The Doctor’s (not) in (yet): Conferences and Seals - Preparing for Phase 2

It’s spring here in NZ which means that I am about to get myself into the next adventure for data collection. You may now think: Huh? Data collection? She literally just came back from the field…

And yeah, I feel the same but since I am investigating three different sites I’m kind of in and out all the time. I have 1.5 weeks left to prepare for my next trip which won’t be exactly like my prior one to Niue. This time it’s getting exciting right away as I’ll stop by in Tasmania to attend the Wildlife Tourism Australia conference where I will introduce my topic to wildlife tourism folks. I’m a member since February and it’s my first topical conference. The other ones I’ve been to were more general, either focussing on marine tourism or even broader, discussing topics around tourism and hospitality. The upcoming conference is also special as it is not a purely scientific one. Tour operators and educators will also attend and I think this will be a pretty good mix. Especially in wildlife tourism, that involves so many different stakeholders, this is quite important when discussing new findings. There will be a more in-depth blog post on that one later and hopefully some insights into the marine life of Tassie…

Phase 2 will actually be hitting off in Kaikoura, NZ’s marine wildlife tourism capital. I’ve been visiting Kaikoura 5 years ago and I am all excited to now being able to spend more time in this special place. I’ll keep on working with marine mammals, or people who want to interact with them, but this time I’ll focus on seals. My data collection in Kaikoura will also give me the opportunity to introduce you to the different tour operators in town, as I plan to go from theory more into practice myself.  As always, HOA will join me as well, so between interviews we may have plenty of time to get personal with Kaikoura’s marine life.

When I’m back it will stay busy as my abstract just got accepted to be presented at the Oceans & Islands conference hosted by the New Zealand Institute for Pacific Research! I’ll talk about the importance of marine wildlife tourism for Pacific Island destinations, with special focus on the swim encounters with humpback whales in Niue (in loving memory of Phase 1!). So if you happen to be in Auckland over the 29th and 30th of November, stop by and say Hi!

I can say all PhD lives are kind of busy. However, I do have colleagues who stay in town for their whole research process and when it comes to conferences it also depends whether you want to expose yourself and your research. Speaking as an introvert, it’s not a must. Speaking as a researcher, I think you should! Because how are people learning about the stuff you’re doing? In most cases, in the end your research will be read by four people: Your two supervisors and the two examiners. That’s a pretty limited audience for 3 years of work! I’ve also just completed another guest lecture for postgrads, speaking about the facets of marine wildlife tourism which helps me to stay up to date with the basics and to become a more confident speaker. Because is there something scarier than students looking at their phones while you talk? Probably not ;) Plus, by year two, you definitely know your sh*t.

Let’s see how it goes *dramatic music intensifies*

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