Thank you for a great Sunday!

FullSizeRender

Minutes before the doors opened and people started packing the La Feliz room

Thanks to Susy Honig for this photo of me doing my Science Sunday talk on the 19th of July

Thanks to Susy Honig for this photo of me doing my Science Sunday talk on the 19th of July

image2

My favorite kind of room – a packed one!

Thank you once again to the Seymour Marine Discovery Centre for inviting me to speak to an amazingly engaged audience who exuded lots of great energy. I always enjoy telling stories about the ocean and my unorthodox life but it helps when the room is packed and the audience, keen.

Thank you to everyone who attended, asked questions and stayed behind to have a chat. Engaging people and helping them understand the importance of the oceans is a key part of what I do and you all made it so much easier!

Keep following!

Help me on my quest this Sunday

Photo credit Steve de Neef

Photo credit Steve de Neef

Help me on my quest to ignite the world’s ocean passion by rallying at my Science Sunday talk on The Unorthodox Whales at the Seymour Marine Discovery Centre in Santa Cruz this Sunday (19th July) at 1 pm! Click on this link for the details http://seymourcenter.ucsc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/SS_AshaV_PSTR1.pdf

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Exciting interview with The Legacy Project

Such a privilege to have been interviewed by The Legacy Project (check out the other profiles!). In their own words ‘The Legacy Project is an initiative that hopes to inspire you through providing you with unlimited access to extraordinary individuals, each of whom have achieved Greatness in their own, unique and varying form. Each person who we interview and profile provides you with a different viewpoint, as well as different lessons to learn from.’

I hope this interview will help inspire youth from all over the world to dream BIG because nothing is ever too big!

You can read my whole interview here: http://thelegacyproject.co.za/asha-de-vos-interview-marine-biologist-educator/

Happy Mother Earth Day! 

Happy Mother Earth Day to all of you!! What better way than to celebrate with this photograph of a humpback and blue whale feeding in the same area off Monterey Bay! Having worked with and seen lots of blues and humpbacks in different parts of the world I was super excited when I saw them in the same space. We had spent the morning surrounded by common dolphins and humpbacks and the latter seemed so big…that’s until the blue whales turned up! After that the whale-watchers kept mistaking the humpies for dolphins! Perspective is an incredible thing – even I was marvelling at the sheer size of these giants I am so privileged to work with. (Super hard to get both giants fully in the same frame) 

 

Good Krill* Hunting

Here at The Sri Lankan Blue Whale Project we are interested in the holistic picture. While our primary study species is the Northern Indian Ocean pygmy blue whale we get excited when we see all marine life, whale poo or even tiny shrimp-like creatures! Here is yet another sneak peek into our fun lives off southern Sri Lanka. I want to thank my 2015 field team for all their fabulous work and great attitude throughout the season, and particularly Holly for putting this little gem together! Through this series of videos (starting in 2013: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCf-iI1ECdQqENt3MB3en52Q) we try to give you a glimpse into our lives and show you that the world is your oyster, as long as you are fuelled by curiosity! Please enjoy and share – you might help inspire the next generation of ocean heroes :)

Big thanks to the Department of Wildlife Conservation in Sri Lanka for their continuous support and research permits for our work. The 2015 field season was made possible by The Marisla Foundation, Packard Endowment Grant for Science and Technology, The Marine Conservation Action Fund of the New England Aquarium, and all those amazing people who funded us through our OpenExplorer crowd-funding campaign (http://ashadevos.com/?page_id=448)!

Uncommon whaleshark sighting off southern Sri Lanka!

Whaleshark off southern Sri Lanka

Friendly whaleshark off southern Sri Lanka

My number one mantra to all my students is “when working on the ocean, always expect the unexpected”. So far, I’ve been right every single day! Never more right than two days ago when we were 50 km offshore in 2 m swell and sea state 4 waters. This little fella (6-8 feet) approached us and just hung around our stopped boat for an hour! As it turns out sightings of juvenile whalesharks are rare because no one knows where the pupping grounds are. So location details of sightings like this and any others (we’ve seen 2 others this season) are super valuable to researchers. No fear, we will be passing on these details to the cool folks at the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences. All I have to say for now is – incredible sighting in crystal clear waters ~ so damn lucky! #fieldwork #slblues #weligama#srilanka #whaleshark #ocean #gifts #precious #cute #bff

That day we found an oil slick….

Oil slick in the shipping lane

Oil slick in the shipping lane

It was one of those days ~ we had been out at sea for a very long time. It was getting late and we had to get back in. As we kept chugging forward towards shore I was hanging off the starboard side looking for signs of life. I stared for hours over a silky smooth sea hoping that something would crack the surface and exhale… that towering familiar exhalation I have grown accustomed to seeing. In the distance I could see a dark patch on the water. At first I thought it was the shadow of the clouds but as we got closer I realised it was an oil slick. It was reasonably sized and lay in the middle of the shipping lane. I realise that this photo is pretty rubbish because we had to keep moving without stopping for a photo shoot, but I took it because I wanted to remind everyone of all the other human activities that threaten our oceans…..Ships hit whales, they are the cause of oil slicks and the source of a lot of noise. Most importantly, since ninety percent of everything is shipped, we are all to blame. That’s why my current work looks at ways to make small changes that will help to protect our ocean life better!

More lessons from the field team

Just another beautiful sunset framed by an incoming storm

Just another beautiful sunset framed by an incoming storm

I am a little late posting these but here are two more pieces by my interns Nathasha Chandrasekeran and Holly Wetherall.

Nathasha:

Working for the Sri Lankan Blue Whale Project has been a truly unique experience and just within the first week, valuable lessons have been learnt. As an intern, duties in the field include scanning for marine mammals, recording data on sightings, weather and ongoing efforts. Duties at the end of the field day include cleaning equipment, transferring field notes and records to digital datasheets, organization and storage of digital pictures of sighted specimens. The responsibilities are varied and all play an important role in the efficient and smooth running of the project. I have learnt new skills such as identifying marine mammals in usually less than ideal conditions. Other lessons have been reinforced: The virtue of patience, the understanding that no data is still data, how vital communication is for team work. These are just a few and I am sure the remaining days of the internship will come with many more teachings. Every day is a reminder of the vastness, the beauty and the power of the ocean and I am eager to learn all I can from it.

Holly:

I have been an intern at the Sri Lankan Blue Whale project for just over a week now. Having spent hours looking out over the ocean off southern Sri Lanka, I have learnt some important lessons about life in the field.

One of the key lessons learnt so far is to expect the unexpected!

Today was our 9th day out on the water, what stared as a bit of a deflating morning turned out to be one of our most successful days yet. As we set off the sky was overcast and the swell quite choppy, so our chances of making any sightings were limited. Having carried out a transect line and a few hours of searching, we started to head back to land feeling a little disappointed. However, as we approached the coastline we sighted a mother and calf pair of Bryde’s whales, and to our delight they were also feeding! We managed to get some fantastic photos for identification, collect essential weather and location data and even collect samples of tiny shrimp-like creatures that they may have been feeding on!

This is just one of the amazing sightings that really show how anything can happen out in the ocean. It also shows how important it is to be prepared for absolutely anything; whether it’s having your recording equipment at the ready, your data sheets open or simply keeping our eyes focused on the ocean constantly ready for our next sighting!