This morning's obligatory New Year's Day "Polar Bear Plunge" was a painfully pleasant reminder of the dynamic nature of the ocean. Here on the temperate Big Sur, California coastline, it is Winter and the water is a crisp 56 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius). As I summoned the courage to submerge completely, I thought about how different it will feel to swim in the same Pacific Ocean just a few days from now …
As swift and direct as the groups of North Pacific Humpback Whales just offshore from where I had taken a dip, I will soon be traveling to where the water is much warmer. Tomorrow, I depart for Sydney, Australia to board the Celebrity Solstice to work as the ship's Naturalist as it sails around New Zealand, Australia, and elsewhere in the South Pacific.
Throughout my career to date, people have often asked what exactly a Naturalist "does". The title has many descriptions, but I would describe a naturalist as a person who observes and interprets the natural environment from the lens of a scientist across a wide range of disciplines. My position onboard is to take this a step further by combining my observations and interpretations with my background knowledge, while making those connections real to other passengers onboard.
However, my Naturalist work is not exclusive to cruise ships. This morning's plunge and subsequent pondering seemed an appropriate way to begin this blog, a part of the greater plunge of launching my website:
So, here it is, off I go, Happy New Year, and the happiest of birthdays to Wisdom the Laysan albatross, a legendary bird who helped me realize my innate sense of wonder, desire to wander, and capacity to ponder always.