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Whales in classrooms, oh my!

Technology and a B.C. company help bring Antarctic science and research to students at their desks
102217-right whale-adobe stock photo-MG
Right whale tail while swimming in the ocean (via Shutterstock)

A student sitting at her desk thousands of miles away, has the chance to learn in real time about whales in the Antarctic, thanks to technology and the collaboration of various organizations and businesses.

Squamish’s One Ocean Expeditions is working with Ocean Wise and others, to use video conferencing to livestream scientists and researchers aboard One Ocean cruise vessels into classrooms.

“We are proud to be able to share our core initiatives of education, science, ocean literacy and community outreach with students, our partners, guests, and viewers from around the world,” said Catherine Lawton, general manager of One Ocean Expeditions in a news release.

 Several broadcasts took place aboard the RCGS Resolute during the recent Marine Mammals of Antarctica voyage, according to the release.

With the broadcasts, international marine mammal scientists — including Ari Friedlaender, associate researcher at UC Santa Cruz and research director for the California Ocean Alliance — were able to share knowledge directly with students.

During broadcasts on March 29 aboard the RCGS Resolute, Friedlaender and his team discussed research of the underwater behaviour of marine mammals through the use of video tags and drones that help understand the feeding and social interaction of the whales.

Through the program, field education and science can be brought to Indigenous students in distant populations, according to Michael Furdyk, director of innovation at TakingITGlobal, which is the company that manages the virtual delivery of the satellite-based video conferencing technology.  

These first transmissions from RCGS Resolute included a series of schools across North America in connection with ‘Exploring By the Seat of Your Pants’ and involved participants Canadian Geographic Education, California Ocean Alliance and Ocean Wise, Vancouver Aquarium and Connected North — which uses Cisco video technology to educate the most northern students.

More broadcasts are planned onboard the upcoming inaugural Chilean Fjords voyage taking place, March 31 to April 13.

- Squamish Chief