When Conservation and Science Meet

Eva Hidalgo
Bosun's Mate, The Steve Irwin

Eva Hidalgo testing our new hydrophoneEva Hidalgo testing our new hydrophone
photo: Eliza Muirhead
With a background in Biology and an innate admiration and curiosity for Polar environments, every trip to Antarctica is like an open book for me.

As we head down south, an incredible amount of fauna unfolds, welcoming us to the unique Southern Ocean ecosystem. As the winter ice starts to melt, thousands and thousands of organisms called Krill are freed from underneath the ice, and become the main source of food for all the hungry visitors and inhabitants of Antarctica. From the Oceans over the world, different species of whales travel miles and miles to make sure they don’t miss out on the krill bloom of the season, the feast they have been waiting for all winter.

But there is something more than food waiting for them in their Sanctuary. With their harpoons loaded, the Japanese whaling fleet has also headed south, for the sole purpose of killing more than a thousand wild whales.

Eva Hidalgo, Bosun’s Mate of The Steve IrwinEva Hidalgo, Bosun’s Mate of The Steve Irwin
photo: Tim Watters
And so we sail and here I find myself again, with the duty and the determination of putting my life on the line to protect these whales, to make sure they can feed in peace and go on with their important role in the Ocean.

On every Antarctic campaign, we cover thousands of miles in our pursuit of finding and stopping the illegal whaling fleet. Each and every single day that we sail through the vast Southern Ocean is an opportunity to collect valuable data about the whales’ biology and their ecosystem. Very little is known of this remote and inaccessible area of the planet. Increasing our understanding about the role that whales play in Antarctica is vital for our fight to increase their protection, not just in the Southern Ocean, but all over the world.

Eva explaining our science program to crewEva explaining our science program to crew
photo: Eliza Muirhead
As both a biology student and a determined activist, I believe in science and conservation working side-by-side. What is the purpose of researching an animal, if it is not to protect the species’ destiny itself? What is the purpose of creating a protected area, if nothing is going to be done about whales being slaughtered illegally there?

For Operation Relentless, we will undertake data collection in Antarctica for beneficial research that will hopefully help increase our understanding of this ecosystem in the future; while protecting the whales of the Southern Ocean sanctuary today.

Eva working on deck  photo: Tim WattersEva working on deck
photo: Tim Watters
Operation Toxic Gulf was Sea Shepherd’s first collaborative campaign with Ocean Alliance, where together we investigated the consequences of the 2010 BP Oil spill on the resident marine mammals of the Gulf of Mexico. This Antarctic data collection program is Sea Shepherd’s second collaboration with the organization, who have demonstrated leadership by advancing whale protection through utilization of scientific data. Thanks to the support of our friends from Living Ocean, we have equipped our fleet with instruments that allow us to gather more information about the whales of Antarctica, highlighting the importance of protecting these pristine waters of the world.

I am tired of laws that have meaning only on paper. I am tired of science that exploits the earth. I am tired of murder in the name of “research”.

So today I stand strong with Sea Shepherd, and do my best to protect the whales, Antarctica and its ecosystem. And together with Ocean Alliance and the support of Living Ocean, we hope to bring more understanding and protection to the whales of Antarctica, and to give the word sanctuary real meaning, in the Southern Ocean and in every protected area of the world.

 

Click here to read Eva’s bio.

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Sea ShepherdSea Shepherd is the world's leading direct-action ocean conservation organisation.

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