Marine team


Vardhan Patankar

Vardhan, Senior Scientific Consultant (Marine) has worked (alongside colleagues) on a range of basic and applied studies in marine systems. These include studies on understanding the role of local institutions in governing resource use, socio-ecological resilience, illegal marine trade, coconut crabs, marine mammals, interactions between dugongs and sea-grass meadows, amongst others. For his doctoral research, he evaluated the impacts of the tsunami on the coral reef communities and marine resource utilisation in the Nicobar archipelago. Vardhan has received awards and grants from multiple institutions including the National Geographic Foundation, Research Fellowship Program of Wildlife Conservation Society. He has also been awarded the Government of India’s Department of Science and Technology INSPIRE Faculty Award. His broad research interests are in understanding animal behaviour, species interactions, socio-ecological resilience, and ecosystem level processes in marine environments. He has strong interests in coral reef ecology, reef fish communities and community dynamics of the marine ecosystem and the role that local community institutions play in regulating marine resource use, and if these institutions can be co-opted in cooperative conservation efforts. Currently, he is focusing on (1) documenting patterns and processes of reef ecosystem (2) describing on-going shifts on reef ecosystems caused due to the impact of humans and climate change. Vardhan also writes popular science articles for newspapers, magazines and blogs. To know more about his work, please visit:

Avik Arnab Banerjee 

Having joined WCS-India in 2019, Avik is currently an Associate with our Marine Conservation Program. A post-graduate in Wildlife Biology and Conservation (NCBS, 2016), he has worked on various marine conservation and ecology projects across India. He is responsible for the implementation of all Marine Protected Area activities within the Program, and is also interested in the conservation of marine mammal species in India.

Deepika Sharma 

She is working as the Project Assistant in WCS-India’s Marine Program. She has previously worked on Marine Protected Areas and Tourism in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Giridhar Malla

Giridhar Malla, is a Project Associate in Sharks & Rays project of the Marine Conservation Program. Giridhar is pursuing his PhD in the Ecology and Conservation of Fishing Cat in Godavari Mangroves. His areas of interest include conservation of threatened species particularly in coastal and marine habitats. As a marine biologist, He has experience working in coastal habitats particularly in the East Coast of India. Since 2013, He worked exclusively on conservation and ecology of fishing cats in mangroves of Andhra Pradesh. This work also includes organizing educational activities with local schools and fishing communities.


Karan Deshpande

Karan Deshpande works as a Project Assistant with the Marine Conservation Program. Having a Masters Degree in Oceanography, he aspires to work as a marine biologist within the broad spectrum of conservation sciences. He has worked on a wide range of research projects based on Marine Protected Areas, coral reef ecosystems and marine protected species.
Besides his love for all things marine, he’s also a sports enthusiast and has previously represented state and national teams in the sport of Basketball and Throwball. 

Moon Bhandari 

Moon Bhandari is the Project Manager in the Marine Conservation Program. She has completed her Master's in Environmental Science from SIES, Nerul, Mumbai University. She has worked across various verticals such as Procuring Environmental Clearance for infrastructural companies,Watershed Management Projects in Mumbai.She has handled the CSR arm of a renowned CA firm in Baroda.Moon also handled Service Communications for Expereo International in Dubai.Before joining WCS-India, she was heading CSR department of Mangrove Foundation of Maharashtra. She is passionate about Conservation and has volunteered at many NGOs.

Nupur Kale

Nupur Kale is a Project Associate with the Marine Conservation Program. Her main research interests are sea turtle biology and conservation, and by extension all things marine. She has worked on various sea turtle research projects across India in Odisha, Maharashtra and the Lakshadweep islands, as well as for short periods in Sri Lanka and Costa Rica. She is also interested in working with communities to ensure effective conservation and sustainable livelihoods. 
With the Marine Conservation Program, she will be leading a project that assesses the impact of diving on coral reefs in the Lakshadweep islands.

Zoya Tyabji

Zoya is working as an associate with the Marine Conservation Program, WCS – India. She has previously worked on elasmobranchs and coral reefs and is fascinated with all things marine.







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