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Episode #8

November 2020



Hi, everybody. Thanks for being here and welcome to ocean solutions. a, NOISE Lab podcast. I'm Dr. Morgan Reed Raven, a  biogeochemist and a professor at the university of California, Santa Barbara. In this podcast, we're talking with inspirational individuals who are working on some of the largest issues of our time. At the intersection of climate, ocean conservation and human wellbeing. Today, our topic is whales. These gorgeous charismatic, mysterious giants have captivated humans. And been threatened by humans for at least centuries. My guest is Laura Inglesrud who works on one major threat to whales  in us waters today. Ship strikes or collisions between ships and whales.  Laura has worked to establish protective shipping lanes for sperm whales in the Caribbean nation of Dominica. And we'll soon be a marine mammal conservation Knauss fellow with NOAA fisheries, office of protected resources.  

Morgan: [00:01:32] hi Laura,

Laura Ingulsrud: [00:01:33] Hi.

Morgan: [00:01:34] thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me today. I wanted to make sure that I talk with someone who was working specifically on issues facing whales, which is not just because they are such gorgeous and mysterious creatures in popular imagination, but also because they are such a dramatic part of our local ocean ecosystem here in Santa Barbara, we have gray whales in the winter and spring blue and humpback whales in the summer.

And occasionally even right. Whales. So Laura, you've worked on issues facing whales for a couple of years. Now, what would you say is the central issue or issues that motivates your work?

Laura Ingulsrud: [00:02:09] Thanks, Morgan. Well, I guess I would start off by just saying why whales are so important to me is. Is looking at their history, their populations worldwide. We're pretty decimated by the commercial whaling industries. And while there's plenty of populations that are, you know, on the path to recovery right now, there are new threats though, that whales are now facing and that's, human caused threats, like ship strikes, entanglements and ocean noise.

And, as a environmental scientist, I believe that. As humans, we have the responsibility to sustainably coexist with our environment. And not only that, but whales themselves are super important to us as humans, with all the benefits that they provide us. And that can be through tourism revenue, regulating the climate, and also just providing really great stabilization for Marine ecosystems.

And then just personally, whales also holds such a huge intrinsic value for me just by, you know, simply existing. Like they're these huge mesmerizing Marine mammals. And,  I think everyone can agree that it's really fun to just be able to see whales in the wild and see footage of them on, you know, shows like BBC and stuff like that.

So whales have always just fascinated me and. And so I'm excited that I've been able to work on protecting them this past couple of years.

Morgan: [00:03:39] That's fantastic. Yeah. I mean, there really is something just mesmerizing and magical about. Whales and their size and their mysteriousness love it. So let's talk through those things. You've mentioned here about why whales matter to people in particular, besides just this magical, mysterious character. you mentioned a couple of things,

Laura Ingulsrud: [00:04:01] yeah. Yeah. I'll start with the tourism benefits for our economy. So, you know, whale-watching basically. Brings in a ton of money in different coastal communities around the world in Santa Barbara. There's a, the condor express is, well, what a popular whale watching boat that just goes out of the Santa Barbara Harbor.

And they operate most of the year because we're lucky to have whales in the channel a lot of the year.   there a sperm whale has been cited in the channel recently. there's Orca sometimes that pop up.

in terms of  worldwide as well, the international monetary fund did an economic evaluation and they found that a single whale is worth more than $2 million when you combine both their tourism benefits and then also their carbon storage benefits.

Morgan: [00:04:52] benefits. What do you mean by that?

Laura Ingulsrud: [00:04:54] it's kind of two ways that they benefit carbon storage is basically one is when wheels poop, there's all this nutrients in their poop, especially, you know, they're eating all this fish or krill and that encourages a lot of phytoplankton growth at the surface of the ocean.

And that captures just billions of tons of carbon dioxide every year, but then also whales themselves are accumulating carbon in their bodies and they live for a reason long time. unless there lives are cut short, but when they die, they sink to the ocean flora and they take that carbon with them. so that's stored at the bottom of the ocean.

Morgan: [00:05:34] Very important question about whale poop. Does it sink?

