Jody Weir BSc, MSc, PhD
Since arriving in Kaikōura in 2004 to study the local dusky dolphins, I have been amazed by the abundance and diversity of marine life right in our backyard. I have a deep interest in animal behaviour research and how we can use what we learn about wildlife and human behaviours to reduce threats to wildlife and the environment.
I am immensely passionate and enthusiastic about the work that we do and looking for ways to connect our community to KORI’s research and conservation projects through volunteer and student participation, public presentations and different media outlets.
I have a MSc in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from Texas A&M University, a PhD in Biology and Anthropology from the University of Victoria and since 2010 have run a community conservation project focused on lemurs in Madagascar. Currently I am directing the research programmes for Kaikōura Hector’s and dusky dolphins as well as our local population of little penguins.
I have a long background in marine conservation and tourism. My career began in Scotland and I came back to Kaikōura in 2004 to work in dolphin and marine seabird tourism. This is where I met my future wife, Dr Jody Weir, who was conducting marine mammal research and teaching field schools.
I’m the Operations Manager for KORI and I’m a qualified skipper. I also co-founded the Penguin Education and Awareness Programme (PEAP) and I am qualified in penguin banding.
In 2015, I trained a Hungarian Vizsla, named Mena, to become a Conservation Dog to assist in locating little blue penguins. Mena is now a vital part of our Kaikōura penguin research and has been also been utilised by other NGOs and local governments around New Zealand.
You can read more about Mena here.
I hail from Ontario, Canada where I did an undergraduate degree in History/Political Science and a Masters Degree in Theology.
Since 2008, I have been privileged to call Kaikōura home, serving as Program Director for Creation Care Study Program–an interdisciplinary study abroad program focused on environmental education.
As long as I can remember, I’ve had a fascination with marine mammals, especially dolphins. I love being involved with Kaikōura Ocean Research Institute and exploring our marine backyard.
I am currently employed by Whalewatch Kaikōura as sea crew, and previously worked as a natives keeper for Orana Wildlife Trust doing breed for release kiwi, whio, pateke, red, yellow and orange fronted kakariki.
Prior to that I spent 8 years employed at the International Antarctic Centre as a penguin keeper looking after rehab or ‘second chance’ little penguins and white-flipper penguins.
I joined KORI in 2015 when I was seal monitoring with DOC in Kaikōura. I’m now a part of the penguin monitoring programme and assist with the boat based research for Kaikōura’s local Hector’s dolphin, fur seal and penguin populations.
The reward of being part of KORI is subtle, hidden in doing what I love with a professional and amazing team of like minded people!
I came to Kaikōura in 2018 to see the sperm whales, and became involved with KORI after hearing about the PEAPs. I’ve been involved in many of the different facets of KORI since then, from building this website to taking part in marine mammal surveys and penguin monitoring. Currently, I’m collecting data for my MSc, which will focus on mapping changes to the distrbution and abundance of the New Zealand fur seal (kekeno) along the Kaikōura coastline following the 2016 earthquake.
I’m originally from Pennsylvania in the United States, but have called Kaikōura home since 2018. I studied biology and sustainability at university, which included a term with the Creation Care Study Programme here in Kaikōura. I returned in 2018 to serve on the staff team.
I’ve been enchanted by penguins for as long as I can remember, so it’s been particularly delightful to assist with KORI’s penguin monitoring. I’m honoured to be able to interact with the abundant marine life in my own backyard through the important work KORI does and I also appreciate connecting with like-minded people through the organisation.
After spending 15 years overseas exploring mountains and adventuring, mostly in Canada, Japan and Switzerland, I decided it was time to come back to my home country of New Zealand. The magnificent outdoor playground attracted me to Kaikōura, as it is all of my passions combined into one picturesque location. The abundant marine life right next to mountain biking, hiking, fishing, swimming, skiing, camping and surfing, all on our doorstep. I am motivated and enthusiastic to protect these natural wonders, so we and many generations can enjoy and experience this beautiful playground too. Moving to Kaikōura in April 2021, I began as a volunteer for the Great Kaikōura Whale Count, and am hooked, to be part of something that will make a difference is what I aspire to. Completing a degree in Leisure studies and Education, I am keen to learn, share, protect and respect these environments for the future. I look forward to being part of the KORI team.