Accidental Whale Portraits And Soundtraps!

We have had some pretty good whale days over the last week. Alongside getting fin shots I have also once or twice lucked out and managed to get some beautiful whale shots as they have surfaced to breathe. Two of my favourites are below. It was pure luck that I managed to get the images in such clear focus that they almost don’t look real. The moment frozen in time with the tidal wave of water is pretty awe worthy I think!



SoundTrap by Ocean Instruments New Zealand. Image: Ocean Instruments New Zealand

Alongside photo-id images we are trying to gather acoustic recordings. A new tool which we have been using for that this week is a soundtrap.This is an autonomous underwater recording device that we have rigged up to allow us to tow it behind the vessel when we move at slow speeds. This is in a new attempt to get recordings of the killer whales acoustically communicating without having to stop the vessel. We are excited to listen to and view our recordings to see if we have picked up any calls. So far it seems that flow (water) and engine noise are at a minimum when recording in out current set up which is very good news for picking up biological sounds.

I’ll leave you with one final image that is a later image from a different individual of the same pod during the same surfacing This individual looks like they are wearing a bubble mask!


Many thanks to Naturaliste Charters and Riggs Australia for allowing us space on their vessels. Further thanks to the Centre for Marine Science and Technology at Curtin University for equipment loan and support.

You can also follow along on the Deep Blue Conversations Facebook Page. I post interesting articles related to marine conservation, share awesome stories as well as photos from the marine conservation and environmental world in general. Come on over and have a look!

On Conservation News and Life Lately

I have been super busy these past few weeks catching up at home, writing grant proposals and getting in some quality puppy time and writing grant proposals!! I don’t however want to let the blog I love fall my the wayside.

Study Time

Study Time

There have been some pretty big things going on these past few weeks in the marine world:

  • International Marine Conservation Congress was held in Glasgow and from the sounds of things was pretty interesting. Lots of great talks including on the need for positivity in a sometimes dismal conservation world! With all the bad we need to bring some of the good news to keep people going, to maintain the focus, to just let us all have some happy…Celebrate the SUCCESSES! The new buzzword/term…“OCEAN OPTIMISM”! I like it.

  • The International Whaling Commission meeting on Climate Change also took place recently. Probably a lot less happy going on here. There are no proceeding out yet but I do fear it was less happy, clappy, good news of a meeting.
  • We need to act now with conservation actions before we have every single teeny tiny detail. That is the message that Amanda Vincent of the University of British Columbia opened IMCC with. It is true we may never know everything we can ever know when species or habitats are at risk. We have to gather what we know now and put it into action. Sometimes there is just no time to wait. We can keep collecting data but we still need a plan for RIGHT NOW!

“Science matters deeply, but we can’t let ourselves be trapped by the need to gather more data” – Amanda Vincent.

What stories have you been following this week? Let me know in the comments below.

Gloria with the frisbee

Puppy Play Time!

My Conservation Careers Interview

Back in December 2013 I as approached my Nick Askew of Conservation Careers website. He asked if I would be willing to share my conservation career story for his growing career information website. Of course, I agreed as I am happy to get my story out there and hope it helps other who are starting out in this field or who think it may be the one for them.

That's me looking pretty snazzy!It was really great to talk about what I have done so far in my short career, how I started out, and to share advice as well as any difficulties I have come across while I have worked to grow as a scientist. I did this with the hope that it can help and inspire budding marine biologists and conservation scientists in the world.

You can read my full interview here → How To Start Out In Marine Biology?

My big piece of advice that I gave and stand by is this:


Waiting For Whales To Breathe!

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.

Blowing killer whale from the A36 brothers in Johnstone Strait, BC.

Blowing killer whale from the A36 brothers in Johnstone Strait, BC.