Summary of 2010
Now that the last days have passed by, I feel like I should say something about the year 2010. It has been a critical for Ocean Sounds and it nearly was the last year for our operation. In short all possible things failed, ended or broke down, expected help did not arrive, disappointments and the bad weather and the economical crisis reduced our already bad economy and made it difficult to survive…but there were helping hands and minds and we will be able to continue in 2011!
It all started in Chile, during field work in cooperation with the Scientific Tourism Project of Aysen (http://www.turismocientifico.cl/). We had 4 months of good and productive work with a lot of whales and dolphins, seals and birds in an amazing nature: the fjords and channels of Patagonia in Aysen. However some problems appeared, one captain killed the engine and we floated several hours without contact in deserted channels, fire on board, storms in a sailboat and the terrible and devastating earthquake of Chile. With a good crew and coworkers and friends we managed to get through with it all. However, there was a sight I could not ignore: the enormous expansion and negative impact of the salmon aquaculture farms on the natural environment of Aysen. The environmental destruction was visible everywhere, in form of floating and stranded garbage, the boat traffic, deserted farms and infected fish carcass, unemployed people with alcohol and violence problems, noise and chemical pollution… we decided to publish this in Nature Correspondence (nature465-17-june-2010), It was my duty as a scientist to report this matter for other scientists and politicians to act. It had a great impact, the media published it worldwide and scientists from Chile and Insurance companies from Norway contacted me. I hope this brought light into a rather dark part of the Chilean industry and politics. By introducing sustainable tourism, we hope to change the way people and nature can live together in this beautiful and remote place of the world. We have done our first step in creating sustainable marine wildlife tourism in Aysen, next year we will introduce it to tourists. Come and support our project!
Then back in Norway I had to move Ocean Sounds to a new location, unfortunately I lost the old center and had to start all over again. Without helping hands and friends, I would not have had the heart and motivation to renovate a new center and office. But people arrived and helped to swing a brush or installed electricity and so on, and we could reopen in June. Moving the company cost additional money, which we did not have, so I was hoping for a good tourist season. The tourists came, but the bad weather as well. The tourists left again (some disappointed) but the bad weather stayed until September. We had to cancel more than 60% of our tours, because we need flat sea to find the whales in our small boat. The financial situation became worse every day and on top of all, the boat engine started to have problems, the hydrophone and the car broke down…it was definitely one of these years that challenged my idealism and motivation…but then when all looked dark and even people that promised help turned their backs on me, two other doors open, one man gave a great donation and a friend gave me a private loan to be able to pay the bank loan. Ocean Sounds was saved in the last minute!!
During the summer months we managed to find whales and birds we have never seen before as well as old friends, again we found matches of pilot whale groups in the Vestfjord, these findings indicate that the same whales visit us every year.
We had several media coverage both for the salmon problem in Chile as well as the whaling issue in Norway, in addition the Lonely Planet Magazine published an article in their April issue, the German TV ARD made a small documentary and the German magazine Outdoor will publish an article in the January issue. I went to one conference and discussed the problem of noise in the sea (TAS, www.aquadyne.no, Oslo) and participated in a 3 week art exhibition in Oslo: gentle actions to discuss the interaction of whales and humans ( http://gentleactions.wordpress.com). We were several whale activists from different back grounds and the event was a great success.
Out of this we will organize a small festival in Henningsvaer 1-7th of August 2011 to support the life of nature, especially the marine environment with its great whales and dolphins.
Scientific publications 2010:
We published a Nature correspondence (nature465-17-june-2010), a joint article on Bottlenose abundance in South Pacific (Aqu.Mamm.2010, 36(3), 288-293, pdf-tursiops-2010) and a joint article with Andy Foote et.al., on the genetic differentiation among North Atlantic killer whale populations (Mol.Ecol.2010, pdf-foote-et-al-2010).
The small research fund from the WWF gave a starting tip, then again the application for a research fund from the Northern Norwegian council was denied without reason, equipment broke down and the weather turned bad…all critical challenges, but with the help of friends and good people we managed to continue and we will go on to the next year! But we need your help for 2011!
For 2011 we plan:
Open the center 18th of April and start giving lectures and show our NEW slide show! You can call or write us an email in advance, or just come by when you are in Henningsvaer.
Marine Wildlife-tours will be offered later, we keep you updated for more details. We have to change our routines for the marine wildlife-tours because of our research project and we will not be able to take as many people with us as the years before. Please write an email for booking, unfortunately we will not be able to accept day tourists anymore.
Visit PakeaBizkaia 16-23th of January in Bilbao, Spain. I will visit the people from the PakeaBizkaia project (www.pakeabizkaia.com/en) and we will organize a small conference with talk, films and discussion rounds. I will post more information later.
Whale festival 1-7th of August: open festival in Henningsvaer with different programs from artists, scientists and tour operators. The Program will be announced here in a few months. The festival aims to promote awareness of the beauty of whales, especially pilot whales and learn about their lives and, our interaction with them.
I hope you like our work and will continue to support us and we will always welcome you in the north!!
THANK you all for your great support and good wishes….
I wish you all a happy New Year with many dreams to come true!
biologist & founder of Ocean Sounds