Laura Ingulsrud: [00:05:39] I don't think it's super dense. There is, all of this cool research with, workers and specifically, the Southern resident killer whales up in Washington area. multiple dogs have been trained now to basically like sniff out the Orca poop so that they can  go and get samples of it, to track how that population is doing.

because that population is not doing great. but yeah, so will poop is, is a thing


Morgan: [00:06:07] okay. So the poop stays on surface phytoplankton, bloom, the body sinks to the bottom. What happens then?

Laura Ingulsrud: [00:06:15] Yeah. So, this is what's called a whale fall and side note, if you haven't seen that video yet that the Nautilus took on an expedition last year of a whale fall. It's really cool. I, maybe you could put a link to it or something in the notes for

Morgan: [00:06:32] Yeah, I'll do that.

Laura Ingulsrud: [00:06:33] yeah, it's, it's a really cool video and it's really funny also listening to the scientists like nerding out this discovery.

And yeah, so basically you want to, you know, whale falls to the floor, that's just a huge source of nutrients for all this deep sea life that doesn't necessarily  that's kind of a rare thing for them, you know? and so  that's like a huge benefit for the ocean ecosystem as well   during their life they're providing all these nutrients and then also when they die.

So. They are really important ecosystem engineers, which means they play a big role in maintaining that healthy ecosystem.

Morgan: [00:07:11] Yeah, I mean, normally down there in the deep ocean, your food source is like this tiny little bit of rain. That's survived from above and you're getting these little tiny flakes of food all the time, and it would make such a huge difference to have this huge windfall or whale fall that comes, and it can sustain you for a really long time.

Laura Ingulsrud: [00:07:31] Yup. Exactly.

Morgan: [00:07:33] cool.

So what about here in California are our whale populations. Okay?

Laura Ingulsrud: [00:07:39] There have been a lot of studies recently on that question. there have been studies that estimate that every year over 80 blue humpback and fin whales are killed by  just ship strikes. On the West coast. And it's an estimate because it's actually really rare to be able to  confirm that number and,  find a whale that's been hit by a ship.

and that's because with, the vast majority of, collisions with ships or vessels,  that ship is so massive that if it hits a whale, you can't even really detect it. like for example, on cargo ships, The bridge where the captain controls the ship it's often set like really far back.

And so there's no way the captain could even see if there's a whale out in front of the ship or not. and sometimes the ships will come into port with a dead whale, just draped over the bow. And then they'll finally realize like, Oh, oops, I had a whale, but that's pretty rare because usually if a whale's hit, it'll either get.

 carried out to sea by the currents or winds or it'll decompose or it'll sink. And so a lot of times you're not able to actually like find and confirm that a whale has been struck. and so that's why it's super difficult to, monitor that. And also, probably the best thing is models that we have kind of predicting that rate of ship strikes.

Morgan: [00:09:00] Why does this happen? Do they not hear the ship and get out of the way? Or why is this particularly a problem for whales?

Laura Ingulsrud: [00:09:08] when you think about it, like whales have been around for so long and, ships have not been around for as long when you compare,  that to their evolutionary history. And so, you know, whales haven't really evolved to co-exist with ships and, they might not notice that a ship is coming in time or not be able to move out of the way.

Morgan: [00:09:28] there really is nothing else comparable in the ocean that they would have ever expected to


Laura Ingulsrud: [00:09:34] Exactly.

Morgan: [00:09:35] is this mostly a problem then on coasts or is this spread all over the ocean as a problem?

Laura Ingulsrud: [00:09:42] Yeah.  it can be an issue throughout all of the oceans worldwide, but basically with ship strikes, it's just kind of, where is that shipping traffic concentrated. on the West coast, it is concentrated near the coast because for example, the Santa Barbara channel is a. It's a huge hotspot for both whales and also, international shipping lanes run right through it, the ports of Los Angeles and long beach, you know, connect up North to other ports up there.

And really just wherever there's. Shipping happening in whales are occurring in the same area. you're going to probably run  to ship strikes.

Morgan: [00:10:19] Okay. So you said the number 80 per year was approximately the number of ship strikes that we were looking at right now. I guess I don't have a very good sense for what whale populations I like. Is this a really big number?

Laura Ingulsrud: [00:10:33] Yeah. So, another thing that kind of contributes to this is understanding the, it's called the potential biological removal limits. And those are set under the Marine mammal  protection act or the MMPA and, for whales, which are super long lived animals. And, you know, they don't have a lot of young, this limit is pretty low.

