While we are at sea it is important for us understand more than just the interaction between seabirds and vessels.
To reach out and connect with the captains and crew we must learn to understand the life of these people with whom we share our time, and ultimately the people who will be responsible for the adoption of new practices in their daily routine that will help save the albatross. Some of the people we meet are truly incredible, and have amazing stories to share.
During my last trip, which was just over 40 days in the southern ocean, I had the opportunity to meet Claudia, the only female that had worked on the vessel in over 10 years. It is extremely uncommon to see women working at sea in Argentina, where folklore suggests that women at sea bring bad luck! Although this is gender discrimination, it is intriguing from a point of view of how social dynamics function on these vessels.
One day I approached Claudia to enquire about how she dealt with living in this environment. Claudia answered with the strong sense of self confidence that defines her character. She said that you just have to gain the respect of your colleagues, and that on the vessel nobody would dare disrespect her. I asked what she liked about her work and she explained that she works hard for a few weeks at sea which then gives her time to relax and do the things she enjoys at home.
Claudia told me that a lot of people think of these vessels as a prison because you can't just walk away once you are at sea, but nobody puts a gun to your head and forces you to work here - it is a choice. Claudia works in the processing plant, organising the fish trays for freezing and when she is not in the factory she wears her long dark hair down and her favourite earrings.
She enjoys watching the albatross from the deck and takes photos of the sunsets, something she says helps her to relax and feel inspired. I was able to help her pick out the differences between the species and when I left the vessel she said that now she realises that part of her inspiration is endangered with extinction.
Below: Claudia at her work post in the fish factory
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