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The trials and tribulations of killer whale research

Can my memory stretch back that far…? Back to this April when I revisited Peggy Stap of Marine Life Studies(MLS), to assist her once again with her research in Monterey Bay, attempting to track down some enigmatic killer whales…? (Those smart and elusive animals that experienced spotters on the bay’s many whale watching boats often only find once in an azure-blue moon).

 

Well, in all honesty I will say that my memory is pretty appalling at best, but I will attempt to recapture the fragments that my leaking-boat of a brain still holds.

 

I was staying with Peggy for two weeks… Two weeks of intensive research… Out on her boat ‘Sweetpea’ every day on the hunt… Photographing dorsal fins left, right and center (the established method for identifying individuals)… Recording reams of written data on their behaviour, numbers, interactions with other animals… Slowly, slowly building up a network of data that on its own may seem insignificant but, over the days, months and years, becomes a valuable repository of information to be used as crucial evidence in some future moment of political or business decision making that may impact the lives of whales for better or worse… Important, scientific inquiry… Long, exhausting days at sea from pre-dawn to dusk, plus hours of imputing data into computer programs, processing photographs and establishing whale ID’s…

 

 

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Amanda Bank's Blog