join us

We've done what others said was just a dream.
Be a part of our future as we help thousands of animals still living
in captivity rediscover the wild.


 the sanctuary leaders


John Racanelli

President and CEO
National Aquarium

John has led some of the country's most successful aquariums in a career spanning 40 years. He is known for challenging old ways of thinking and promoting entrepreneurial approaches in zoos, aquariums and museums. John previously led a San Francisco-based consulting firm that provided expert counsel to cultural and conservation organizations including the Sylvia Earle Alliance/Mission Blue, International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Surfrider Foundation. Over two prior decades, John served in leadership positions at the world-renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Florida Aquarium, Tampa Bay's leading cultural attraction. John began his career as a diver/aquarist and has never lost sight of his origins. 


Charles Vinick

Executive Director 
Whale Sanctuary Project

Charles was privileged to serve as director of the highly-publicized Keiko Project, a pioneering effort that marshaled public and media support to reintroduce to the wild the captive orca made famous through the Free Willy filmsFor 25 years, Charles worked closely with Jean-Michel and Jacques Cousteau helping them establish, grow and sustain multiple initiatives. As an adviser to and cofounder of the Cousteau Centers, Inc., Charles oversaw development of and managed Parc Oceanique Cousteau, an ocean education and entertainment complex in Paris. Charles shepherded the growth of the Cousteau Society and served as Executive Vice President of the Jean-Michel Cousteau Institute and Ocean Futures Society. 


Graham McGrath 

Managing Director

Graham heads up SEA LIFE and its mission to work globally to protect the world’s oceans and marine life. As such, he works to end to over-exploitation of marine animals through global projects and campaigns, including the operation of two marine animal sanctuaries: the Cornish Seal Sanctuary in the UK, and the Beluga Whale Sanctuary in Iceland. Graham has been with Merlin Entertainment since 2007 charged with leading a variety of brand development, project design, and commercial growth and consumer experiences.


Rob Hicks 

Director - Conservation, Welfare and Education, Merlin Entertainmen

A passionate marine biologist, Rob creates innovative and unique ways to inspire Merlin’s guests to love and protect the sea and its inhabitants andhas been instrumental in driving SEA LIFE’s conservation message. Created in partnership with global marine wildlife charity Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) and Merlin’s SEA LIFE Trust, the Beluga Whale Sanctuary transported two beluga whales 6,000 miles from China to a new home in Iceland.  Rob previously worked as Merlin’s Director of Marine Programmes and Engagement, and has been with Merlin’s SEA LIFE brand and its predecessor Vardon for more than 30 years. 

the summit leaders


Johanna Santer & Janesse Brewer

Founder Sonar Summit

Johanna Santer and Janesse Brewer founded Sonar Summit to accelerate sanctuary development worldwide. Johanna has spent her life founding new ventures in publishing, philanthropy, climate change, health, and education, and has contributed over a million dollars to front line environmental issues through her family foundation. Janesse has more than 20 years of experience in mediation, facilitation, and stakeholder engagement in the areas of environment, public health, art, and education, and has conducted strategic planning, policy dialogues, mediations, and public engagement processes at national and international levels.

ready to join?

There are six invited guest spots, to connect with individual whales as they travel to freedom, to share your own story and wisdom, or simply to learn how whales and dolphins become free. 


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