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The Making of a Marine Naturalist: Meet Erin Hord

Our Marine Naturalists at Pacific Whale Foundation are so much more than boat crew. Each member of our marine education team has a unique background and brings a variety of knowledge and experiences. We love highlighting the uniqueness that each of our Naturalists brings to the boat, and diving deeper into their passion for the ocean. We’ll be highlighting a new crew member each month. As our whalewatching season continues in full swing here in Hervey Bay, we’re thrilled to introduce Erin Hord.


Hi Erin! Whereabouts are you from?

I was born in Miami, Florida, but I have lived the majority of my life thus far in Madison, Ohio.

What is your first memory of the ocean?

I think my first vivid memory of the ocean was when I was 8 years old and the ocean was flooding the street outside my family’s apartment building because of a tropical storm. That obviously didn’t deter me from ending up in a Marine Biology career though!

What drew you to work for Pacific Whale Foundation?

I was drawn to work for Pacific Whale Foundation because I absolutely love watching whales in their natural habitat and working to protect the oceans they dwell in.

What experiences and education prepared you for your journey to becoming a Marine Naturalist?

I went to a small liberal arts college where the opportunities to get involved in my future career were endless. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Marine Science, and I was able to study at the Duke University Marine Lab and have immersive marine science courses in the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and St. Croix. I think the experience that helped most with my journey to becoming a Marine Naturalist was my summer internship with the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation, based in New Hampshire. I was an education and research intern aboard whale watch vessels, which really helped ignite my passion for marine mammal conservation.

What is one thing you want to tell the entire world about conservation?

If I could tell the entire world one thing about conservation it would be that every little step towards a cleaner ocean goes a long way. Bringing conservation to the forefront of your consciousness takes time, but it becomes second nature after a while, and it is better for you and the oceans in the long run!

What is your favorite humpback whale behaviour to see and interpret for guests on board a whalewatch?

My favorite humpback whale behaviour to see and interpret for guests is the peduncle throw. Whales make such great use of their bodies, and it makes me laugh every time they do that behaviour.

Why do you feel that whalewatching is an amazing way to connect people with the marine environment?

I think whalewatching helps connect people to the marine environment because people can actually relate to whales in a way. They are complex beings that display curiosity, care for their young fiercely, and have modes of communication between one another. Seeing them in the wild is an experience that humbles people and makes them realize how special whales really are. It makes people want to help them in any way they can.

How do you stay motivated while working in the field of marine biology and conservation?

I stay motivated in this field because of the amazing colleagues that I get to work with. My coworkers inspire me and teach me new things every day. I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to tackle the ocean’s problems with.

And lastly…what is your oceanic spirit animal?

I think my oceanic spirit animal is a spinner dolphin. They are extremely social, playful, and curious. I would love to transform into one for a day and get a glimpse into their world.

Isn’t Erin incredible? Come and meet her in person this season in Hervey Bay, with whalewatches departing every day until October 31st. We’ll be back on the blog in a few weeks with another crew member’s story. Interested in learning more about how you can get involved with Pacific Whale Foundation Australia? Check us out here.