And so. studies have been showing that ship strikes on the West coast, specifically for blue whales and fin whales. , it's above that, , potential  biological removal limit. And so it's basically unsustainable for those populations right now.

Morgan: [00:11:13] got it.  so besides these strikes, are there other issues that are caused by humans that are also contributing to that biological, limit?

Laura Ingulsrud: [00:11:23] Yeah, I mean, another big, threat to whales is entanglements in fishing gear, particularly. So, especially for humpback whales, actually, that has become a big issue. in recent years. And, if you remember  the blob, you know, that happened a few years ago humpback whales were coming in super close to the coast to fish because that's where the fish were going.

And there ended up being a ton of entanglements with whales that year. because of that, there's the weird conditions. but now there's a lot of work being done and kind of looking into how to maybe alter the traps themselves. like there's rope lists, trap, technology that people are pursuing, stuff like that,

 a fishery  where there's, you know, a pot on the bottom of the ocean and there's a rope leading up to a buoy floating on the surface.

 if that line is kind of loose, then they can really easily get entangled, either in like their fins or , or their tail. And then that can just drag them down. Or even in bad cases, prevent them from reaching the surface for air.

Morgan: [00:12:29] Oh, yeah. Okay. Yeah. I suppose that's an extra vulnerability that you have as a whale is that  you don't have infinite time that you can be down there until something gets recovered. How often do they have to come to the surface for air?

Laura Ingulsrud: [00:12:41] it depends hands on the wheel species, but also kind of what they're doing. You know, if they're cruising along and traveling, they're going to be coming up , for breath more often, maybe, once ever,  couple seconds or minutes, but then if they're going down for a deeper dive, for food or something, or if they, , get spooked, then they can sit on there for pretty long.

Morgan: [00:13:02] okay. So a couple more whale questions. Whales are really smart. Right? I heard a lot about communication between whales and their use of sound. Are they talking to each other?

Laura Ingulsrud: [00:13:15] Hmm. Yeah. I've heard a lot of things around humpback whales and they're the songs that they sing the males specifically, basically during mating season to attract other females. And then, Orca is, I know have, you know, they're, they're super intelligent.

arguably probably the most intelligent whale and  I just finished a book about orcas and it mentioned in one part, scientists kind of trying to figure out like what their language is and could we ever learn to communicate with them? Yeah. Which would be so cool.

But, yeah, wheels can communicate with each other.  over potentially really long distances. And that does actually bring up another threat. I forgot to mention, which is ocean noise, which can interfere with a lot of that, especially, with hunting, like for example, Orca is, especially the Southern resident killer whales.

they're dealing with a lot of ocean noise up there and that, has been shown to impede their hunting. Like even just with whale watching boats. So that's another thing to consider

Morgan: [00:14:20] where's this ocean noise coming from.

Laura Ingulsrud: [00:14:23] a lot of it is from boats, just the motors. but also in more serious cases,  there have been whales that have stranded and died because of like a much louder noise, for example,  the Navy testing, Sonic weapons, that kind of thing.  there's been a couple instances where just a bunch of whales have stranded themselves to like get out of the water, because that noise is so loud and it can actually like, cause internal bleeding and, and, you know, really do some damage.


Morgan: [00:14:57] wow.  So clearly these strikes and entanglements and noise issues are bad for whale populations, but I'd like to talk a little bit more what you said at the beginning about how those populations are really connected to this whole ecosystem that exists surrounding whales.

how do whales interact with this ecosystem?  in a little more detail, what are some other impacts of say a lower whale population on the greater ecology of the coast?

Laura Ingulsrud: [00:15:23] So, whales, themselves provide a lot of nutrients, whether that's through their poop or through them dying and falling to the bottom of the ocean. but also if you've ever seen, for example, like humpback whales feeding, you can tell that there's all of this other ocean activity that they attract.

for example, if they've got  a bait ball of fish, kind of corralled  humpback whales will blow bubbles up and create what's called like a bubble net around the fish, kind of drive them to the surface. And then that will attract birds and also sea lions and dolphins.

So a lot of the whale watching trips I've been out on, and the Santa Barbara channel, actually, I've been able to. To witness this. And it's really cool to see how all of these other Marine animals are kind of taking advantage of these huge whales  that are driving this food source to the surface that none of those other smaller animals would be able to do to that large of a scale.

and so, yeah, it is, they also can, contribute to the. Health of the ecosystem in that way, by just, providing an easier food source for a lot of other animals in the area.

