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The Dolphin Research Institute is based at Hastings, on the shores of Western Port in Victoria, Australia. DRI’s research is focused primarily in the south-eastern region of Victoria, especially Port Phillip, Western Port and the Gippsland Lakes.

The Institute has over 30 years of dolphin research – we know our resident dolphins through fin identification and regular surveys; our data-base is extensive and ever-expanding! We also know that our supporters feel proud of our work. It is a tangible way for them to be able to say “Yes, I’m helping these dolphins now, and for their future.”

DRI began in the late 1980’s by people who were concerned about local dolphins and their marine environment. The Institute has grown in to the well-managed, sustainable, not-for-profit conservation organisation that is the ‘go-to’ for just about all-things dolphin related in Victoria. The Dolphin Research Institute has been caring for our bays since 1991 – we are proud that we are now also pioneering the federally-funded National Dolphin Health Project.

We work in three areas: Research – for Conservation; Education – for the next generation and Environmental Leadership – for the community.

DRI is a registered charity and is self-funded from the community, foundations, the corporate sector and government grants. Our original concerns and passions about dolphins remain. We now spread our work further through community involvement with citizen science projects and education programs, including our award-winning ‘i sea, i care’ Ambassador program in primary schools. We know that all ‘drains lead to the sea’ – catchment management, pollution control and public education are as important as picking up litter on the beach for the health of our waterways and ultimately, dolphins.

The Institute has received many awards including the prestigious Banksia Environment Foundation national award in the “Marine & Coastal Water” category in 1997, the “Victorian Coastal Awards of Excellence” Species Protection category in 2002 and the “Community Partnerships” category in 2013, 2018 Acknowledgment of Excellence Award from the Mornington Peninsula Shire and the 2020 Victorian Environmental Education Award.

Meet Our Team


BSc; MSc; Dip.Ed; MFIA.

Executive Director (Also a Board Director)
Jeff’s diverse background in Marine Biology, Education and Business have prepared him well for his current role as the Institute’s Executive Director. He has presented many papers, including keynote addresses, at scientific and education conferences and is regularly seen in the media. Jeff served on the national executive of the Marine Education Society of Australasia and is a member of the Fundraising Institute of Australia. He was a founding Director of the Western Port UNESCO Biosphere and was a member of Victoria's Central Coastal Board for 12 years.He was a founding Board Member of the Dolphin Research Institute in 1991 and became a full-time Director in 1997, after many years of voluntary and part-time contributions. Jeff received an Order of Australia Medal in the 2019 Australia Day Awards for his lifetime contribution to Marine Conservation.


Relationship Manager Since joining the Dolphin Research Institute in 2011, Jenny has become an invaluable member of the team. Her role as Relationships Manager encompasses Administration, Partnerships, Fundraising and Managing events and volunteers. Jenny has gained Certificates in Fundraising whilst working at DRI. From these she has built on her already considerable skills in administration, management and public relations.


BSc (Monash) Zoology, Ecology and Conservation Biology.

Education Manager Ellie brings a love for our local marine environment and a passion for marine education. She brings experience in environmental education, including program development and delivery. She also is involved with the Great Victorian Fish Count and snorkel instructor.


AMSA Category 1 Coxswain certification

Research Officer
David Donnelly is a marine researcher with extensive experience in a range of scientific disciplines. His field experience ranges from fine scale monitoring of the intertidal zone to open ocean surveys. David’s area of expertise lies in marine mammal research where he has been involved in numerous research projects using a diverse range of methods from all field research platforms (aerial, vessel and land based as well as underwater). Field surveys have included visual and acoustic methods as well as close approach vessel work for the purpose of photo ID, tagging (D-Tag and satellite tag) blow sampling and biopsy sampling. Over the course of his 21 years of field experience, David has worked at a variety of field locations, including all around Australia, the South Pacific, New Zealand, the sub-Antarctic and Antarctic.

David holds a current AMSA Category 1 Coxswain certification and has logged over 900 sea days on large and small vessels working with universities, Australian State and Federal government, New Zealand’s Department of Conservation, the military, NGOs, production companies, tourism and the oil and gas industry. As a small vessel operator he has accumulated over 2,500 logged hours of close approach time working with 12 large and small cetacean species without incident. Target species have included humpback whales, southern right whales, killer whales, beaked whales, sperm whales, blue whales plus a range of coastal dolphin species.


