The zeal, dedication and passion of our future marine researchers are the bedrock on which blue whale conservation and research can prosper. Through its Marine Science Youth Mentoring Program, Blue Whale Study invests in local youth, encouraging these qualities. Operating since 2014, each year the program is offered to four local high school students interested in a career in marine or environmental science, creating an opportunity for them to explore beyond the normal boundaries of their education
Our mentoring program encourages local youth by introducing them to their local marine environment and its diverse fauna, and larger oceanic processes such as upwelling, the rigours and challenges of boat-based cetacean research, the methods used to capture data, and some of the environmental and ethical considerations involved in undertaking this type of research. It also offers the exciting possibility of first hand encounters with pygmy blue whales and other marine mammals, a basic grounding in nautical skills essential for this type of work, and an emphasis on the teamwork necessary to work together as a crew in a potentially hazardous environment.
Our trusty research vessel, Bonney Blue, has since 2007 been our workhorse on the ocean. She was temporarily out of action during 2017, but will again be plying the local waters in the 2018/2019 survey season.
Three colleges have been involved in the program to date; Portland Secondary, Bayview and Heywood & District Secondary. Feedback from teachers and students has been enthusiastic and constructive, allowing us to refine the program to meet the students’ needs.
Throughout the life of the program, Blue Whale Study as had generous support from the Isobel and David Jones Foundation, Australian Geographic Society, Uebergang Foundation, the W.V. Scott Trust and the Wettenhall Foundation.
We enjoy this opportunity to share our knowledge and experience with our future stewards of both blue whales and the marine environment.
ABOVE LEFT: Our four students during the 2018 program. ABOVE RIGHT: Reggie Blurton takes a turn at the wheel.