Morgan: [00:16:35] Yeah, absolutely. What are some of the best practices that we can pursue to try to fix this problem? What do we do about it?

Laura Ingulsrud: [00:16:43] Yeah. So in terms of whales strikes or ship strikes, specifically some of those, the best practices is basically getting the ships to slow down in those areas where the whales are present.  this can be accomplished through implementing different management measures, like shipping lanes. So = having, the vessels be in a designated lane.

So they're not just traveling all over the place. and then also slow speed zones for the vessels. And both of these things are enforced by the international maritime organization or the IMO. And the IMO is the global authority for the safety, security and environmental performance of international shipping.

 most countries are, are a member of the IMO. And so they are, obeying the different mandates and the shipping lanes and everything that the IMO has set up because, it's also for the safety of. Just shipping traffic, just like, you know, we have lanes for cars, it's the same in these busy shipping, areas.

Morgan: [00:17:46] is this connected to the United nations or is it completely separate?

Laura Ingulsrud: [00:17:50] it's separate.  it's sets its own standards. It's its own organization. Yeah. but the IMO has actually adopted different routing measures that can be used to protect whales. from, impacts from shipping like whale strikes and, it has this guidance document to minimize the risk of ship strikes with whales and an example of using the IMO, to protect whales is again right out in the Santa Barbara channel in 2013, they successfully shifted the southbound shipping lane one mile North, and then they also reduced.

The distance between the southbound or northbound lanes, and that had the benefit of reducing the overlap of the shipping lanes with whale hotspots, basically where all the whales were present by 15%. So just by shifting it a little bit more out of where models were predicting, where whales were,  through oceanographic conditions, but also.

Just whale, sightings data. a lot of it from whale watching boats, that kind of thing, they were able to see, how they could potentially work with the IMO , to move those lanes. and then also Noah, has implemented a voluntary, slow speed zone in the Santa Barbara channel. It is voluntary, but , they have  an incentive program and, , it's good PR if shipping companies comply with that, and it it's asking, vessels to slow down to 10 knots when they're in that area of the channel in certain times of the year.

that has been going on for a while. And,  with varying success rates, because it is voluntary. but recently the Benioff ocean initiative, which is actually, affiliated with UCSB, they just came out with this website called,   whale it's super cool.

I mean, I just like to look at it. I get like the email updates and. I kind of use it as just curious, like, Oh, are there any whales in the channel right now? Because they use sightings from, just these apps that,  just anyone could download and if they see a whale they'll report on the app, but they also work with the whale-watching companies as well.

Morgan: [00:20:07] super cool. Do we ever track whales? Like we do birds with the little bracelets.

Laura Ingulsrud: [00:20:12] Oh, definitely. Yeah.  Cascadia research. they do a lot of that. I think just, I don't know if it was last summer. I think it might've been, they were, attempting to tag blue whales in the channel actually. So yeah, there's definitely a lot of that as well. but in terms of what the Benioff ocean initiative is trying to do  with this whale safe website, they not only.

You know, give you information about what types of wills have been cited in the channel, but they also have an acoustic buoy that picks up the different calls of whales and, and can identify which species it is based on the call. So that's another way that they can detect if there are whales in the channel or not.

And then they also have developed this report card for shipping companies. they can tell basically how fast the ships are going through because, vessels are required to have what's called a AIS you can check how fast they're going so they can, see if they're obeying that voluntary, slow speeds zone or not. And then they can assign them a grade, like a, to an F based on their performance.  Benioff ocean initiative is hoping that that will provide more incentive to slow down.

because you know, anyone can see this. And they're also hoping that the shipping companies will use their, , website to, see if there's whales in the channel and if, and if they do need to slow down on that particular day.


Morgan: [00:21:42] Yeah. So let's talk a little bit about your involvement in these issues and the specific projects that you've had your hands in before. Can you tell us a little bit about those?

