I sometimes give lectures to people about my life, work, whales and passion. I try to encourage young people (or anyone for that matter), if they have a passion not to give up on it and not to allow anyone else to talk them out of trying to achieve their dream. Although we all know that dream jobs are not always achievable, and encouraging someone too much to think that it will be easy and they can become ‘rich and famous’ if they want to without much hard work is not very helpful, it is also the case that talking people out of going for it and at least trying, in a realistic way is also not great. I don’t really remember how strongly it was suggested I give up studying science at college, however I was certainly not encouraged to continue studying science, even though it was my dream to work with whales and dolphins.
This is me aged around 10, I think, meeting the captive orca Winnie at Windsor Safari Park. I would never advocate captivity now for any cetacean and I am living proof that you do not need to see them in a pool to love them, as I was already madly in love with whales before going here (hence the home made whale jumper and jewellery!). At the time I am ashamed to say I was captivated, but now whale watching is so accessible, there is no excuse for captivity.
So, after graduating from my wonderful, interesting, but slightly not useful in the whale and dolphin world degree in art history, I had to decide what to do next. I was planning on becoming an art restorer! However, my friend Alex decided to go on holiday with her then boyfriend to Massachusetts and she got chatting to an amazing lady, Cynde McInnis, when she went out with Cape Ann Whale Watch. Cynde told her about an internship to volunteer on the boat, teach people about whales and help take data. I started to email poor Cynde regularly, for months, begging to be allowed to come. Little did I know I was months too early but eventually Cynde agreed for me to come, the first foreign intern to undertake her internship. My whale watching was about to begin!
Cynde McInnis, my mentor in whale guiding now has a life-size inflatable humpback whale called The Whalemobile which she takes to schools to teach kids, including a lesson inside the whale! www.thewhalemobile.com