Divers' Weekend Speakers


Underwater Content Creating: "From aspiring creators, to published professionals"

Olivia Devenish Olivia Devenish

Olivia Devenish

Olivia Devenish is an avid scuba diver, freediver and unapologetic ocean nerd. Graduating from Art school as a 3D animator and filmmaker, she has spent the last 15 years as a freelance artist. Working on projects for Museums, Science Centers and short films, most of her work has centered around the environment and our natural world. Recently, Olivia set her sights on a lifelong dream to plunge into the emerald-green waters of Canada's West Coast to film, explore and document all of the amazing creatures, environments and adventures along the way.

Chris Samson

Although originally from Nova Scotia, Chris moved to British Columbia at the ripe young age of two weeks old. Being the son of a sailor, Chris spent his youth cruising the Pacific Northwest of British Columbia and Washington on his father's boat where he became fascinated by the mystical waters of the Salish Sea. He learned to understand, cherish and respect the cold waters and all of its aquatic inhabitants. Later on in life, skateboarding, followed by boxing, took over Chris's life. After dealing with a barrage of injuries, Chris decided to take up freediving and breathhold harvesting as it was a low-impact activity that's good for both the mind and soul. Since 2018, Chris has spent virtually all of his spare time in the ocean diving up and down the coast of our beautiful province and abroad. You can catch some of his adventures on his YouTube channel, @PNWSamson.

Chris Samson Chris Samson
Marcelo Johan Ogata Marcelo Johan Ogata

Marcelo Johan Ogata

Marcelo Johan Ogata is a world traveler, commercial diver and underwater filmmaker. Based on Vancouver Island, Canada, he has lived on six different continents and traveled to over 40 countries, always seeking out new experiences with his camera gear.

Marcelo's love and obsession for scuba diving began in 2008, and he quickly became an avid diver, exploring some of the world's most beautiful and remote dive sites. His passion for the underwater world has taken him from the coral reefs of South East Asia to the cold water regions of the Pacific Northwest.

As a self-taught underwater filmmaker and drone pilot, Marcelo has been able to capture and share his experiences and awareness of different ecosystems both above and underwater. His filmmaking specialty is macro organisms and nocturnal behaviour, capturing the beauty and complexity of the natural world in a unique and captivating way.

Marcelo's work has been recognized among other inspiring creators, and he is proud that his work has been used for conservation efforts. It is his hope that through his imagery, he can inspire others to protect and appreciate our planet.

But Marcelo's dreams and goals go beyond what he has already accomplished. In the future, he aspires to live on a sailboat and continue to explore by navigating where he can keep scuba diving at remote destinations, documenting the underwater world and promoting conservation.

Peter Mieras

Peter Mieras is an experienced underwater cameraman and DOP living on Vancouver Island, BC. Peter has worked on many TV documentaries as well as NGO and other productions. He specializes in natural history and animal behaviour. Because of his language skills (fluent in Dutch, German, French and of course English) he works with international as well as Canadian crews. Not only is he specialized in underwater filming, he is also and Transport Canada certified advanced drone pilot. In addition, with all this experience he also works as a fixer who does pre-production work ranging from location scouting to permits and other logistics.

He runs a small dive charter resort in Barkley Sound on Vancouver Island. Living in the middle of nature 365 days a year gives him a lot of opportunity to dive, observe and film animals in their natural habitat. Combined with courses on animal behaviour, participation in research projects and a network of experts he spends time with, he has become a great source of knowledge for many film crews and of course he uses this knowledge in his own film productions and production coordination for media productions. He produces rare and high quality 4K underwater (stock) footage. Because of his work with salmon restoration he created a special salmon stock footage channel

In the little spare time he has, Peter is a first responder with the BC Marine Mammal Response Network. In addition he is involved in many surveys supporting research and set up his own citizen science projects with the help of many researchers. He was also a lead author in an Elsevier science book on shark conservation. In 2021 he started a kelp reforestation experiment with Ocean Wise, the Bamfield Marine Science Centre and Canadian kelp Resources.

He was a winner in the David Suzuki Foundation "Ocean Stories" contest and was declared the 2013 "Ocean Hero" by the Shaw Ocean Discovery Center. He won the Tacoma Dive and Travel Expo video contest both in 2012 and 2013, and the San Diego Underwater Film Exhibition selected his videos many times for their annual screening.

Peter Mieras Peter Mieras


Community and Citizen Science around Átl’ka7tsem; Howe Sound

Isabelle Côté and Em Lim Isabelle Côté and Em Lim

Isabelle Côté

Isabelle Côté is a Distinguished Professor of Marine Ecology in the Department of Biological Sciences at Simon Fraser University. Her research interests in marine ecology and conservation are broad and currently focus on marine invasive species – measuring their ecological and economic impacts, predicting their spread and devising the best ways to control them. She is passionate about science communication, particularly relating to ocean discovery. In her down time, she SCUBA dives, swims in open water, and runs on forest trails. In January 2024, she rowed across the Atlantic with three other women marine biologists to raise funds for marine conservation. Check her out at tmel.wordpress.com and saltyscience.org.