Laura Ingulsrud: [00:21:53] Yeah,  the big intro for me and to the world of ship strikes and whales was actually my master's thesis group project at the Bren school of environmental science and management, which is at UCS B and  we have,  a real outside client that we work with that,  has some problem that  they want to work with the students to solve over a period of, around a year, a little bit more than that. our client was the Dominica sperm whale project and our project aimed to one, create a Marine spatial plan off of the West coast of Dominika.

To implement shipping lanes and a slow speed zone, actually, to reduce, ship strikes on the sperm whale population that is resident to Dominika

Morgan: [00:22:41] You remind me where Dominika is.

Laura Ingulsrud: [00:22:43] Yes, it is in the Caribbean,  in a chain of islands called the lesser Antilles. So our client has been studying these whales, in this area for 15 years.

And found that the population is declining and he thinks it's due to a combination of ship strikes and entanglement. So we focus mainly on the ship strike side of things,  a big part of our project , was trying to figure out the best way to put shipping lanes in a slow speed zone and basically give all of this information that we gathered.

To the Dominique and government, and you know, hope that they can use it  in the future,  when they start trying to work with the IMO themselves , to get these things implemented. And then, the other half of our project was doing an economic valuation on the sperm whale, tourism industry.

And that was kind of as a way to incentivize. But Dominic and government to,  listen to our recommendations about the Marine spatial plan, to kind of be like, Hey, this is how much money these whales are bringing into the economy in Dominika and it's, you know, important to make sure that they stick around basically.

Morgan: [00:23:56] Yeah. Was there a particular issue that was the source of pushback on that project? Why would people not for example, jump at the chance to preserve their sperm whale populations by redirecting shipping traffic.

Laura Ingulsrud: [00:24:09] I think it's more, I mean, you know, everyone that we did talk to in Dominika has a huge sense of pride about their sperm whales, and they really intrinsically value them as well. and so I don't think it was, you know, necessarily pushback on that. It was more of  it's a small,  Island and there are no shipping lanes really in that area of the chain of islands.

And it's a long and difficult process to go through the IMO and  to get a shipping lane implemented or slow speed zone, it's just a lot of work. And so that was our client's hope was that we could kind of provide like a little bit of a groundwork, for them to jump off of

Morgan: [00:24:51] I see. So you do some of that work upfront and get the information together. It makes it much easier to say, yeah. Okay. We can implement this.

Laura Ingulsrud: [00:24:58] Yeah, that's the hope

Morgan: [00:25:01] Got it.  are these slow speeds zones and shipping lanes pretty widespread globally? Or is this really just getting started?

Laura Ingulsrud: [00:25:09] specifically in response to whale strikes? I think. It was something like there's 10 areas around the world where that's specifically been implemented for that purpose. along the East coast of the United States for the North Atlantic, right. Whales that's, that's a huge topic and Noah has implemented not a voluntary, slow speed zone, but it's  required there.

 cause that will population is. Is very much in trouble, worse off than,  populations on the West coast of blue whales and fin whales, but, yeah. And other areas of the world as well,  places have implemented the slow speed zones or shipping lanes. So, you know, it is, it is happening, but I th I think it is a relatively new thing.

Like for our project. For example, we did a look at all these case studies of where it was happening all over the world to get tips of what other people did, what worked and what didn't. And so it was really helpful for us to look at, other instances of, protections against ship strikes , and how that worked.


Morgan: [00:26:10] Very cool. And your next career step works on this issue too, right?

Laura Ingulsrud: [00:26:15] Yeah. So I actually just found out, last week that, as part of the Knauss fellowship, which is a Marine policy fellowship, that is your place somewhere within the federal government for one year, working on some sort of issue, you know, related to Marine policy. and I found out I was placed, with the NOAA fisheries office of protective resources and that title would be Marine mammal conservation fellow.

And so, yeah, I was really excited to learn that and I'm excited to start working on it in February, but one of my projects will be actually centered on the North Atlantic, right. Whales. and just synthesizing data about them and how they use their habitat to get a better understanding of how to better protect them.

Morgan: [00:27:08] Very cool. And so I know you haven't started this yet, but what do you  see yourself doing with most of your time in that particular project? Are you going to be doing a lot of meeting with different stakeholders or a lot of data analysis or a lot of writing, or what do you expect?

