Meet Judy Evans

Hallo, my name is Judy Evans and I teach year 5 and 6 children (ages 9 to 11) in New Zealand. I teach at Totara Drive School in Masterton, which is on the eastern side of the North Island, about 100 kilometers north of the capital city, Wellington.

The oceans of the world are important to us all, but what do we really know about them and the plants and animals that make up this huge ecosystem covering most of our planet?

You will be joining me to discover some of the exciting animals that inhabit our oceans and to see if contact with people affects their life in any way. In this project, we are going to look at two specific ocean animals, the leatherback sea turtle in Costa Rica and the dolphin in New Zealand.

In Costa Rica, Dr. Frank Paladino will act as your guide as Earthwatch teams track populations of leatherback turtles. One of the most endangered types of turtles, leatherbacks are being caught in fishing nets and their nesting habitats are threatened by beachside development. With the work of scientists, can we help the leatherbacks survive?

I'll be joining a team of scientists and volunteers led by Dr. Bernd Würsig from Texas A&M University at Galveston. We will be finding out about dolphins, in particular the dusky dolphins, which are found off the coast of New Zealand in the Pacific Ocean. We will also look for other dolphins such as the Hector's and bottlenose dolphins, birds, fur seals and species of whales including sperm and perhaps killer whales. Our goal is to discover how dusky dolphins react to human interaction.

There are opportunities for tourists to swim with the dolphins and watch the dolphins playing from boats. We need to find out if the interaction with people causes the dolphins to change their natural behavior, feeding, or resting patterns. Do some of the dolphins prefer to be near humans?

Do some dolphins prefer to keep away?

We will be observing the dolphins' reactions to people from two main sites. One will be on the water and the other observation site is a cliff atop on shore.

I am really excited to be part of a team that will track, photograph, and record dolphin groups, their movements and reactions to people on and in the water with them. These fascinating creatures have a special place in the ocean and have been featured in many stories and tales of sailors through the centuries. We need to make sure they are not harmed by tourism.

Are you ready to get started? Your mission for this project is to learn about ocean life, see how humans affect the behavior of animals, learn about Earthwatch's work in the field, and do your own research. Click on the link below to accept your mission and get started!