From an early age, I have been interested in marine life. I obtained my BSc in Biology from Memorial University in 2015, and later volunteered with the GREMM, a marine mammal research group based in Tadoussac, Qc. Eventually, this position led me to pursue a MSc studying the behavioural ecology of the St. Lawrence beluga whale in collaboration with the GREMM and the WEEL group. These highly gregarious, critically endangered whales show high rates of birthing complication and neonate mortality, which has lead to intense interest in the first few months of life of beluga calves. My project investigates the prevalence of allomaternal behaviour and cooperative calf-rearing among St. Lawrence beluga whales. I am using unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology to measure mother-calf behavior and social dynamics. Ultimately, a better understanding of allomaternal behaviour and cooperative calf- rearing among St. Lawrence beluga whales will inform future management and conservation efforts.
photo credit: Gundula Friese