Posted by: orcaweb | August 27, 2009

BLOG UPDATE: Message from our researcher Sofy – looking into collisions between whales and vessels

P1010044The job of a researcher is not often well understood. Many people think it is very easy, while others believe it is something that everyone can do. Well, I am going to clarify all this using my experience onboard the Pont Aven, and what were my thoughts during the whole 6 weeks.

Data collection is the most fun part of a researcher’s job, but don’t take for granted that everything will go according to plan. From movies usually people have an idea that these things are very easy to see, that rare animals, behaviors and so many wonderful things are at everyone’s reach, and that is not how it works. During my first 2 weeks onboard cetaceans were very difficult to spot and not being able to see anything for more than 2 hours just takes all the energy and motivation out of your system. But you have to keep going, you need data to process!

P1010050After those 2 weeks, I was fed up with dolphins and just wanted new, different cetaceans to see! Fortunately, soon after that I had fin whales, Cuvier’s beaked whales and even killer whales! My mind changed, every sighting even if it’s just a dolphin or a gannet, is always good. You would never be able to see all that sitting at home or even at the beach in Portugal. No, I was very lucky for what I was able to see, for where I was, doing what I love. Once you get a sighting, you don’t need coffee, the thing for itself gives you the rush you need to keep on the look out for 3 more hours.

After getting all the information you need, comes the tricky part: you need to organize it very well, test and validate your results using statistics and then write all about it in maximum detail, so everyone can understand why, how you did it and what great discoveries come from your work! What secrets have you revealed, what do you advice to upcoming projects and the most important – how did your work contribute for the conservation of such elegant and mysterious animals.

Philippe and Yannik up on the bridge

Philippe and Yannik up on the bridge

Going somewhere on your own to do research is always a big adventure that starts mainly with knowing the people you are going to be with during this time. Having friends in the kitchen is very helpful, no doubt about that, but the people that will definitely be there, help you, feel your frustration with you and laugh at your joy are the ones that truly deserve most of your attention. There is no way to escape problems, you just need to look for help and find the best way to overcome them. With all this I should say that the crew and especially officers on this ship have been no less than simply amazing.

Sofy

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