I’ve always been a believer that animals speak, but only to those who know how to listen. Meeting with Dr Olaf, a true animal whisperer, at Main Beach was ideal. Despite the clouds and showery rain, the setting was perfection. I have a feeling @dr_olaf has saltwater in his veins. Dedicated to whale research for the last ten years, he started his own volunteer organisation, “Humpbacks and Highrises”, dedicated to gathering research in the hope of generating better management practice and protection of these precious creatures.
His background in environmental and marine biology has brought him to Griffith University where he is currently involved in research and expedition projects.
“Without knowledge, you can’t create understanding and you need the understanding to instigate change. Humans stopped killing off whales because scientists proved they weren’t a threat to the fishing industry or to people. Can you believe people used to hate whales? The same issue now with sharks. The community fears them simply because they don’t understand what a shark actually does. It is through knowledge and understanding that we can actually create connection… that is where real change is born. Cultural change takes time but my dream is definitely to have the funds to continue our research. We need to develop a deep respect for our ocean. We are so dependent on it. We’ve come a long way but there’s so far to go. We need to move past wanting to get a selfie near whales or other creatures, to an understanding of the animals themselves and the environmental impact that has. If it wasn’t for the ocean there would be no Gold Coast! It is so simple really”.
Thanks, Olaf. Sometimes life stops this little traveller to take note of the words that stir me. We all own environmental urgency and to see it for what it is…sad and raw, hopeful and humbling.