Changing focus to change the oceans
Julie Reimer (née Hovey) strongly believes that in order to change the oceans, we must first change human behaviour. It was that realization which led her down a new path just six weeks into her graduate studies.
“I began the Masters of Marine Affairs program focusing on fisheries. As I was introduced to a plethora of new ideas and concepts, I became increasingly interested in conservation and the drivers of human behaviour,” she recalls. “I decided to focus on those two topics and it completely changed my direction…for the better.”
And from there, she blossomed.
Since April, as part of the program, Julie has been working with a team of researchers on the WHaLE: Whales, Habitat and Listening Experiment, which is funded by the Marine Environmental Observation Prediction and Response Network (MEOPAR). MEOPAR, located in the Steele Oceans Building, is a team of Canadian scientists meeting the challenges of our changing ocean.
Julie says while the issue itself is complex, it’s also simple: large-ocean cruising vessels hit whales, ultimately injuring or killing them.
“Through my research, we are trying to understand exactly what information mariners need to realistically reduce the risk of vessel strike, in addition to how and when mariners prefer to receive information on whale locations,” says Julie. “This could have a large impact on whale habitats.”
As Julie’s time in the Marine Affairs program comes to a close, she finds herself overwhelmed by the opportunities and experiences she has had.
“Whale research is a privileged field. Having this opportunity as a student will undoubtedly have a huge impact on my future career. Without the support of the Marine Affairs Program and the Sobey Scholarship, I wouldn’t have changed my focus and discovered my passion.”
“The future depends on marine professionals who can understand the complex and integrated relationship that exists between humans and the ocean. Together, Dalhousie and the Sobey Scholarship are leading the charge on that front. As a student who has benefited from this partnership, it has been the most amazing adventure in professional and personal development.”