Canadian Marine Mammal Rescue Network

Board of Directors
Michael Belanger

Director of Operations

Michael Belanger

Mike is the 'Father' of the Oceanographic Environmental Research Society (OERS) which he created in 1992. As a Founding Director and President of OERS, Mike has guided the organization through the growing pains that all young organizations experience. Mike is dedicated to protecting the environment and the animals who are injured or endangered through mankind's carelessness using his experience in emergency animal medicine and underwater diving. He likes to lead through example and setting the standard for others to follow or surpass. His dream is that OERS becomes a world recognized Canadian animal rescue organization with treatment/rescue facilities in each province and territory.


In 2002 he was the recipient of the Outstanding Achievement Award for Voluntarism from the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship, for his environmental initiatives with OERS.This award recognizes "extraordinary leadership, innovation and creativity in a select  group of individuals that have made superlative contributions to their communities and the province through voluntary action".

Dr. Carin Wittnich

Director/Senior Scientist/Veterinarian

Dr. Carin Wittnich

The Canadian Vet' as she was fondly referred to by other Katrina animal rescuers, is one of the founding Directors of the Oceanographic Environmental Research Society (OERS).  She leads the organization's scientific and rescue initiatives and hopes one day that OERS will indeed be a leader in both. She is proud of how OERS has melded the needs of both land and sea animals in its work and hopes that by example others will follow. 



She is a recipient of both the Order of Ontario in 2001 and the Queens Jubilee Medal in 2002. She says her life's goal is to make a difference in improving the lives of our world's animals and that of mankind as well. When questioned about why she does this, she states that irregardless of whether man has caused the troubles our animal friends find themselves or not, it is up to all of us to make it better and make a difference.

Mrs. Lora Wylie
Mrs. Wylie

As a life-long animal advocate, Lora's involvement with marine wildlife began in 1989 when the Exxon Valdez oil spill devastated Alaska's southern coast. For several months, Lora joined a dedicated team of volunteers rescuing and cleaning birds, sea otters and other animals affected by the disaster.

As a life-long animal advocate, Lora's involvement with marine wildlife began in 1989 when During her time with OERS, Lora has participated in several deployments, the highlights of which include the annual manatee health assessment deployment in Crystal Springs, Florida, where OERS volunteers dedicate their time and knowledge to the hands-on assessment of manatees, within their natural habitat, to provide baseline information on their health, reproductive status, and nutritional condition.

Lora is also an active volunteer with the American SPCA, among other animal welfare organizations. Closer to home, she spends her time and resources rehabilitating and relocating orphaned wildlife including skunks, raccoons, opossums and any other creature requiring a helping hand, in addition to fostering and re-homing the lost and abandoned domestic pets that find their way into her home and her heart.

As is often the case with giving back, Lora's contribution to animal welfare has rewarded her tenfold with decades of memorable experiences, valuable skills, and relationships with those who share the common interest of helping vulnerable wildlife. OERS has been instrumental in furthering her practical education of emergency deployment operations. She looks forward to many years of continued efforts with OERS, providing a better environment for all living creatures.

Dr. Karim Bandali
Dr. Bandali

As the ‘True Convert’, Karim started out as a volunteer and with time, dedication and commitment, he now joins the Board of Directors for the Oceanographic Environmental Research Society.  Karim brings a great deal passion and experience in the areas of volunteer co-ordination and research.  The passion and drive of the “Father” and “The Canadian Vet” are truly contagious!  This cause is not only worthy but one that demands all of our attention and support.  As a small but thriving charity, OERS has made a significant impact on the Canadian landscape in the areas of education, research and rehabilitation.  OERS brings a level of awareness about marine mammals and their environment that is sorely lacking in our schools and our communities. I invite you to join OERS and grow with us in order to fulfill our dream of a volunteer network that spans across Canada!

Karim is the recipient of the 2003 Sherman Award for outstanding contributions to an environmental charity and The Government of Ontario 2003 Volunteer Service Award as a result of his contributions to OERS.

Dr. Mary Decaire
Dr. Decaire

Dr. DeCaire has enjoyed caring for a wide variety of species during her forty years practising veterinary medicine; ranging from farm animals and companion animals to wildlife and exotics. Mary has a passion for nature and a strong belief that our community, our country and our world need grass roots involvement in animal welfare and rescue. She especially enjoyed the experience of joining Dr. Wittnich in Florida when OERS was invited to participate in an ongoing USGS study of manatee in Crystal River, Florida.


Mary is a recipient of the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association Award of Merit for her work in the past with injured native turtles. She is past Chair of the Ontario Veterinary College Pet Trust and is currently a board member of the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association. She is also on the advisory board of the Hill's Primary Health Care "Smith Animal Hospital" at the Ontario Veterinary College and serves as a record reviewer for the College of Veterinarians of Ontario Complaints Committee.

Nesime Askin
Nesime Askin

Nesime Askin is an animal loving individual who became devoted to OERS as a volunteer to share her passion for its cause and mandates. By applying the research skills she has gained from her experience as a graduate student, to the handy-dandy tasks as an artist, Nesime has been able to stretch her “flippers” to great lengths for OERS. She believes humans should be held responsible in protecting the environment and the livelihood of all the creatures living in it.

Nesime aspires to see OERS become a leader in the research, education and protection of Canadian marine mammal species for future generations. Nesime was awarded the 2002 Sherman Award and The Government of Ontario 2003 Volunteer Service Award as a result of her contributions to OERS.

Luke Tan
Luke Tan

Since 2007, Luke has been involved with many different projects while volunteering with OERS. He took over the role of Volunteer Coordinator in 2008 and has increased volunteerism in all aspects by recruiting and promoting volunteers. Luke is also very involved with the education and teaching branches of OERS, as he is a teaching assistant with all of the OERS run University of Toronto marine mammal courses and serves as a mentor for the OERS internship program. With a special interest in disaster response, Luke has trained and deployed on a number of OERS-DRD callouts. He is most proud of having helped with a horse rescue of over 200 wild mustangs in Nebraska, as well as rescueing stranded manatees from a culvert in Florida. “My fondest memories of volunteering with OERS are from the rare opportunities I was deployed on animal rescue missions. The amount of work done cannot be put into words, but the appreciation I got just by the look of these animals lets me know my effort is well worth it.” In addition to his responsibility as a volunteer coordinator, in 2009 Luke was made a member of the OERS Board of Directors.

Luke envisions OERS at the forefront of disaster response for animals in Canada, as well as setting the standard for both research and education of marine mammals.