Every year we take student interns with us on our research project. We love introducing the world of marine mammal field work to enthusiastic students. This is Amara's summary of her time with us, thank you Amara for all your hard work!
by Amara Chittenden
My time at the Islas Secas is coming to an end and I cannot believe how fast the past few weeks have gone by. I was not sure what to expect with my first field research experience, and I could not be happier with all the things I have learned. I now understand the effort that goes into using photo IDs of flukes and comparing each of them to a large database (of over 600 whales!) from previous seasons. Every time that we put the hydrophone into the water was exciting, and I think we all agree that humpback whale songs should be at the top of the music charts. When we stumbled upon competitive groups of 8 or 9 whales, watching them throw their huge bodies at each other for a female companion, we could spend hours stitching together a picture of who is who and what is playing out. Watching this team of researchers that have dedicated themselves to putting in long hours every day to get this data is the coolest thing to get to be a part of. We are all exhausted at the end of the night, but we wake up every morning ready to go out. Because when you see a mom and calf milling about, or a whale breaching in the distance, or a singer composing a song beneath the boat, you get even more excited about the work that goes on. I am so lucky to have been able to see these whales up close, and to be at these beautiful islands where we are so supported and welcomed. And while I will definitely miss the massive quantities of Pringles that we have snacked on in the field, I will miss the people here the most. I cannot wait to hear about the results and outcomes from the project (especially the sound recorder!), but in the mean time I’ll be heading back to school in Vermont. Thank you Kristin and Panacetacea for everything and the internship of a lifetime!