I joined KAI Expeditions as a member of an international film crew in 2012. We sailed for 3 weeks along the Spanish coast of the Mediterranean to do research on big open ocean animals like whales and turtles. For me, as a biologist working mainly at the coast, it was an excellent chance to widen my view on life in the ocean with experts who do this type of research for almost 25 years.
Christian Lott is a marine biologist and underwater filmmaker.
Christian studied biology in Germany and is now one of the directors of the HYDRA Institute for Marine Sciences Field Station on the Island of Elba, Italy. Being on a ship with 12 highly skilled and motivated people from 9 countries doing research is the work situation he likes best.
Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.
Days at sea are quite intense. Either you get up before sunrise if you were in port overnight to go out with the first light, or you are already out and it is your turn to get up for watches of different kind. Helping to prepare the ship to leave the harbour and set sail in a team gives you a great kick-start into the day.
Out at sea, you have to take watches for lookout, navigation, cooking, and cleaning. If you are able, you are involved in driving the inflatable boat to find and eventually catch a turtle for tagging, or take photos of pilot whales and dolphins for later ID work, or run the hydrophone set-up. During night sailing, you also have to assist the master and the ship's crew in doing watches.
In between, there is always time to have a chat, to ask "stupid" questions to the experts about sailing, navigation, weather, animals or the political implications of conservation in one of the centers of maritime traffic, the southern Mediterranean Sea.
What made this experience unique and special?
Being in the water and filming pilot whales and basking turtles is for sure one of the most exciting things to do both in a cameraman's and marine biologist's life. During normal volunteer tasks, you will not be allowed to go in the water with the animals, but if you have and can proof special skills like underwater photography you may be involved in this research activity and allowed to contribute by gathering photo or video data.
How has this experience impacted your future?
Since we did our expedition together, our relationship intensified.
Apart from having become friends, I brought in more contacts and we are now planning to set up new projects together. The first has just started as I joined KAI on this year's campaign of the OASIS project around the Balearic Islands. I hope I will be able to join the "LUIS GINILLO" later this summer in the waters around Malta.