Dr. Jo Marie (Jom) Acebes
Jom is a Filipina marine scientist and veterinarian with a lifelong curiosity for ocean life and passion for using it to inspire local people in its stewardship. She started her career off as a volunteer for the Species Unit of World Wildlife Fund-Philippines. Her first close encounter with cetaceans off Negros and training at Silliman University prepared her for the first humpback whale research expedition in the Babuyan Islands in 2000 – an experience that turned out to be life-changing. Volunteer work led to a job, which almost instantaneously turned into a passion and a career.
Since then she has led many cetacean surveys around the country, responded to marine mammal strandings, and conducted workshops on marine mammal biology, research and conservation, often engaging youth leadership from various communities. While Jom has been involved with WWF-Philippines and Conservation International-Philippines, she has also initiated substantial independent research and conservation projects, which is where CREE began supporting her. From this Jom and colleagues were able to launch a locally based non-profit, Balyena. Balyena’s focus is introducing new and upcoming scientists to biological fieldwork, spreading knowledge, and encouraging everyone to do their part in the conservation of whale and dolphin populations and their habitats in the Philippines.