Dana Bloch ’17

“I have had a passion for cetaceans, particularly humpbacks, since I was young: my earliest memory of appreciating whales off of Cape Cod is from the age of seven.” Those memories have motivated Dana Bloch’s ’17 academic study of “the connections between oceanography, marine organisms, and the environment,” as well as her interest in organizations that research and educate the public on these issues. When an opportunity to conduct field work in the Cook Islands with the Center for Cetacean Research and Conservation arose, Dana knew that their focus on public policy advocacy and education surrounding whales and other cetaceans aligned with her own personal goals.

Working with fellow researchers, Dana recorded whale song and collected tracking data for each whale sighting, including geographic coordinates, photographs, and skin samples for genetic analysis. When not conducting research, Dana collaborated with other team members to maintain their boat and equipment. As Dana discovered, “Working in the field doing scientific research is a challenge, as you must be patient with weather, animals, equipment, and other scientists.”

Dana only spent seven weeks with the Center, and “it was challenging to be in a place in which high-level research and policy creation occur, but to only be there long enough to catch a glimpse of the mechanics.” However, despite its brevity, “working here has solidified my interest in pursuing graduate school and encourages me to find a place where research, policy, and education of the public are integrated, as they should be for a healthier ocean and earth.”