Posted by: orcaweb | May 17, 2009

Introducing the new ORCA / Brittany Ferries Wildlife Officers!

To be an ORCA Wildlife Education Officer requires specialist skills and dedication. It can be a tough job, with long hours, days and even weeks spent at sea. So why have Lena Pettersson and Rachael Portnall been crazy enough to take up the post? Because it is also one of the most exciting jobs on the planet – after all, how many of us get to watch whales and dolphins from our ‘office’ window and meet so many people from all walks of life!


We quizzed Rachael and Lena to find out what excites them about this project. This is what they said:


Rachael Portnall says:


Why you decided to take on the role?

 I took on this role because I see it as a challenge to enthuse a wider audience and get more people as excited about the marine environment as I am.


What excites you about the partnership between ORCA and the ‘ferry company’?

 The partnership provides an excellent opportunity to reach and talk to so many more people from a wide and diverse variety of backgrounds.


What you hope to gain from your new role?

 I hope to gain more fantastic memories and experiences not only of wildlife but of passengers, their stories and reactions to wildlife encounters.


Why you think your work for ORCA and the ferry company is important?

 I feel the work is extremely important to help raise awareness of our marine environment, the threats it faces and how people can help protect it.


Lena Pettersson says:

Why you decided to take on the role?

Marine life is absolutely the most fascinating thing I know! To be honest, it feels more like a privilege (than a job) to be able to experience it together with all guests, and hopefully spark their interest for the Blue!

What excites you about the partnership between ORCA and the ‘ferry company’?

“Brittany Ferries” is such a wonderful platform for spreading the message of marine conservation; with all these people and their differing degree of environmental interest.  I’m really looking forward to meet each and every one, and find out what excites them about the ocean. The message is also strengthened by direct encounters with marine wildlife, as well as different activities; what setting could be more efficient for positive blue inspiration! 

Why you think your work for ORCA and the ferry company is important?

I personally think “guilt”, “blame” and forcing the message of “personal responsibility” are factors that should not be used to persuade people about the importance of marine life. For sustainable changes in attitude and behaviour it would be so much better if people actually thought that the Ocean is worth saving. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all departed the ship with enthusiasm for life both below and above the ocean surface? That is a high ambition, but I definitely think that the cooperation between ORCA and Brittany Ferries is such an important initiative; it can benefit marine awareness in the most positive sense.


Meet our Fin Whale Scientist!

As part of our project with Brittany Ferries, a student will be completing a Masters thesis on behalf of the charity, entitled: Understanding fin whale behaviour as a tool for mitigating against large ship strikes

Ship strikes cause serious injuries and mortalities to whales worldwide, and are widely implicated as a major factor affecting the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale (Eubalaena glacialis) population. Despite this, world shipping activity is predicted to increase by 30% to 50% by 2030. The speed and size of vessels is also expected to increase dramatically, with 30% of the world’s shipping fleet expected to be too large to pass through the Panama Canal by 2020.

Our student, Sofia Aniceto, is an MSc student at the University of Hull studying Global Aquatic Biodiversity: Monitoring and Conservation. She is a Portuguese student, coming from the University of Lisbon, having graduated last year in Environmental Marine Biology.

 Sofia Aniceto says:

 “My interest in marine mammals has grown since I was involved in the rehabilitation of a Pilot Whale in the local zoo. I believe conservation of marine ecosystems is very important nowadays, especially of mammals, which have a great influence in the stability of these environments.”

More info on the Masters project due to be undertaken by Sofia in July / August onboard the Pont Aven will be available on this blog shortly. 


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