Humpback whales off the Virginia coast. Credit: Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center

“You must love your job!” is an exclamation many of us in the ecotourism career field hear quite frequently.  My response?  “WHALE YEAH!”  A floating office, cetaceans as co-workers, and the unexpected nature of each trip are things that many of us thrive upon. 

As a naturalist with the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, I am fortunate to be able to take part in sharing these experiences with our guests. Witnessing someone’s amazement as they see the ocean for the first time, hearing the giggles of glee when an animal breaches the surface of the water, or even seeing eyes tear up are indescribable moments.

Often, I am told that these are memories our guests will keep forever, and their reactions constantly leave me inspired and reinforces why we do the work that we do. I frequently find myself right beside them, eyes gleaming, smiling giddily, and gripping the rails with excitement and joy. You would think these were the first moments for me, as well. And it’s that passion that I’m proud to share every single day.

Alexis with passengers. Credit: Brian Lockwood

Each excursion serves as an unrivaled platform that allows guests to not only learn about the marine environment, but functions as an important step in creating action to protect coasts and oceans around the world.  By offering these opportunities to our guests, I believe we are creating a lifelong connection between them and these animals, which can better help foster conservation to protect the species and their habitats.

As conservation is at the forefront of the mission of the Virginia Aquarium, we stress that the more we are able to learn about the animals and their homes, the better we are able to protect them.  It is more than just a mission; it is a vision we live daily. We showcase our commitment by following responsible wildlife watching guidelines, and by participating with programs such as Whale SENSE.  Our passengers appreciate our dedication to responsible practices, and often comment on our high level of environmental and ocean stewardship. 

Harbor seals hauled out. Credit: Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center

With trips running year round, we are excited to facilitate so many meaningful moments with our visitors. And while I know that many of these moments are etched in my memory, I am excited to share them with our guests and help create a new group of ocean stewards, one trip at a time.

Many thanks to Alexis Rabon with Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center for sharing this blog with us! You can join Alexis on the water by booking a trip here.