Hey everyone,

My name is Cat and I am from the UK. I have definitely travelled the furthest and with the most complications (good old visa’s and customs!) but it is more that worth it now im here on San Juan Island. It is so beautiful I never want to leave! I am a Zoology graduate from the University of Manchester, and have joined this program to gain research experience, meet new people, travel and of course help save the beautiful Orcas that frequent these water.

This first blog will detail highlights from the first few weeks on land and hopefully the blogs will be more frequent once we are out at sea with the whales we are studying.

The exploring phase

The best things about living at the labs are the hiking trails. Me, Megan, Hana and Garrett have been having a good explore around the area and Garrett even mapped all the runs. We have explored a couple of times and definitely always come back exhausted but happy. They also tend to always go straight for the candy. We have also been testing our rowing skills – which is something i definitely do not excel at! The situation is made even more embarrassing due to the fact that everyone keeps pointing out that the british one should know how to row. Im learning though! The water is amazing at night though, we all love the bioluminescence and jelly fish (as you can see in the picture).

The planning phase

We have all had to think about our individual questions the first week. We went up to lime kiln, to look out over the water and think about our twenty topics of interest. The setting was beautiful and very inspiring. We have also been having lots of mentor meetings and been working on our first proposal drafts. We also have lots of lectures to prepare us for field research and the topics we need to be familiar with on the boat. There has been a few guest lecturers here to, and its so interesting learning about all their research topics and how they got into the field. We all also have to do a service project, which is one day of volunteering. Me and Hana volunteered for Sound watch, which is an amazing non-profit working to help keep people more than 100m from the whales (http://www.whale-museum.org/programs/soundwatch/soundwatch.html). The coolest thing is the long pole they use to pass the leaflets to other boats. It was reall cool to get out on the boat and see the whales!

The having fun phase

We have also been doing lots more fun things. The most memorable being our first experience of sailing. It was so good to get in the boat and learn how to tack! I really enjoyed it. We also had a had a lecture from Captain Paul Watson, which was organised through the whale museum. He is a very inspirational speaker, and had some great stories. The last fun thing i am going to tell you about was the plunge dive (i think you can call it fun!) We had to jump off the docks and swim to the other side to climb out! It was seriously cold, to the point you can’t even speak! Believe me i tried. But if the aim was to teach us not to fall of the boat or tip it, it cartainly worked! It was fun though – in a wierd way.

All in all a great first few weeks, with far too many stories to write in one post! We are now off to sea for two weeks, and im sure this course will continue to be great fun and very inspiring. x x

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