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El Salvador whale watching workshop

Empowering communities through responsible whale watching

Miguel Iñíguez Miguel is WDC's research fellow based in Argentina. Seeing whales and dolphins in...
Busy Japanese city

WDC in Japan – Part 6: Lessons learnt

Katrin Matthes Katrin is WDC's communications and campaigns officer for policy & communication in Germany...
Help Michelin change the course

We’re working with Michelin to take whales off the menu

Julia Pix Julia Pix is WDC's head of engagement. She delivers our public campaigns and...
Baird's beaked whale © Robert Pitman

Beaked whales have culture, too

Erich Hoyt Erich is WDC's research fellow. He works to protect areas of the ocean...
Humpback whale playing with kelp

Why do humpback whales wear seaweed wigs?

Alison Wood Ali is WDC's education projects coordinator. She is the editor of Splash! and KIDZONE,...
Japanese whaling ship

WDC in Japan – Part 5: The meaning of whaling

Katrin Matthes Katrin is WDC's communications and campaigns officer for policy & communication in Germany...
Risso's dolphins off the Isle of Lewis, Scotland

Unravelling the mysteries of Risso’s dolphins – WDC in action

Nicola Hodgins Nicola is WDC's cetacean science coordinator. She leads our long-term Risso's dolphin research...
Save the whale save the world on a tv in a meeting room.

Saving whales in boardrooms and on boats

Abbie Cheesman Abbie is WDC's head of strategic partnerships. She works with leading businesses to...

Representing the whales and dolphins of the South Pacific

Posted on behalf of Samanunu Simpson

What’s next?! Were the thoughts lingering in my head when I had finished my Bachelor of Marine Science degree in the year 2010. It’s quite difficult getting your dream job when you’re in a place where work opportunities are limited and you don’t have much experience to get you started. Inspite of the challenges faced I still had hope and believed that something greater was coming my way.

I got to meet Dr Cara Miller and learned more about her work with WDC in the Pacific region during the Fiji Humpback Whale Survey in 2011. Dr Cara Miller’s talks on whales and dolphin really inspired me as a young scientist to learn more about these amazing creatures, their cultural importance to the land/ocean and the significance of their conservation. Weeks after the whale survey projects, I wrote to Dr Miller stating that I was interested in her ongoing spinner dolphin project at Moon Reef Tailevu, Fiji.  A couple of weeks later, I received a response to that email with the subject “MASTER’S RESEARCH”. Honestly, I was at shock because never in my wildest dream I thought I’d pursue a master’s degree in marine science. I went over to meet Dr Cara a few days later; we spoke about the spinner dolphin research at Moon Reef and she advised that I’d be carrying out studies on the acoustic communication patterns of the resident pod of spinners that visit Moon Reef daily.

Research at Moon Reef has been great, I began my Masters research in October, 2012 and I’m now on my last phase which is the thesis write up. I was informed early this year that I was the first recipient of the WDC Bharathi Viswanathan Award for Innovative and Non Invasive Research, winning an award like this is such an honor. None of this would have been made possible without the help of this award, I hope to inspire and encourage young researchers to be agents of change in their individual fields of study.  

I guess the icing on the cake for me was being asked by Dr Cara to attend and present my research poster at the 20th Biennial Conference on the biology of marine mammals. The experience here in Dunedin is incredible, this has been an eye opening experience, one that I will never forget and I’d like to thanks WDC and the rest of my sponsors for this great opportunity. Just networking with the other young and old scientists, getting to know more about acoustic monitoring, sharing and learning from each other’s experiences, is enough to grasp.

This is my first international conference and it’s a privilege to be the only representative from the South Pacific. I will surely take with me all that I’ve learnt from this conference and share it with my fellow researchers back at home. Professor Mark Orams, mentioned something very powerful in one of his talks yesterday that really struck me and I truly believe it to be a take home message for me, “Remember what attracted you to this field, it is that passion that has brought you this far, avoid arrogance, the more you give the more you will receive, you are the future of marine mammal science, so keep that passion for marine mammals alive”. Being a representative from the South Pacific I believe that this message needs to be heard and I want to be that voice.

Vinaka Vakalevu,

Samanunu Simpson