Deanna Leonard-Spitzer - Naturalist

Deanna Leonard-Spitzer


Deanna is a marine biologist with Norway’s Institute of Marine Research. She loves to spot- and spout about- whales, seals, and walruses.

Deanna grew up on the shores of Great Slave Lake in the Canadian Arctic; her love of science and the environment came naturally. With a zoology degree under her belt, she moved to Boston to study whales, rehabilitate injured seals, and teach about ocean conservation. She pursued her graduate studies at the University of Alaska and spent a decade as a senior biologist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) in Yellowknife, making a difference in the lives of creatures both great and small.

Deanna’s research on whales and their habitats has taken her all over our big blue planet. Off Vancouver Island, she’s explored the social lives of sea lions. In Nantucket, she’s catalogued the lineages of humpback-whale calves, and in Norway, she’s tracked the distribution of orcas and blue whales. In the Arctic, she satellite-tagged bowhead whales and surveyed the Beaufort Sea by small plane to study their feeding patterns.

Currently “on loan” from DFO, Deanna is working for Norway’s Institute for Marine Research where she studies North Atlantic whale populations ranging from the North Sea to the Faroe Islands to Svalbard. She estimates the abundance of North Atlantic whales, monitors their interactions with fisheries, and studies the effects of climate change on whale populations in the remote Barents Sea.

Deanna has a splash studying whales and spending time on the ocean, but what she loves most about her career in the Arctic is the access to pristine wilderness and visiting remote places, where the pace of life falls in step with the rhythm of nature. In her spare time, Deanna can be found hiking, kayaking, and travelling with her husband, Aaron Spitzer (Adventure Canada expedition team member) and son, Mark “the Shark” (aspiring Adventure Canada team member).