Meet the Team

Mike Walsh: Principal Investigator

After graduating from the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, Mike completed an internship at the University of Pennsylvania in small animal medicine and surgery, followed by a residency in Zoo and Wildlife Medicine at the University of Florida. He focused on consulting and relief work until he was later hired at SeaWorld Orlando, where he took care of their collection for over 20 years. In partnership with the other veterinarians and animal departments, he developed standards of care for many aquatic species, including cetaceans, sharks, sea turtles, and manatees. In parallel with care of the collection, SeaWorld pioneered the field of rehabilitation for ill and injured marine wildlife. In an effort to help train the next generation of researchers, Mike joined the UF College of Veterinary Medicine, where he has championed the growth and impact of the UF Marine Animal Rescue Program.

Craig Pelton: co-Principal Investigator

Craig has been working with marine mammals for over 30 years, starting as a marine mammal trainer and stranding team member at the Miami Seaquarium. He also worked as one of the main observers for the National Marine Fisheries Service Swim with Dolphin behavioral study. He served as the Executive Director, Stranding and Rehabilitation Coordinator for the Marine Animal Rescue Society, Inc., a non-profit marine mammal stranding network and rehabilitation facility in South Florida which he cofounded. He started with the University of Florida originally at the Deep Horizon Oil Spill, working with oiled sea turtles and dolphins in New Orleans. Since 2011, he has been stationed at the Volusia County Marine Science Center doing sea turtle and seabird rehabilitation while assisting with stranding responses and disentanglements in cetaceans, cetacean and manatee health assessments, and acting as the contract/consulting veterinarian at multiple facilities around Florida and the Bahamas.

Brittany Barbeau: Biological Scientist

Brittany has worked in the field of marine mammal and sea turtle strandings for over 8 years. She gained experience in marine mammal and sea turtle rescue, rehabilitation, and release while working for Mote Marine Laboratory, the Virginia Aquarium, and most recently with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Marine Mammal Pathobiology Laboratory. Brittany has extensive experience in marine animal necropsy and sample management, marine animal rescue and rehabilitation, and has contributed to Florida manatee research. Brittany joined the UF as the Aquatic Animal Health Program’s Biological Scientist in 2021, supporting the program’s goals through research, teaching activities, and aiding UF’s Marine Animal Rescue Program.

Suzanna Mickey: Stranding and Rescue Biologist

Suzanna is a Marine Mammal Stranding Biologist for the University of Florida Marine Animal Rescue who responds to dead, distressed, or injured cetaceans, manatees, and sea turtles in Levy, Dixie, and Taylor counties. The data collected from these responses help to better understand the marine mammal populations along our coast. Additionally, Suzanna assists in necropsies and other research projects.

Dana Lanier: DVM Courtesy Faculty

Dana is courtesy faculty at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine. She volunteers her time with the University of Florida Marine Animal Rescue Program responding to injured, sick or deceased marine mammals and sea turtles in Levy, Dixie and Taylor counties. As an FAA licensed drone pilot, she utilizes drones with permission and special permits to aid in the rescue of and response to animals requiring assistance.

Click on the images above to see full-size photos and captions.

*All cetacean, manatee, and sea turtle efforts are conducted under proper permits and authorization. Cetacean efforts are conducted under a Stranding Agreement between NOAA/NMFS. Manatee efforts are conducted under FWS permit MA770191. Sea turtle efforts are conducted under FWC MTP-20-194.