Laura Ingulsrud: [00:27:24] yeah,  one of the things that really interested me about this position, particularly when I was interviewing and listening to the presentations of all the potential. Positions was that this position seems like it will be very varied. a typical day could be like a deep dive into some detailed topic or scientific document, to try to develop  some management ideas or policy positions.

it could also involve, responding really quickly to any questions. Or what they call taskers from, Capitol Hill or, you know, NOAA leadership, something like that. and then also just multiple meetings with, you know, colleagues in the office, but also other partners and scientists. And so it seems like it's, you know, every day is, is going to have something a little bit different and it seems like a very busy job, but I'm excited to have that kind of variety.

Morgan: [00:28:23] got it. So to clarify, is NOAA able to create these shipping lanes and rules without the IMO, just for domestic waters or do they still have to go through the IMO in order to create something like a slow seed zone?

Laura Ingulsrud: [00:28:37] Yeah,  know us still has to work with the IMO, to do anything that's, , affecting international shipping. Cause that I am as the authority on that. So that's why you can take a really long time to get any, even if it's just a one mile shift in a shipping lane, that alone took two months and I think even years maybe of, of work to get that passed.



Morgan: [00:29:01] Okay. So you've just landed this really exciting fellowship. Can you tell us a little bit about how you got here? What are the pieces that connect all these different projects you've worked with since your master's degree and even getting into it?



Laura Ingulsrud: [00:29:14] Yeah, sure. So going back before my master's degree, I actually also did my undergrad at UCSB, and I majored in environmental studies and I did a minor in professional writing. And after I graduated, I, did some like fun jobs for a little bit. Like I,  taught sailing

 I actually still do a little bit of that. Just kind of on an on-call basis now. But, another fun job I did was working as a mountain guide on Mount Fuji for a season.

And yes. Yeah, that was a lot of fun and completely unrelated to, you know, what I got my degree in, but I think it was a nice break for me.

And, and then after that, actually, yeah, I ended up coming back to Santa Barbara to work as an environmental control. And I did that for about three years before going back to grad school. And I decided to go back to grad school because I wanted to work on, Marine policy issues basically. cause as an a consultant, I got a lot of great experience.

but it was very broad and I knew I wanted to focus on Marine conservation issues. So we decided to go to brand for that reason.

Morgan: [00:30:27] What kind of a consultant were you? What did you consult about?

Laura Ingulsrud: [00:30:31] I did a lot of writing. So a lot of writing of environmental impact reports under the California environmental quality act. That was a lot of my work.

I would get like, a biologist report or a geology report and kind of have to translate that scientific language into just everyday language in this environmental impact report and, analyze the impacts of whatever project we were writing it for, would have on all of these different aspects of the environment, you know, whether that's biology or noise or air quality.

So. I got this broad understanding of, environmental impacts and kind of how that works with specifically the laws in California. But, by the end of my time working there, I knew that I was, you want him to focus in on, on a more specific area. So that's kind of what drove me to go back to grad school.

 it really appealed to me just because of the interdisciplinary nature of brand. I think it's really important to be able to, translate between science and policy and management. And that is kind of what Bren is all about. So that's why I went back to school and, and then I specialized in coastal Marine resource management and conservation planning, and I did a focus in environmental data science.

, that also led me to apply to this canals fellowship, they stress a lot of that interdisciplinary focus and, it's on specifically Marine policy, which is what I'm passionate about.



Morgan: [00:32:01] with all these different directions, you could have taken this interest. Do you have a favorite thing or a reason why Marine policy particularly spoke to you?

Laura Ingulsrud: [00:32:11] I've always been fascinated with the ocean from when I was a kid from wanting to be a. Work a trainer when I was little,

Morgan: [00:32:20] Oh, that's a good career choice.

Laura Ingulsrud: [00:32:22] right. Until I saw Blackfish and then was like, nevermind.

Morgan: [00:32:26] yeah. Reality.

Laura Ingulsrud: [00:32:28] Yes. But as a kid, I dreamed about swimming with Orca as you know, and that kind of thing. there was this computer game that I was obsessed with as a kid.

 it's very much like a food chain game. You basically, you got to pick what. Marine animal you were, and then you just went around, whatever ecosystem you were in eating the things that you were allowed to eat and running away from predators.

And then you had to learn which things were poisonous to you, that kind of thing.

and I loved that game so much.

Morgan: [00:33:02] I think I might've played a much earlier version of that game on an Apple IIC when I was in like the fifth grade.

