Last week I got an e-mail from a student in South America who wanted to join the Rapunzel Project field team for the summer of 2014; I get these from time to time. I try to respond to everyone who e-mails me, but admittedly sometimes putting the words “we do not currently have plans for a 2014 field season” down in an e-mail is tough for me.
Particularly since the research isn’t done.
Before I became a biologist (a term that I only now feel I can fully begin to embrace) when I imagined research I saw boats, and radios, laboratories and beakers, and heated conversations among colleagues- who may or may not have been shouting “Eureka” from time to time. What I didn’t see in my imagination was the days, weeks, and months on the calendar that it takes to see a project from start to finish.
The Rapunzel Project field portion is over for now. I can confidently tell you that the data is processed and we know a lot more about humpback whale vocal behavior than we did when we began putting the project on paper in 2010! Even though the first manuscript is drafted and conferences are in the works (I’ll see you in San Francisco Acoustical Society), the research still isn’t over.
There’s another manuscript in process. I’m still poring over the numbers and finding results that Andy I debate lively (I’m still waiting to hear the words Eureka come out of his mouth…. not yet). While it may have taken a few years to figure out what the whales were saying it will take a least a few more weeks yet to put these call types into a social context. So yes, the sexy part is over. I’m no longer in danger of running out of water, or watching Noble Steed drift out to see. But the drama hasn’t stopped- it’s just grown subtle. This part has to be done privately.
I’m happy to announce, however, that AWF’s commitment to education has only intensified since the Rapunzel Project started. AWF’s newest branch is the Southeast Alaska Coastal Research and Education Center (CREC), which will be centered out of Warms Springs Bay, AK on the eastern shore of Baranof Island. A campaign is underway to bring the CREC up and running so AWF can continue to conduct important research, offer comprehensive education experiences, and engage the greater community of Southeast Alaska and our visitors. Check out how things are going and see how you can get involved at the CREC website:
As always thanks for checking in!