to integrate all of that together, all my passions and knowledge with the marine guardians.

Interviewer: What do you like to do when you’re not at work?

While I’m not at work, I love to explore Vancouver Island. So I love to go camping, hiking with my dog and my family, but then also exploring, uh, the unique biodiversity here, by activities like get me out on the water. So I’ve tried some sailing, going scuba diving, as well as taking up my Santa Paddleboard too.

Interviewer: Is there anything else you’d like the community to know?

So I’m very excited about this opportunity and I feel very honored to be part of the Marine Guardians and to be able to learn from this team and to be part of the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council to really have more of a presence on the water with the marine guardians and to give the knowledge and the space for the percentage peoples who are the original caretakers of these waters. So I feel incredibly privileged to have the opportunity to assist in this amazing project, and I’m excited to continue sharing the progress of our project and to continue working together as part of the community.

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