My name is Jake Parker. I am a photographer and videographer from Cameras for Conservation and as well as being a photographer on the Living Ocean Whale Research team.
Being a member of this team is truly an honour. After spending the past two summers as a camera operator with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society defending whales and toothfish from poachers in the Southern Ocean, I find myself once again defending the whales; this time not from harpoons but from what many people like to call progress.
As the hand of society reaches further beyond and deeper below some of the most basic and valuable things on this planet are truly being ignored. In this movement of “progress” many beings are suffering and whales are just one of those beings. As many have said before we seem to have forgotten that we are a part of nature, not separate from it, the oceans and the forests, the lungs of the planet are being destroyed by this “progress.”
The value of the research that Living Ocean is doing is immense. For example, by mapping the routes the whales take during their migration, we will seek to stop any industry from attempting to introduce activities that will threaten the whales as they make this grueling journey.
Photographing these whales onboard the Living Ocean research vessel as they migrate north, I like to think is a way to not only show everyone how amazing they are but also to get the word out that the harpoons are not the only danger that humans pose to these beautiful beings.
Saturday dawned bright and clear. Blue skies, light wind and minimal swell. A most perfect day to be out on the Ocean. The Living Ocean Marine research team led by Bill Fulton met on board MV SALT for our Humpback Whale Migration Research trial run and were thrilled when skipper Mark Farrell announced it was a perfect day to look for whales, so training would continue offshore.
And what a brilliant call it was. As we headed out to the open ocean we came across 2 New Zealand fur seals basking in the sunshine and not long after we heard the call we’d all been waiting for. Whales ahead!!
And so began our exhilirating enchanting glorious encounter with three curious humpback whales. Always mindful to keep the distance that our research licence permits us, we observed in awe and wonder as the whales swam, ahead, behind and then towards us. We were squealing in delight as one whale spy hopped, just checking us out I guess!! Our onboard photographers captured some amazing images and our researchers were able to collect valuable data as they trialled the tracking system and behavioural iPhone/iPad application program designed by Bill.
It was a brilliant day for all of us so fortunate to be onboard. The dry run was highly successful in ironing out a fewtechnical issues and revealing some great new data recorders. We look forward to furthering our Ocean Marine Research work over the next few months as the great whales migrate past our shores.