The Doctor's (not) in (yet): From Theory to Practice


A pretty busy and exciting week! I’m drowning in housewares and moving boxes (next week I’m changing my turf to the seaside!!), recovering from my very exhausting karate weekend leaving me with soreness and bruises and attended my supervisor’s inaugural professorial address about marine wildlife tourism (and mermaiding!). Once more I could enjoy nibbles and booze and caught up with my secondary supervisor to arrange an opportunity to appear as a visiting researcher at the University of the Sunshine Coast later this year. Phew.

The most exciting part, however, came up yesterday when I found out that I’ve been appointed to be a panel member for the new responsible whale-watching certification programme!!

Um, what’s that? The certification programme initiated by the World Cetacean Alliance is the very first of its kind which will put a particular (and hopefully a high one!) standard in commercial cetacean watching operations. With the certification, operators can become more distinct and marine wildlife enthusiasts will know immediately, whether a chosen operator acts responsibly around whales, dolphins and porpoises. And yes, tour guests shouldn’t be underestimated since many people have a good awareness of ethical wildlife encounters these days.

So what is my part then? Well, I’ll be one of those who will set these standards that are based on the WCA global best-practice guidance for responsible whale and dolphin watching. This document was launched about a year ago in which you can find my two cents as well, particularly on in-water interactions since this is my main area of expertise. So basically I’ll help to think of the criteria that have to be met by an operator when the company wants to be certified. The review panel consists of eight members (scientists, managers, tour operators, educators etc.) who have many years of experience and I’m completely over the moon that I can be part of this.

Working on the theory for almost ten years now being able to take action and to be a decision-maker feels incredibly empowering and I’d like to thank WCA at this stage for the trust and faith in my abilities to assign me to this responsible position. Ever since I’ve read the work of my supervisors I wanted to fill their shoes one day (even when I know their shoe sizes exceed mine in an astronomical magnitude, haha) and when I’ve listened to my supervisor’s speech and his academic journey I remembered that anything’s possible, particularly with great mentors.