by Eunice Hudzik, Seasonal Naturalist

As a Seasonal Naturalist, it is almost a certainty that each day, while either out in the marsh or on the beach, I will experience some kind of wildlife sighting. These likely encounters have fueled my enthusiasm for a job that keeps me coming back.

My most memorable sighting happened during my second year serving as a Seasonal Naturalist. Barrier Beach Ecology was the program that I was assigned to lead that day, and the students were high school aged, with a special interest in Biology. After explaining the program’s details to the students, we were ready to go.

The first activity was aquatic sampling. While I waited for them up on the beach, the students walked down to the shoreline to fill their buckets with ocean water. As they were coming back towards me, I was stunned to see, off in the distance, a whale propelling itself out of the water and slamming back down, creating a splash that looked like an explosion. The teacher standing next to me also witnessed this jaw dropping occurrence, and we both yelled to the students to turn around and face the water so they could see it too. Moments later, a second whale, a bit further out, also breached. WOW!

After a while, when we were sure that the whale action had ceased, we began testing the ocean water collected. In each bucket, we noticed there were numerous little amphipods swimming around in the water, not a usual sight. We surmised that this could be the reason why the whales were here.

Seeing an animal out in the wild always wows me, and being able to share that experience with others makes it just a little bit more special.