Monday, October 25, 2004

24 years of harbor seal observations

24 years worth of notes, observations and photographs make a very large pile. If I stacked all my notebooks and albums on top of each other it would be more than 6' tall. Here they all sit in my office, threatening, like those National Geographic magazines in the attic, to collapse the floor with their weight. I have made many attempts to write a book but end up feeling stilted and isolated... I am not a writer by choice anymore than I am a computer geek or blogger. They are tools.

In that six feet of words and pictures there are stories, stories about seals that I have watched for eight years or more, stories about humpback whales that have captured my heart, stories about how I ended up spending most of my adult life doing this. And they aren't doing any good making my office floor groan... so here goes.

I will upload some of my past writing attempts, and work on them here, in effort to find a voice. I will upload pictures of my buddies: BB2, Honcho, Stevie Wonder (blind female) harbor seals that came regularly to a haulout off Kennebunkport and tell their stories. There is Fissure, Olympia, Tusk and Talon, humpback whales that we met repeatedly when I was working as naturalist on a whale watch boat. I will tell the stories of those encounters in my other blog "whaletales


I hope people will ask me questions and give suggestions to help me clarify what and how I say things. I hope other naturalists who are doing long term studies of an animal species will add their thoughts. Jane Goodall has been my inspiration and I dedicate this blog to her.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Resume of my adult life

Timeline of how I got from there to here. (Vermont teaching nursery school-->Maine studying seals)

1960-72
- studied anthropology in college
- Married, worked with my 1st husband in VISTA (Domestic Peace Corp) at Santo Domingo Pueblo
- had a son and learned to mother... a full time job

1972- 1978
- got a masters in early childhood education and taught nursery school
- read Amos and Boris (William Steig) aloud to my son: the story about a mouse who is rescued by a whale and returns the favor.
- began to read all I could about whales, first in response to the nursery school kids fascination and then it bloomed into a fascination of my own
- went to a whale symposium in Bloomington Indiana (1973), the first gathering of marine mammal researchers and whale watch boat operators plus artists teachers and whale protection advocates
- agumented the whale curriculum from the symposium and brought it to my students plus several schools in Vermont.
- spent two weeks on the Regina Maris with Earthwatch, studying humpback whales on banks north of the Dominican Republic.
- and 6 weeks in the Bering Sea with NOAHH doing a Bowhead Whale survey
- went back to graduate school in Environmental Education

1978-88
- divorced and moved to Maine where I worked for SALT teaching environmental education to teenagers "at risk"
- a lobsterman introduced me to the Strawberry Island seal haul out when I ran out of field trip ideas for my students.
- the SALT program folded (government funds withdrawn), and I continued observations on my own for the next 8 years.
- during the summer of 1986 and 1987 I worked as naturalist on a whale watch boat out of Kennebunkport, my son spent one of those summers as first mate on the boat which made even richer an already amazing experience.

1988-present
- my second husband and I moved to downeast Maine and I started observing a second group of seals. This haulout is very different from the one in Kennebunkport:
- K'portt faced into open ocean, here ... a well protected bay.
- K'port used year round, here ...used from May through August
- K'port a mix of males and females with only a few pups seen each year, here ...a pupping ledge, the population is mostly female.