An Interview with WiseOceans… Chiara Giulia Bertulli from Sea Watch Foundation

This week we chat to Chiara, Sightings Officer for Sea Watch Foundation.  With over 10 years experience in cetacean research, Chiara finds some of the most rewarding times are when she is able to share her love of cetaceans and inspire the next generation of conservationists.

Name: Chiara Giulia Bertulli

Job Title: Sightings Officer

Organisation: Sea Watch Foundation

  • What inspired you to pursue a career in marine conservation?

When I was at the university I read Roger Payne’s book “Among whales” and I realized that I could have combined two big interests of mine in one job: the ocean and marine mammals

  • What steps did you take/are you taking to achieve your career goals?

I got my Bachelor in Italy and my Master and PhD in Iceland, where I started my own citizen science project studying the conservation and behavioural ecology of local whales and dolphins. Over the years, I have also volunteered and assisted research around the world to learn techniques which I knew one day I could have used to become the independent researcher I have always wanted to be.

  • How did you land your current job/position? 

For over 10 years I have worked in cetacean research, I assisted volunteers and interns in the field, and I gained experience as a university lecturer. That’s what has helped me getting my current job.

  • Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?  

I like being involved in research, education and with public relations which are all fields which all are very close to my heart. I like to have the chance to go boating, to share my boat trips with other people who I can share the happiness of a cetacean sighting with. I like to be able to wake up every day knowing that in my own way I am helping the marine environment and its inhabitants.

  • Are there aspects of your position which make you feel that you are really ‘making a difference’? 

When working with students or field assistants, I find out that some of them have continued in cetacean research. When I meet up with a kid who has decided to fundraise to help us safeguard whales and dolphins around the UK.

  • What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?  

That it’s OK to make mistakes, that everyone finds their own place in this world and that it is possible to follow your dreams and to make a career out of it.

  • Are there any skills you never thought you would need but did?

Public relations and networking skills.

  • What advice would you give to budding marine conservationists?  

Being a marine conservationist or a marine biologist means spending long hours collecting and analysing data and writing reports. It is a job where you need to be focused and dedicated on your craft. But if you find out that you like it, it can be extremely rewarding.

  • What is your favourite marine creature and why? 

My favourite marine creature is the common minke whale, it is curious but elusive, elegant and it is extremely playful.

  • What is your most unforgettable moment in the sea?  

It is difficult to single out a single moment, but I do remember my first sighting of a group of feeding minke whales. They were so active, rolling at the surface belly up, and I was there standing on our boat and I could not take my eyes of them. It was magical.


Thank you Chiara for taking the time to answer our questions.  If Chiara’s story has inspired you to become involved in cetacean research then Sea Watch Foundation are recruiting now for Research Interns and an Education and Outreach Assistant!

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