I can’t count the number of times a guest on our boat will come up to me, enthusiastically gushing “You have the most amazing job!” or “Wow, what an office!” It’s true — I do have a great job and the best view at PacWhale. As ECO team members, we encounter incredible marine wildlife on a daily basis, and we are doing meaningful conservation and education work. But there’s a lot more to being a Marine Naturalist than meets the eye.
For starters … who serves up crumbly apple danishes and yummy banana bread slices for breakfast? The naturalists do! Who makes sure everyone is properly caffeinated, sun-screened, and snorkeling gear-equipped? We do! Who makes sure all questions are answered and reasonable requests fulfilled so our wonderful guests can have the best day of their vacation? Why, the naturalists of course!
We wear a lot of hats out there on the water, and I’m not just talking about our cute PWF whale-tail caps. We’re lifeguards, waiters, educators, snorkel instructors, nautical knot experts, onboard researchers, whale spotters, wildlife interpreters, reef tour guides, sunscreen applicators, keiki teachers, fish experts, fundraisers, deck hands, boat scrubbers, gear washers, freedivers, boat mechanics, bilge pumpers, and ultimately — advocates of ocean love and environmental stewardship.
It’s a lot of work, we never stop moving, and we love what we do. The ocean is our thing. It’s what wakes us up in the morning and gets us excited about work every day. Every time a little kid gasps with wonder at a sea turtle, or an excited first-time visitor asks me about a fish they’ve never seen before, or anyone laughs at my whale jokes, another wave of gratitude washes over me. These little things make me stop and ask myself “Do I actually get to do this for a living?”
And how exactly does one become a Marine Naturalist? Stay tuned for my next post and also check out this page for more info on PacWhale’s vessel crew.