What do you do? I am asked that a lot. Also, what have you been up to recently with all that travelling? I do a lot of different things and everyone thinks I have the most crazy amazing career (and you know, I do!).
It can sound glamorous but what I spend a lot of time doing is just sitting or standing on a boat, eating a delicious combination of; trail mix, crackers, chocolate, and fruit, waiting……
For whales to breathe!
It is an amazing, but by no means easy way to spend your time. I do however love nearly every minute of it. There are crazy days of high winds and big swells. White caps so severe that you would be lucky to spot a whale blow! On a good day it is the most wonderful place in the world to be, a light breeze in your hair as you scan the horizon waiting for that unusual movement to catch your eye. The whale blow, its massive exhalation of breath.
If you are really lucky and the whales decide to grace you with their presence and spy on you their breath may even hit you in the face! That is pure joy and a little olfactory explosion!
Now, when the whales do surface and breathe there is a flurry of activity to collect as much information as we can on them before they are back diving back down again under the waves. I think that’s something I will have to dedicate a whole post to at some point.
During that waiting though you have to maintain your focus, be on guard for a surfacing and never…never stop scanning if you want to capture each surfacing event.
It can be both mentally and physically challenging but, the moment you see your study species at the surface any pain goes away and your filled with joy. Actually, any species that you get to see on a survey is exciting and gets everyone pumped up be it, marine mammal, reptile, bird or fish! However, for me it is that special noise of a whales first breath above the surface *PWFFFF* that makes my skin tingle and my hair stand up! It is very special and I love it!