STAFF, VOLUNTEERS & RESEARCHERS

In 1986 Lela founded Panterra Educational and Cultural Programs and started her career as a marine naturalist. She has dedicated her life to teaching and mentoring. Because of an insatiable desire to seek the origins of life on earth, her passion as a wanderer and explorer has led to a career in designing educational programs in the Gulf Islands of Canada and the Sea of Cortez, Baja, Mexico.

In 2004, Lela retired, turning her business of 18 years into a non-profit organization. Her goal throughout her career has been to make a difference in the lives of the students she has come in contact with, turning them on to further learning, and instill in them the great importance and responsibility of being the future guardians of our planet.

Lela Sankeralli – Naturalist, Founder and Executive Director

In 1986 Lela founded Panterra Educational and Cultural Programs and started her career as a marine naturalist. She has dedicated her life to teaching and mentoring. Because of an insatiable desire to seek the origins of life on earth, her passion as a wanderer and explorer has led to a career in designing educational programs in the Gulf Islands of Canada and the Sea of Cortez, Baja, Mexico. In 2004, Lela retired, turning her business of 18 years into a non-profit organization. Her goal throughout her career has been to make a difference in the lives of the students she has come in contact with, turning them on to further learning, and instill in them the great importance and responsibility of being the future guardians of our planet.
Sharon enters her 15th season working with Panterra. Born in Sidney, BC she has spent many years exploring the local coastline, and has cycled and camped through most of the Gulf Islands. Sharon has sailed the Atlantic, from England to Barbados, hiked the Chilkoot Trail from Skagway to Dawson City, and hiked the Queen Charlotte Islands.

She is fascinated with the ethnobotany of the native peoples of the west coast, and is often found trying to convince the Panterra students to try the culinary cuisine of the different plants. 
Her latest achievement in Panterra is to assist in community gardens in the remote communities visited on our expeditions.

Sharon Neeves – Volunteer, Society President & Naturalist

Sharon enters her 15th season working with Panterra. Born in Sidney, BC she has spent many years exploring the local coastline, and has cycled and camped through most of the Gulf Islands. Sharon has sailed the Atlantic, from England to Barbados, hiked the Chilkoot Trail from Skagway to Dawson City, and hiked the Queen Charlotte Islands. She is fascinated with the ethnobotany of the native peoples of the west coast, and is often found trying to convince the Panterra students to try the culinary cuisine of the different plants. Her latest achievement in Panterra is to assist in community gardens in the remote communities visited on our expeditions.
Martin Espinosa has been working with Panterra as ships Captain for 16 years. He brings expertise and experience unsurpassed by any other Captain working in the Sea of Cortez. He has grown in his career working with Panterra and is highly respected by all who work with him. Over the years Martin has assisted his crew in advancing in their careers. Two past Panterra crew have gone on to become Captains of their own boat working in the day tourism industry with our sister company. Of all the men I have ever worked with I can honestly say I have never respected a field colleague more than Martin.

Martin Espinosa - Captain of the MV Adventure

Martin Espinosa has been working with Panterra as ships Captain for 16 years. He brings expertise and experience unsurpassed by any other Captain working in the Sea of Cortez. He has grown in his career working with Panterra and is highly respected by all who work with him. Over the years Martin has assisted his crew in advancing in their careers. Two past Panterra crew have gone on to become Captains of their own boat working in the day tourism industry with our sister company. Of all the men I have ever worked with I can honestly say I have never respected a field colleague more than Martin.
Alan has been associated to Panterra for many years. he recently joined our team as naturalist and crew. He brings to Panterra his passion, knowledge and experience working in his backyard, the Sea of Cortez.

This young man steals the hearts of our guests with the love and passion he has for the sea.

Alan Robles - naturalist

Alan has been associated to Panterra for many years. he recently joined our team as naturalist and crew. He brings to Panterra his passion, knowledge and experience working in his backyard, the Sea of Cortez. This young man steals the hearts of our guests with the love and passion he has for the sea.
Director and researcher of Whale Shark México, she is a Conservation Biologist, with a vision to promote and contribute to ocean conservation and sustainability. 
Over the past ten years she has built, with a group of colleagues, a whale shark network in the Gulf of California, and surrounding areas with the vision to promote regional conservation of the species. 
Dení has been working closely with the Mexican government in its program to manage and conserve the whale sharks in Mexican waters. They have been training the tourist companies of La Paz in order to create a sustainable whale shark tourist activity.
Dení grew up enjoying and loving the ocean and her passion has always been conservation. She believes that the conservation of whale sharks can help to promote the conservation of other endangered species and the ocean. As a scientist, she believes that knowledge is fundamental for conservation.

