If you read my last post you will appreciate some of the difficulties and uncertainties of cetacean research. It is far from easy! Becoming a proficient researcher depends on having, or attaining, certain attributes of character, including: patience, determination and flexibility. The researchers I know have an almost limitless patience for, and acceptance of, the sometimes daunting, trivial, impossible, stressful, hilarious, frustrating or distressing challenges they face every single day. The average person could be forgiven if they gave up, wept and decided to become a cat-herder instead. But for a researcher, cetaceans are so infused into their being, in their blood, heart and head, that they could not conceive of a life lived any other way and will always find the means to further their research, whatever the obstacles.
To some of us, the point and validity of such research, and such a life, may not seem obvious. Who cares what the population distribution and abundance of a spotted dolphin is? Why would I want to know the male to female ratio of gray whales? What is so fascinating about the feeding behavior of sperm whales? Let the whales and dolphins be, why bother prying into their private lives!? But, from a wider perspective, who are we to question the validity of anyone else’s passion simply because we do not share a passion for the particular subject they are passionate about? Surely, we can respect and admire the simple fact that they are passionate about SOMETHING, and furthermore that they ACTIVELY pursue that passion and have not allowed the FEAR of doing so to conquer them. And, from mother Earth’s perspective, such research contributes to the quest to look after her ocean dwelling children, for which I am sure she nods her head in approval.
All of which brings us back to Peggy Stap of Marine Life Studies, one such whale-addicted researcher who spends the majority of her time initiating conservation and education work, and the minority engaged in her passion for killer whale research.