01 Dec '16

Smitten by sea creatures

door Gerard Hautekeur

Marine biologist Joëlle De Weerdt (29) from Grimbergen is fascinated by whales and dolphins. She spends three months every year undertaking scientific research in Nicaragua.She also trains fishermen there to become eco-guides.

‚Once I had finished studying I set forth into the world as volunteer, visiting places such as Madagascar, Wales, Slovenia and Mexico. These offered me the opportu- nity to study species such as the humpback whale and the bottlenose dolphin. These projects enabled me to gain enough expertise and experience to start my own project in Nicaragua in 2015.‘

She believes that scientific research should have a social purpose and she acts in accordance with this aim. ‚I also spend a lotof time with members of the local fishing community. I want to train them to become eco-guides so that when they are at sea they will adopt an ecologically responsible attitude towards sea creatures. The boat trips for tourists should provide the fishermen with an additional source of income in due course.‘