A Day in the Life of a Whale Researcher
Anjali Narasimhan, VG19, shares a first-person account of studying humpback whales in the remote wilderness of southeast Alaska
I woke up in the wee hours of the morning to the musical melodies of songbirds chirping away and the boisterous barks and grunts of sea lions in the distance. I crawled out of my cozy sleeping bag and exited my tent into the brisk Alaskan air. The sun never really sleeps there in the summer—and neither does the wildlife, which was one of the great pleasures of sleeping outside on the roof of a boat.
It was the summer of 2019, and I was completing my M.S. in Conservation Medicine degree at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. I spent my externship assisting the Alaska Whale Foundation with their ongoing research projects examining the health and behavior of humpback whales in Southeast Alaska.
Whales are among the largest and most intelligent species to inhabit this earth. I have always been drawn to these enigmatic creatures and stunned by their unparalleled beauty. Although populations have begun to recover following the moratorium of commercial whaling, whales globally continue to face threats from vessel-strikes, harassment, habitat deterioration, entanglement in fishing gear and marine debris, and declining prey availability.