Dr. Dení Ramírez-Macías - Conservation biologist

Director and researcher of Whale Shark México, she is a Conservation Biologist, with a vision to promote and contribute to ocean conservation and sustainability. Over the past ten years she has built, with a group of colleagues, a whale shark network in the Gulf of California, and surrounding areas with the vision to promote regional conservation of the species. Dení has been working closely with the Mexican government in its program to manage and conserve the whale sharks in Mexican waters. They have been training the tourist companies of La Paz in order to create a sustainable whale shark tourist activity. Dení grew up enjoying and loving the ocean and her passion has always been conservation. She believes that the conservation of whale sharks can help to promote the conservation of other endangered species and the ocean. As a scientist, she believes that knowledge is fundamental for conservation.
Felipe Cuevas grew up as a fisherman on a little island called Isla Pardito, in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico.  Since 2006, Felipe and his father Palo have been involved with a sea turtle monitoring program, working with local non profit societies Groupos de Tortugas and NIPARAJA, researching species, population, and migration patterns of the turtles in their part of the world.  It is with great pleasure that Panterra has the opportunity to contribute and participate in the work of Felipe, Palo, Groupos de Tortugas and Niparaja  on our Journey to the Sea of Cortez Expeditions.

felipe cuevas - sea turtle conservationist

Felipe Cuevas grew up as a fisherman on a little island called Isla Pardito, in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico. Since 2006, Felipe and his father Palo have been involved with a sea turtle monitoring program, working with local non profit societies Groupos de Tortugas and NIPARAJA, researching species, population, and migration patterns of the turtles in their part of the world. It is with great pleasure that Panterra has the opportunity to contribute and participate in the work of Felipe, Palo, Groupos de Tortugas and Niparaja on our Journey to the Sea of Cortez Expeditions.
Krystil was born in Canada, but grew up in South Africa. As a child, she had aspirations of being an oceanographer, environmentalist, actress, marine biologist, model, doctor…and so the list goes on. Upon completion of high school, she returned to Canada to pursue her post-secondary education. She received a Bachelors of Science degree in biological sciences from the University of Alberta, and then continued on at the University of Calgary to obtain a Degree in Veterinary Medicine. This fall, she is set to return to South Africa to work as a small animal practitioner for 3 months, and in the new year, she will settle in Canada and pursue further veterinary work.

Krystil’s involvement with Panterra over the last 10 years not only reflects her passion for all animals, big and small, marine and terrestrial, but has also afforded her the opportunity to be involved with the bigger picture concept of wildlife conservation. Her heart is still in saving our oceans.

Dr. Krystil Jones – Veterinarian

Krystil was born in Canada, but grew up in South Africa. As a child, she had aspirations of being an oceanographer, environmentalist, actress, marine biologist, model, doctor…and so the list goes on. Upon completion of high school, she returned to Canada to pursue her post-secondary education. She received a Bachelors of Science degree in biological sciences from the University of Alberta, and then continued on at the University of Calgary to obtain a Degree in Veterinary Medicine. This fall, she is set to return to South Africa to work as a small animal practitioner for 3 months, and in the new year, she will settle in Canada and pursue further veterinary work. Krystil’s involvement with Panterra over the last 10 years not only reflects her passion for all animals, big and small, marine and terrestrial, but has also afforded her the opportunity to be involved with the bigger picture concept of wildlife conservation. Her heart is still in saving our oceans.

omar araizo - sea turtle conservationist

Jean-Paul was born and raised in rural northern Alberta and spent the majority of time in the outdoors. As a child you could always find him down by the river exploring with his dog or off building tree forts.

At the age of 17 Jean-Paul attended his first Panterra expedition. On this expedition he had a life changing encounter with a gray whale at Magdalena Bay. It was then that he fell in-love with the Baja and the Sea of Cortez.

Jean Paul has a passion for photography and most enjoys capturing nature in its beauty. In his free time Jean-Paul likes to play music and enjoys adventuring in the Rockies. Jean-Paul is currently studying carpentry at SAIT in Calgary and hopes to one day further his education in the field.

Jean Paul Blanchard – Volunteer, Construction Consultant & Amateur Photographer

Jean-Paul was born and raised in rural northern Alberta and spent the majority of time in the outdoors. As a child you could always find him down by the river exploring with his dog or off building tree forts. At the age of 17 Jean-Paul attended his first Panterra expedition. On this expedition he had a life changing encounter with a gray whale at Magdalena Bay. It was then that he fell in-love with the Baja and the Sea of Cortez. Jean Paul has a passion for photography and most enjoys capturing nature in its beauty. In his free time Jean-Paul likes to play music and enjoys adventuring in the Rockies. Jean-Paul is currently studying carpentry at SAIT in Calgary and hopes to one day further his education in the field.

Scott Rogers - conservation biologist

Samantha has been a Panterra kid for over 6 years and a volunteer for 3 years. She recently completed her grad 12 and is currently enrolled in college pursuing one of two passions, Performing Arts.

Her second passion is biology where she plans on pursuing a career in zoology/marine biology. Her interests includes that of saving seals, sea lions caught up in nets and other marine animals who need help.

As a junior naturalist Samantha enjoys sharing with Panterra students the knowledge of the natural history of the Baja she has learned over the many years of attending Panterra trips. She is a natural explorer of the sciences and arts.

Samantha Tinworth – Volunteer, Junior Naturalist

Samantha has been a Panterra kid for over 6 years and a volunteer for 3 years. She recently completed her grad 12 and is currently enrolled in college pursuing one of two passions, Performing Arts. Her second passion is biology where she plans on pursuing a career in zoology/marine biology. Her interests includes that of saving seals, sea lions caught up in nets and other marine animals who need help. As a junior naturalist Samantha enjoys sharing with Panterra students the knowledge of the natural history of the Baja she has learned over the many years of attending Panterra trips. She is a natural explorer of the sciences and arts.