And there was like push D for deep escape and

push S for shallow escape. And


Laura Ingulsrud: [00:33:13] seems really similar. Oh, in that yours was called Odell Pond. Oh. So maybe it was just like the. Fresh water pond version of the one that I played, which

is like the ocean. Yeah.

That definitely I think had an impact, honestly, on why I got so obsessed with, you know, Marine creatures in the ocean.

Morgan: [00:33:35] that's great. Love it. also now I really want to find that game too. I, I loved that game.

  Where did you grow up by the way?

Laura Ingulsrud: [00:33:42] I grew up in Sacramento, California, so inland.  another big part was moving to Santa Barbara for undergrad. And I, you know, I'm here 11 years later, haven't really left except for that short job back in Japan. But, yeah, I think I just really fell in love with the ocean and the coast and.

also just learning about the importance that the oceans have , for humans and the world, like it provides so many benefits for us and it's really, the importance of  keeping our Marine ecosystems healthy and making sure we're using them in a sustainable way  became really important to me.

that's why I specifically wanted to go into. Marine policy issues.

Morgan: [00:34:28] That's very cool and fairly inspiring. Thank you.

So if someone's listening to this and they are feeling inspired and they would also love to work in a similar field, maybe in these sort of policy focused approaches, do you have specific advice for them? How would you recommend they pursue a career path like yours?

Laura Ingulsrud: [00:34:49] Yeah, I mean, I would say, you know, they could either go the route that I did, which was kind of getting some real world experience after undergrad and  figuring out more what I really wanted to do because after graduating undergrad, I was still very much lost and, you know, What do I want to do with my life?

And still, even now, I'm not quite sure what exactly I want to do, but

Morgan: [00:35:14] Does that ever go away? I

Laura Ingulsrud: [00:35:15] I don't, I don't think it does. So I still think that it was really important to have that time to kind of explore and think about what my priorities were.  like, for example,  I took the LSAT twice. I was going to, I thought I was going to go to law school during that time.

And I'm really glad that I did take the time. Before just jumping into, going to law school to realize that that wasn't what I really wanted to do. so yeah, I think just taking some time and exploring things that you're interested in first is really important. And then if you do feel the pull to go back to grad school, there are so many good programs, especially for, you know, Marine policy.

 but I would also say if you have an idea of some place that you would love to work, informational interviews are a great resource and especially if you're still a student, people are way more willing to give you some of their time.

If you reach out to someone basically saying, Hey, I'm a student and. No, I think your job is really cool. Would you be able to spare, you know, 15 minutes, of,  in this day and age zoom chat to talk to me and kind of maybe give some advice about,  how to get to where you are, that kind of thing, that has proven really useful for me.

And that's something I know that I'll be relying on a lot this next year and my fellowship, because I'll,  suddenly have access to all these people. throughout NOAA and other agencies. So that, that, I think that's a huge tool, too, for just finding out what jobs you're interested in and talking to those people that have those jobs to see what they're really like.

Morgan: [00:36:55] So you would say send the email

Laura Ingulsrud: [00:36:57] yes, some email don't be afraid,  a lot of people will be really excited that you reached out to them. and I'm sure they'll do their best to give you some of their time to talk to you. and then on top of that, if you see any,  internship opportunities  or job opportunities with an organization you're interested in, go for that as well.

and a lot of times having an informational interview with someone at an organization you want to work for is can go a long way because then you've already established someone there. You're starting to build your network. And  that can come in handy down the line as well.

Morgan: [00:37:35] That's really helpful.  so thank you so much for all of your time today. This has been super interesting. I'm really glad to learn some new things about whales off the coast. And it's great to hear that there are organizations and individuals like yourself who are working to solve these issues with whales .

 Laura Ingulsrud: [00:37:50] Yeah, you're welcome. I mean, I'm always happy and excited to talk about whales. Love them a lot. And yeah, just excited that I'm still fortunate enough to be able to work on these issues.

Morgan: [00:38:02] That's wonderful.


Thanks so much for being here today and things is always to Eleanor Durand and to Dust on the Radio for One way, Trip to Mars. Next week. We'll talk a little more about policy and how governments can implement conservation projects and create new policies to rehabilitate kelp forests on a meaningful meaning large scale. On behalf of all of the people of the state of California. 

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