Project Jonah has been saving the whales since the 70s, protesting against whaling and helping stranded whales make it back out to sea. We interviewed General Manager Daren Grover about the work they do and what drives them to do it.
You are working to create a world where whales are respected and protected. What got you involved in this great work?
I’ve always had an affinity with the natural environment and whales fascinate me. I remember being taught in school (in the early 80’s) that these amazing creatures would be extinct in the next 20 years, meaning I’d have little chance to see them. Yet here we are, 30 years later, and while still endangered, some populations have improved since then. I came across Project Jonah a few years ago and completed our marine mammal medic course – and was hooked. And the work we do is truly unique – how else can you make a real difference to help save the lives of these noble and mysterious creatures?
Tell us about special moment you have had working with Project Jonah.
For me, while the animals are central to what we do, it is the response from people that never ceases to amaze me. In January, a dead sperm whale washed ashore at Paraparaumu, near Wellington. Being dead, there was nothing we could do. However, with schools closed and many people on holiday, word quickly spread and thousands of people came down to take a look. Liaising with the Department of Conservation, we called upon our local volunteers, several of whom dropped everything, and spent the next 12 hours talking to the public and helping people to understand why the whale was on their beach. While exhausted, each of the volunteers really enjoyed the day and felt that their training had gone a long way to help people understand why a whale was on their beach and most importantly why.
One Percent Collective donors have given $3641 since last November to Project Jonah to help you reach your goals. Tell us about the great work you and the volunteers have been doing.
In the last year we have provided 35 World of Whales education packs to schools across the country, meaning that over 4,000 children have learnt about whales, dolphins, and the oceans they call home. We have trained a further 327 volunteer medics, ready to attend strandings as and when they happen. There were 11 strandings we were alerted to last year, involving over 100 whales and dolphins. Some of these (like the Paraparaumu sperm whale) were dead when they were discovered, but for the ones still alive, we do our very best with the knowledge and experience of the past 40 years to give them the best chance of survival.
How can people get involved with Project Jonah?
The easiest way to get involved with Project Jonah and learn about whales, dolphins and the marine environment is to attend our marine mammal medic course, with classes happening throughout the summer. Also, follow us on Facebook for the latest opportunities and events happening near you. Otherwise, contact the office to find out how you might be able to help. Over 98% of our work is done by volunteers!
Donate your 1% to Project Jonah here.