I describe myself as a well travelled whale freak who likes taking photos
I was born in South Africa but brought up in the UK. From as far back as I can remember I have wanted to work with whales since I saw a picture of one on television when I was about seven. After graduating from university with an entirely unrelated degree because I was told I would never be able to work with whales, I started chasing this dream by taking a different path; actual experience rather than academic qualifications.
Volunteering on a whale watch then on various whale research projects around the world I learned how to take field data, deal with sea-sickness (almost) and gained knowledge and experience. This included working with humpback whales in the USA, gray whales in Mexico and blue whales in Australia.
My big break was spending over two years sailing on a research boat, ‘Odyssey‘ which sailed around the world studying pollution levels in the ocean using samples from sperm whales. Owned by Dr Roger Payne, one of the scientists who ‘discovered’ and first described humpback song, Odyssey was, at the time, a state-of-the-art whale research vessel. Roger was one of my childhood heroes, one of the first people to study live whales, instead of dead ones, and on almost every whale TV show and in every whale book I had ever owned since the age of 7. I was onboard in the Galapagos Islands, Australia, in the Seychelles and sailed across the Atlantic from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean on Odyssey. These incredible open-ocean adventures changed my life forever. I got to meet some inspirational whale scientists, learn about taking data, see for myself some of the wonders of the ocean and also some of the immense harm humanity is doing to the lifeblood of our planet.
Since those first days as a volunteer over twenty years ago I have whale watched off every continent, seeing over thirty species in some of the remotest places that remain on our beautiful planet.
During the last decade I have worked as a whale watching guide in Iceland, Norway, South Africa, Mexico and Antarctica. Despite going on over 6000 whale watching trips my passion for these incredible animals remains as strong as it was when I was a seven year old.
I feel we are doing the whales a strong disservice even when undertaking responsible whale watching if we do not teach people about the animals when on the water. I hope that through my passion, enthusiasm and knowledge I give something back to the whales in helping educate passengers when they are on a boat with me.
I am aware my work life is travel dependent and there is an environmental impact that this travel has. As well as carbon offsetting, not having children, being vegetarian and trying to consume as little as I can, I hope that the education I provide to people on the natural world and our collective impact on it goes some way to compensate.
Having studied art, I now find my art in my photography and I hope my images give you some inspiration and joy in this difficult time we find ourselves in.