Who I am
Inspired as a child by television programs highlighting the work of Jacques Cousteau, I made it a goal to one day find a career that put me in close contact with marine mammals, specifically dolphins. Through my studies in psychology and animal behavior, I realized that I was intrigued by the scientific basis of conditioning behavior and the ability to shape relationships through positive influences. Combining these two interests, led me to a 30-year career working closely with marine mammals in zoological settings. It was through these daily encounters with whales and dolphins that I strengthened my knowledge and gained greater understanding of their physiology and husbandry care. Since my initial encounter with Hvaldimir, a trained solitary beluga living in an open water setting, I have been stimulated to seek to make an even greater impact on cetaceans whose welfare is compromised based on challenging environmental conditions.
Where I work
I am currently a free-lance marine mammal welfare consultant living in France. My work allows me to travel all over the world to use my knowledge and experience to assist animals and their care givers to optimize their welfare conditions. After learning about Hvaldimir’s arrival in the Port of Hammerfest, Norway, I joined the initial team looking after his care and assisted with the implementation of a feeding and husbandry program to stabilize his deteriorating body condition. Once he had learned to eat on his own, we continued to monitor his location and assess his body condition. Since May 2019, I have traveled to Norway numerous times and continue to follow his whereabouts and behaviour through the assistance of local observers and our dedicated team.
What I do
Based on Hvaldimir’s continued interest in interacting with humans, he seems to display a social need which he is unable to fulfil through social interactions with conspecifics. These close encounters, specifically those with boats and people unaware of inadvertent negative behavior, have put him in dangerous situations. Through the support of this grant from Save Our Seas Foundation, I am continuing to create a network of people from different backgrounds, interests and expertise to help assess the possibility of providing greater protection to this solitary, trained beluga and potentially seek to relocate him to a group of belugas that can fulfill his social needs. In the process, we will continue to monitor his behavior and physical condition, and seek to educate the general public about his species and the environmental threats to the conservation of whales and dolphins in Norway.