BSc (Applied Biology) 1980, RMIT University

Honorary Associate
Bruce has coordinated and managed education programs in the School of Biological Sciences at Monash University since 1980 – retiring at the end of 2020 after 40 years of service. Bruce has also had a long history of volunteer support to DRI since it was established. Since retiring, Bruce has continued his long association with both Monash University and DRI with an ‘Honorary Associate’ position in both organisations and for DRI has taken on the role of coordinating DRI’s Intern and Volunteer program.


BAppSc(Hons) Marine and Biological Sciences; GradDipTeach(Primary)

Education Officer
Jacqui works with DRI as an Education Officer. Her extensive work in outdoor education and as a Scuba Instructor in Australia and overseas led to her love of all thing’s marine conservation and her undertaking of Undergraduate and Honours Degrees in Applied Science, (Marine & Biological), and a Graduate Diploma for Teaching (Primary). Jacqui is also an active volunteer and community member, regularly collaborating with a range of organisations and community volunteers on marine conservation campaigns and projects including training snorkelers and divers to conduct native and invasive species surveys and removals, and marine debris surveys and clean ups.

Meet Our Board


GradCert BA (Entrepreneurship and Business Administration, Swinburne); MAICD, HonMem PDL.

Non-Executive Director - Acting Chair
Marie was a registered diver with the BSAC (British Sub-Aqua Club). She has always been fascinated by marine life. Her corporate experience has been in the Health Profession since 1994, she was CEO from 2009 – 2016. Her primary skillset combines Governance, Compliance and Risk. She regards culture and diversity as strong attributes for any Board of Directors. She is excited by new innovations and highly values respectfulness at Board, Management and Staff level. She is currently a director of Kooweerup Regional Health Service and a director of the Victorian Pharmacy Authority.


Non-Executive Director
BSc (Zoology), BA (Psychology)
Rebecca has broad experience in organisational and behavioural change management, communications, project delivery, and governance across financial services and the private sector, and more recently, state government portfolios.
With a science education and strong interest in the environment, Rebecca is involved in community initiatives to reduce waste and protect local bay areas. She is also passionate about educating children about the environment, the positive change we can all make and embedding environmental values, education programs and sustainable initiatives into our schools. Rebecca grew up on the Mornington Peninsula and continues to enjoy living bayside, running, cycling, and swimming.


Non-Executive Director
Joel is a social entrepreneur and passionate ocean-lover. Growing up in the Mornington Peninsula and Bayside regions, he has developed a deep connection to Westernport and Port Phillip bays. Joel brings his professional skill from the corporate software and technology worlds, along with his experiences and education in small, medium and large enterprises. He is also the founder and managing director of Big Little Brush, a social enterprise based on the Mornington Peninsula focussed on creating a healthy and sustainable future for all Australians.


Non-Executive Director
BSc (Hons); PhD Marine Ecology (Melbourne)
Jo is currently Principal Policy Analyst, Victorian Fisheries Authority. She has held diverse and significant roles in the areas of marine and coastal environmental assessment, management, policy and legislation reform dating back to 1993 as a Senior Marine Ecologist with the EPA. Jo is an experienced science communicator and author of numerous publications and reports. She is a patrolling lifesaver at the Williamstown Swimming and Lifesaving Club.


Non-Executive Director
B EnvSci (Deakin); M. Envi & Sust (Monash)
Rebecca has a multi- disciplinary approach to environmental change. Through experience in the private sector focusing on floodplain management in rural Victoria, to international sustainability change as a Humanitarian Affairs Green Ambassador in Thailand. Rebecca is passionate about how the natural system of waterways will transform with the effects of global warming and ultimately impact the animals living in it. Rebecca is a driver of change in her local community on the Mornington Peninsula, a dedicated volunteer with the shorebird research group.


The Dolphin Research Institute is constituted as a company limited by guarantee and registered with the Australian Charities and Not for profit Commission as a “medium charity”.  The Institute’s constitution prevents it from paying dividends  to members. ABN – 73 097 317 112

The Dolphin Research Institute Ltd Environment Fund is listed on the Register of Environmental Organisations under item 6.1.1 if subsection 30.55(1) of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997. Donations of $2.00 or more are tax deductible.

The Institute’s Annual Reports, audited accounts and constitution are available for download from our Annual Reports page.