Seeing a whale up close and personal inspires people to conserve our oceans and in turn protect the worlds whales like nothing else can. The simple act of seeing a whale leaping from the water or a dolphin surfing in a boats wake arises a feeling in people for which there are no words to accurately describe.
Personally, I know that seeing marine life face to face as a kid, whether it was at the local aquarium or on a whale watch, had a profound impact on the adult I’ve grown up to be. Over the years what started as a Sunday trip to an aquarium with my family transformed into a career in marine science. Funny how things work out like that. Looking back I realize that I was pretty fortunate growing up. Many people don’t have access to science museums, aquariums, whale watches, or even a back yard from which to launch youthful explorations of our natural world. It’s a proven fact that simple exposure to nature can foster a personal connection to our environment and it’s for that reason I’m proud to be a part of IFAW’s Floating Classroom program. It’s through this program that we work with schools to incorporate whale watching as an effective educational experience. Floating Classrooms is primarily focused on the Caribbean where there is a growing whale watching industry and tremendous interest in protecting whales for the important economic value of eco-tourism.
I’m writing this as I head to the small Island nation of Dominica where I plan to work with teachers incorporating the floating classrooms program into their curriculum. If there is one thing I enjoy doing, it’s talking to kids about whales. This is certainly going to be a hectic trip but I’m hoping to leave behind a terrific resource that affords an opportunity to inspire the next generation of ocean stewards to protect whales.