Subject: on the job with a marine biologist 2

roman (
Wed, 10 Mar 1999 19:00:30 +0100

>     Dear Joe, Thank you for taking the time to write back to me!  4
>years ago   I went to Cape Cod and on a whale watching cruise I saw  a
> northern right whale.  The marine biologist on the  ship was  very
>excited and said that there were only about 300  left.  The  whale stayed
>by the boat for a long time and kept jumping  up  from the water.     How
>do you take a peice of the whales skin?  Don't they  dive under the
>water?  Does it hurt them when you take a peice of  their skin?   How old
>were you when you decided you wanted to become a  marine  biologist?   I
>liked the site that you told me  about!                               
>From,                          Jennifer Fischer   

Dear Jennifer:

How lucky you were to see a northern right whale!  Not many people get to
see those whales!

Now about darting:  We take a small piece of skin, about the size of a
pencil eraser, with an arrow against the whale's back.  Some whales do dive
under the water when we come up to them, but, with patience, we can usually
approach them without spooking them.

I guess the arrow hurts the whale a little bit, but it's designed to only
strike the surface and is probabaly no worse than a mosquito bite.  Some
whales flinch when we take a sample, and others don't react at all.  But
all the whales usually relax in a short time, so we think that it's mostly
an annoyance to these fifty-ton whales.

Though I've always been interested in the ocean environment, I didn't
decide until late in life that I wanted to be a marine biologist.  I had
worked as a writer and editor for a few years before I began my career as a
biologist--at the ripe old age of 30!

Good luck,


Joseph Roman
University of Florida
Wildlife Ecology and Conservation
PO Box 12253
Gainesville, FL 32604
(352) 379-8096