When thinking about Australia, the iconic image of the Sydney Opera House might come to mind. But for Dr. Paul Forestell, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Keuka College, Australia means whales and whale watching.
And for the first weekend in August, Dr. Forestell will not only visit the Land Down Under to whale-watch, he will lead the tours to see the humpback whales of Queensland’s Hervey Bay through the Pacific Whale Foundation.
Among the world’s foremost humpback whale experts, Dr. Forestell and Greg Kaufman, founder of the Pacific Whale Foundation, wrote the book on whale watching. Co-authors of Hawaii’s Humpback Whales: The Ultimate Guide, the book is a pivotal primer on humpback whales and responsible whale watching. They have also contributed myriad other scholarly and popular writings to the field of marine wildlife conservation and sustainable marine ecotourism.
Dr. Forestell and Mr. Kaufman have been studying whales off the coast of eastern Australia for more than 30 years, and know detailed life histories of more than 7,000 whales that visit Hervey Bay from July to October.
Serving as the Pacific Whale Foundation’s board co-chair, and as its research director for eight years, Dr. Forestell has participated in numerous scientific workshops and government advisory groups focusing on whales, dolphins, ocean resources, and science education. His work includes the development of international training programs for marine naturalists who provide wildlife interpretation on whale and dolphin-watching boats.
Dr. Forestell holds a Ph.D. in comparative psychology, with a focus in animal cognition, from the University of Hawaii. He spent the majority of his career in higher education as a research scientist, studying animal learning and behavior—specifically the migratory patterns and social behavior of whales and dolphins. For 15 years, he traveled to Costa Rica each January with groups of students to teach a dolphin observation and research course.
An international non-governmental organization and ecotourism pioneer, Pacific Whale Foundation has been working to save whales since 1980.
Photo credit: Pacific Whale Foundation.