Em Lim

Em Lim (they/them) is a PhD candidate in Dr. Isabelle Côté's lab at Simon Fraser University. Like many marine ecologists, they enjoy searching for unexpected links between organisms, which has led them to research the importance of fish and invertebrate pee as a fertilizer for seaweeds! Em loves diving for their research and also for fun, especially when they can take photos to post on iNaturalist. Their passion for public education and LGBTQ+ representation in STEM have fuelled their drive to communicate science broadly, and you can find them at em-lim.weebly.com.

Sheila Byers

Sheila Byers is a Registered Professional Biologist and marine biologist, President and Past-President, Vice President and current Director-at-Large of MLSS since 2007. She has been a member of Nature Vancouver and a Planning Committee member of the Marine Biology Section since 2002. Sheila is the Curatorial Assistant of the Marine Invertebrate Collection at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum, UBC.

Paige Smallman Paige Smallman

Paige Smallman

Paige is an aquarium biologist at the Vancouver Aquarium, responsible for animal care of local species, including rockfish. As a volunteer diver with the Marine Life Sanctuary Society, she often participates in Rockfish Monitoring and Lingcod Egg Mass Survey dives. Paige also loves to go for fun dives around BC, and her favourite site to explore is Kelvin Grove.

Andy Lamb

Andy was born (1947) and raised in Vancouver. He graduated from Templeton High School in 1965. In 1971, he graduated from UBC with a BSc in Zoology from Andy was employed by the Vancouver Aquarium from 1966 to 1974 as an aquarist/collector and from 1996 to 2005 as a school program co-ordinator. For the intervening 22 years, he was a fish culturist at DFO’s West Vancouver Laboratory. In 1989, he co-foundered the Marine Life Sanctuaries of British Columbia – on organization dedicated to the establishment of no take marine protected areas. As a SCUBA enthusiast (NAUI, 1967), he has completed 4,082logged dives, featuring detailed marine life documentation. This documentation has been organized in a digital data base managed and it is readily made available to environmental conservation groups. From 1975 to 1995, Andy created and taught a ten week Marine Life Identification course for SCUBA divers. He is a co-author of Marine Life of the Pacific Northwest (including a routinely updated and increasing online version) and Coastal Fishes of the Pacific Northwest (both with Harbour Publishing). In 2016, he co-authored a condensed version of the latter, A Field Guide to the Common Fishes of the Pacific Northwest, also by Harbour Publishing. In a 2013 paper in ZooKeys, Dr. Gary Williams honored him with the name Gersemia lambi for a newly described species of Pacific Northwest soft coral. In October, 2016, he was named the Naturalist of the Year, by the Western Society of Naturalists. In June, 2019, Andy received an Honorary Doctor of Education degree from the University of Victoria. He continues to supply popular articles for various publications including a past series in Northwest Dive News. He is actively involved with the Thetis Island elementary school (K to grade seven) via a marine aquarium, beach walks and in class instruction. Andy and his wife Virginia live on Thetis Island.

Ruth Simons Ruth Simons

Ruth Simons

Ruth Simons, Executive Director and President, Howe Sound Biosphere Region Initiative Society, Ruth has been advocating for a holistic comprehensive land and marine use plan for the region since 2012. Ruth has been the Coordinator of the Howe Sound Community Forums for the past 8 years and leading the Howe Sound Biosphere Region Initiative to successful designation by UNESCO as Canada's 19th Biosphere Region in 2021. A lifelong resident of the region, she is happiest in nature often seen either on the trails or the water.

Ellika Cairns

Ellika Cairns is the Project Director at the Átl’ka7tsem/Howe Sound Marine Stewardship Initiative (MSI). She has lived, studied, and recreated in/around Átl’ḵa7tsem/Howe Sound her entire life; she grew up in North Vancouver and now lives in Squamish. Ellika has over 5 years of experience working for local environmental non-profits with a marine / conservation focus, and spends the majority of her free time exploring our local mountains and coastlines.

Ellika Cairns Ellika Cairns
Douglas Swanston Douglas Swanston

Douglas Swanston

Douglas Swanston is a Marine Scientist working to conserve and restore marine habitat in the coastal waters of BC since  graduating from UBC in 1985. He operates NW Seacology providing clients with information on biota in the near shore environment. Since 2011 the study of spawning Pacific herring has become a focus and passion.  Assisting community organizations, various levels of government and professional associates Mr. Swanston works to enhance community knowledge of Pacific herring locally. His goal is to protect, restore and enhance local spawning populations of this important fish. Douglas will present his observations on Pacific herring spawning in False Creek at Fisherman's Wharf and other areas within Burrard Inlet and early involvement in the attempts to revitalize herring in Howe Sound. Interim results of the experimental relocation of herring eggs from False Creek to Coal Harbour in Burrard Inlet will also be presented.

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