Asha de Vos has committed her life’s work to saving a subspecies of blue whales that breed, feed and live in the northern Indian ocean. She calls them “the Unorthodox Whales” for the many different characteristics they have from blue whales, such as their feeding habits in warmer climates, they are about 1.5 foot shorter than other pygmy blue whales, and they don’t necessarily migrate long ranges for breeding.
She is the first and only Sri Lankan to have a Ph.D. in marine-mammal research. Due to lack of Marine Biology programs in Sri Lanka, she received her undergraduate degree, with honors, in Marine and Environmental Biology at the University of St. Andrews, UK, her graduate degree in Integrative Biosciences at the University of Oxford, UK, and finally her Ph.D. at the University of Western Australia.
Celebrated for her contributions to these magnificent marine animals, Asha is also a Senior TED Fellow and her work has been featured in The New York Times, CNN, BBC, Channel 7 Australia, and National Geographic online. Because of her work, the Sri Lankan blue whales have been added to the list of species in urgent need of conservation research by the International Whaling Commission.
“To me it was like, Sri Lanka is an island, why is no one else a marine biologist? That’s the thing that’s baffled me for so long. How come nobody has ever considered this pathway? I’m not saying it’s easy, but I’m saying that it’s possible.” – Asha de Vos, National Geographic interview
Asha continues her research and is an advocate for ocean education and marine life. She has inspired many others to follow their passion and paved the way for other young South Asians to consider marine mammal research.