Our staff profile series continues with a world-renowned authority on the planet’s largest animal.
Richard was born in Paris to a French mother and an American father. At eighteen, he took part in a oceanographic training expedition aboard a schooler between Puerto Rico and Boston. It was on this trip that he encountered whales for the first time; the rest, as they say, is history.
He completed his studies in marine biology in 1976 and went on to work for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution at the Matamek research station in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Later, he would become the onboard naturalist for whale-watching vessels in Massachusetts and work alongside, in his words, the “pioneers of whale research”—his greatest sources of inspiration. Formidable intellects, scientists and researchers with names like Sergeant, Katona, Schevill, Watkins, and Payne, helped Richard realize that the best way to know whales is to spend as much time with them as possible. As much time at sea as possible.
With this philosophy in mind, Richard was motivated to return to Matamek and Mingan; in 1979, he did just that, and established the Mingan Island Cetacean Study (MICS). MICS is a non-profit research organization dedicated to the ecological study of marine mammals and ecosystems—the first organization to conduct long-term research in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the first organization to carry out long-term studies of the endangered blue whale. In addition to its extensive research mandate, MICS invites public participation and encourages interested parties to join the team and learn field techniques and contribute to research. This approach, called ‘research tourism’, affords participants the opportunity to work closely with teams of experienced field biologists and help understand these magnificent creatures and their environments.
Richard will be joining the Adventure Canada team in 2015, bringing his considerable expertise and unique research perspectives to bear on our Mighty Saint Lawrence expedition—our first adventure of the season. Richard will be sharing his passion for the study of marine mammals aboard the Ocean Endeavour with a number of exciting talks and seminars, as well as helping us keep watch for the giants of the deep on deck and out in our fleet of trusty Zodiacs. We are thrilled to have him aboard and look forward to seeing one of the world’s foremost marine biologists in action!
You can join Richard and the MICS team for an exciting event in just two weeks time, in Montreal. The first annual MICS fundraiser, La grande bleu, will be kicking off with an exciting roster of speakers at the Montreal Biodome. Participants will be able to learn about the exciting work done by the Study, enjoy musical presentations, and spend the evening with marine mammal experts with experience from the St. Lawrence to the Arctic and Antarcitc—as well as Iceland, western Greenland, the Azores, Norway, and French Polynesia. Highlights include a silent auction and a storytelling session, and all proceeds will directly support MICS and its field station as well as education programs. More information is available at the MICS website.
Please join us in welcoming Richard to the Adventure Canada team for what is sure to be an exciting and enthralling expedition!