Naturalist Spotlight: Maddie Buresh

“So what brought you out here? And … how? How did you do it?”

We get this question a lot. Many folks are fascinated by the steps it takes to become a Pacific Whale Foundation certified Marine Naturalist. Our naturalists are college grads from all over the country – Minnesota, Kansas, California, Idaho, Florida, you name the state – we’ve most likely had a naturalist from there. The majority of us applied online and had numerous phone and Skype interviews, where we were able to show our enthusiasm and demonstrate our knowledge of marine conservation. Plenty of us had other experiences outside of college before we started here, including marine mammal research, internships, and other field work. Our hiring managers must have an incredibly difficult time making their selections from all the interested and skilled applicants – who doesn’t want to move to Maui?

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Promising partnership in Guatemala

Whalewatching continues to grow globally with new markets emerging. Guatemala is the latest country seeking to develop whale watch operations off its Pacific coast focusing on the annual migration of humpback whales that migrate through their waters December through June. The humpbacks are thought to be en route to/from their breeding and calving grounds off Costa Rica, and likely spend their summer months feeding near central California northward to BC, Canada.

Greg Kaufman, founder of Pacific Whale Foundation recently traveled to the small coastal community of Montericco, Guatemala — best known for its 20km- long nature reserve of coast and coastal mangrove wetlands — to speak with tour operators about whalewatching and learn first-hand their challenges and whale observations.

The department of tourism, INGUAT, reached out to Kaufman for advice on this new developing industry. They stressed the importance of wanting to take a scientific approach to cultivate sustainable tourism in the area. Kaufman shared his thoughts on regulation and responsible practices.

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Protecting the Ocean, One Purchase at a Time

Healthy oceans depend on a lot of factors – one of the most important being you and me. Our choices as consumers have a profound influence on the future of the marine environment, and believe it or not, can affect the smallest algae to the largest whale.

Unfortunately, the manufacturing consumer products typically comes with a big environmental price tag. A single t-shirt, for example, can use up to 700 gallons of water.  Not to mention the host of chemical dyes and pesticides that are associated with a shirt’s manufacturing.

As an organization committed to minimizing our environmental impact, Pacific Whale Foundation has taken numerous steps to green its retail operations. One way that we are making a difference is by substituting traditional products, like 100% cotton t-shirts made in China, with items that are more environmentally friendly.

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Making Waves through the “Eco-Revolution”

While the individuals who comprise the term “ocean activists” all work towards a common goal, the reality is, “ocean activists” come in a variety of shapes and forms, and all are armed with unique talents.

Some, for example, may use their gift of oratory to lobby on Capitol Hill or inspire others to take action at the public level.  Others address issues such as coastal erosion by restoring native dune systems and watersheds.  And still others weld the talent of a camera.

Peter Jay Brown, ocean activist, posing with the Sea Shepherd ship.

Peter Jay Brown, ocean activist, posing with the Sea Shepherd ship.

Enter Peter Jay Brown, a vivacious and outspoken ocean activist who has spent his adult life exposing environmental injustices throughout the world.  A professional cinematographer by trade, Peter Jay Brown launched his environmental career as a young boy on Cape Cod, protesting the creation of a deep water harbor.

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The Plastic Problem: Part I “What are Plastics”

Plastics are everywhere – from cell phones to soda bottles, to trash on the beach and in our oceans. Yet while our lives are dominated by plastic, plastics and their environmental impacts are still largely misunderstood by many people. This three part series explores plastics—from their creation to what happens once they go in your trash can or recycling bin. Part I begins by answering the first big question: “What are plastics?!” 

While some plastics are naturally found in the environment, the majority are man-made. Man-made plastics are created when individual carbon molecules are chemically bonded together. These carbon molecules are typically extracted from oil, a non-renewable resource, but more eco-friendly alternatives use carbon derived from natural materials like corn oil. Individual carbon molecules are combined to create compounds like styrene, ethylene and formaldehyde. 

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Field Report from Chile

Chile’s Chiloé Island and its surrounding waters serve as a crucial feeding ground for blue whales of the southern hemisphere, a migratory route for several bird species, and are a key area for the critically endangered southeast population of southern right whales.

However, the long-term conservation of the area is under threat due to the planned construction of a mega wind farm project on the coast line of Mar Brava, one of the richest zones of coastal biodiversity in Chile. Although renewable energy resources are a great alternative to reducing the consumption of fossil fuels, they can also have a negative environmental impact if not suitably located.

In November 2013, Centro de Conservatcion Cetacea participated with the International League of Conservation Photographers in documenting the area and biodiversity that would be negatively affected by this project. The work is being used to support a strong public campaign for the relocation of the mega wind farm project, and grant long term protection to the area from industrial development.