June 9, 2018
Meet Onboard Naturalist Laura Blandford
Laura joins our 7/10 Maine and New Brunswick Nature Cruise. Explore the hidden gems along the Canadian coast of New Brunswick on a 10 day journey round trip from Boston. Scenic coastlines and wildlife exploration are abundant on and off the vessel.
Laura's affection for birds, and in particular seabirds, began one summer in Shoup Bay in Valdez, AK studying black-legged kittiwakes and other nesting seabirds. This experience opened her eyes and hearth to the beautiful world of the northeastern coastal environments. In both here in Maine and Hawaii, she has had the joy of being a naturalist on various nature cruises and whale watches, and enjoys being on and in the water. Laura has worked for a few non-profit organization focused in ecology, education, and research.
1. What are the areas on the Maine & New Brunswick cruise that you’re most excited to talk about/give your expertise on?
I am most excited to share the sights and excitement of our beautiful and famous seabirds of Maine and Maritime Canada with the passengers. These puffins, razorbills, common & Arctic terns were what originally brought me to Maine and it is because of my thrill with their biology, life history, and historical significance to northern New England that keeps me enamored with these birds. I am most anxious to see Petit Manan Island and the lighthouse and swarming seabirds that nest there because that is where I once worked as a seabird researcher years ago. Although I have not yet to Maritime Canada, I am also super excited to see Grand Manan and pass by other islands were the birds may be nesting. The Gulf of Maine is our own unique water system that supports a thriving ecosystem of fishes, whales, seabirds, and drives our local economy, so as we drive from one port to another, I hope I am able to show our passengers the vibrant life that is seen flying above and swimming in!
2. Is there any wildlife that you haven’t seen that you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of while on this trip?
I have not been out on a whale watch in at least 5 years, so I can't wait to see some feeding humpback, fin, and even the endangered right whale! With enough eyes watching on the ocean as we cruise along, we could even see other types of whales, sharks, or turtles. I love the ocean for its raw beauty and the treasures it holds, and I will do my best to spot as many species as possible!
3. What advice would you give to nature lovers, amateur birders/naturalists who want to get out on their own to observe their local wildlife?
Support your local economy and get to know the key players in your areas. Resources are everywhere within which you can find local biologists, teachers, or volunteers that provide a multitude of year-round programs. These could be your Federal agencies, such as the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; local non-governmental organizations such as Land Trusts or Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers; or state-owned organizations such as State Parks, and even University-related or owned facilities and research centers. Thanks to the internet, knowledge and opportunities are easily accessible, with many organizations hosting guided Walks & Talks, hosting speakers to talk about the latest topics, or with their facilities/nature center/visitor center open to the public. The majority of these resources are free and open to the public, but they are also supported by membership donations. Basically, I am suggesting that all nature lovers, birders, and environmentally-conscious folks should get out and support these amazing organizations by becoming involved and attending their fun, exciting, and educational events because they are there for a good cause: educating the public while protecting & conserving our lands and wildlife!
Join Laura and other naturalists aboard the Grande Mariner on July 10, 2018 as we sail round trip from Boston, MA on a special Nature Cruise! To learn more about attractions off the vessel, visit www.tourismnewbrunswick.ca!