Humpbacks and High-Rises
There’s a lot more to studying at university than hitting the books. The importance of gaining hands-on experience, in addition to your theoretical knowledge, can be the key factor in helping you stand out to employers once you graduate. Griffith University offer many options of Work Integrated Learning (WIL) to students. Read on to learn about one marine science student’s experiences surveying whales on the Gold Coast.
A love of science and the environment
I’ve wanted to be a marine scientist since I was five years old, always dreaming of being able to combine my passions for the environment and my love for science. Leaving high school, it can be daunting to follow the path of science and challenging to decide where you may want it to lead.
“From land-based surveys, to catching whale snot, I can’t get enough of it! I have learnt so much about cetacean ecology and conservation throughout the many opportunities provided by Humpbacks and High-rises.”
Eager for hands-on experiences
When I started my marine biology degree at Griffith University, I was eager to do more, to gain some hands-on experience, and to get involved with research. I was luckily put into contact with Dr Olaf Meynecke from Humpbacks and High-rises, a non-profit research organisation committed to the protection of marine mammals in South East Queensland. To me, it was unbelievable that I was able to interact with such incredible creatures and contribute to research at the same time. It was the perfect fuel for my burning ambitions, allowing me to fully immerse myself in my chosen career path.
From land-based surveys, to catching whale snot, I can’t get enough of it! I have learnt so much about cetacean ecology and conservation throughout the many opportunities provided by Humpbacks and High-rises. They have established citizen-science based projects alongside sophisticated research to gain a better understanding of the Gold Coast’s most popular winter/spring visitors (the Humpback whales, of course!). Through collecting data for over 10 years, Humpbacks and High-rises have contributed to multiple scientific publications concerning the conservation, climate change responses and migratory success of whales passing through the Gold Coast bay. This not only provides knowledge and understanding but encourages the changes in policy required for the assured conservation of marine mammals long into the future.
“It is moments like this in research that you find purpose in your path and ignite that childhood passion that steered you towards science in the first place.”
Finding your purpose and path
It is so rewarding to be able to contribute to something that protects such a vital player in ocean health. One of the most valuable experiences I get from volunteering is the opportunity for public outreach. By sharing the importance of cetaceans for our oceans, and creating unforgettable whale-human interactions, we can inspire other people to care and take action.
I have been blessed with so many incredible experiences through Humpbacks and High-rises, yet nothing beats the humbling experience of being meters away from one of the largest and most majestic animals on this planet. It is moments like this in research that you find purpose in your path and ignite that childhood passion that steered you towards science in the first place.
Joining Humpbacks and Hi-rises
You too can be involved in whale research, through land and boat-based surveys, or by coming along to one of our research expeditions!
Humpacks and Hi-rises contact details