An Interview with WiseOceans… Tess Hudson from Elding Whale Watching

This week we’re with Tess Hudson, Research Coordinator and Naturalist at Elding Whale Watching in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Her advice is to read as much information as you can get your hands on. She also emphasises the importance of networking, not only staying up-to date with current research but finding new contacts and friends within the marine industry.

Name: Tess Hudson

Job Title: Reykjavik Research Coordinator and Naturalist

Organisation: Elding Whale Watching

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

I have always had a deep love of the ocean and all the life it contains. Growing up in Australia, where conservation is one of the largest priorities and deeply embedded into the culture, gave me a great start to life and the best introduction to the marine world. When you see the beauty it has to offer you will do almost anything to maintain it.

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

I undertook a BSc in Zoology and then a masters degree in Marine Biology. I volunteered and worked hard at it and gained additional knowledge wherever I could. In addition to undertaking other courses such as the British Marine Divers Marine Mammal Medic Course and Marine Litter Management and Control. Additionally, I have attended as many conferences and meetings as possible to make contacts and gain the latest knowledge in the marine mammal field.

  • How did you land your current job/position? 

I began with Elding in 2015 as a Research Intern, and was offered a position as a naturalist for the following year. I have worked as a guide since April 2016 but have always been fully involved with the research. In 2017 I was promoted to Reykjavik Research Coordinator.

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

My favourite part of the job is being out on the water and re-sighting individual whales and dolphins that we have seen before. It’s just like greeting old friends.  Regardless of whether you have seen them only once before or a hundred, its just as special.

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

Certainly, the work I am doing has been a work in progress for many years now and finally we are seeing some breakthroughs. Additionally, we can see it in the faces and comments from our passengers, how delighted they are with the work we are doing and how fascinating it is and how we have encouraged them to think more about the environment and recycling.

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

I wish I knew that unfortunately it is often not what you know but who, and where to find them.

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

A sound working knowledge of maths, technology and software programs. In the field of research these skills are required above almost all else.

  • What advice would you give to budding marine conservationists?  

I would suggest that if they are interested in a certain aspect of conservation to read as much as they can on it. That they go to conferences and meetings and presentations where authors are presenting their works, not only to gather the latest knowledge in the field but also to make acquaintances, friends and contacts in the field as this more than anything will help them to achieve their goals.

  • What is your favourite marine creature and why?  

The Orca, simply because I am awed by their vast intelligence, their communication skills, hunting strategies and family nature.

  • What is your most unforgettable moment in the sea?  

The first time I saw wild orcas in the midnight sun, we were sailing into Faxafloi bay (Iceland), in mirror flat waters (which doesn’t happen too often), the lighting was just fantastic, with hues of pink and orange just like a painting. Then up they rose to complete the picture, a pod of 5, type 1 Orca, simply magnificent, we watched in awe as they swam around us, checked us out and then disappeared. It was a magical moment and something I will never forget.


Thank you Tess for this wonderful interview, it is great to hear how starting as a research intern can provide you with the contacts and experience to move up the ladder within a company, landing you your dream job!

Elding Whale Watching are currently advertising research placements for students in summer 2018, the same position that Tess started in! For more information check out their post on our Wise Work page here.

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