Questionary: Karl O’Neill - Researchers, guides, photographers, storytellers - with this questionary we want to introduce people who share a deep love for whales and dolphins: meet Karl O'Neill from Orca Guardians.

Questionary KARL O’NEILL

Researchers, guides, photographers, storytellers - with this questionary we want to introduce people who share a deep love for whales and dolphins: meet Karl O'Neill from Orca Guardians.

This is Karls favourite own orca photo. In his answer to question #5 he tells you why.
#1 Who are you and what are you doing?

I’m Karl O’Neill, I’m a whale watching guide for Laki Tours in the west of iceland. I’m also photographer and videographer for Orca Guardians Iceland and have recent started my own Photo ID project with sperm whales around Iceland.

#2 Best job in the world?

My Job. I wouldn’t settle for anything less. I get to spend every day at sea watching whales and getting nerdy about them with people from all over the world. The sightings here are so varied, every single trip is different.

#3 Why whales?

I’m an animals nerd in general, whales are obviously incredible, but i’ve worked with badgers & foxes, cheetah & hyena, sharks & penguins… I do find it totally fascinating how little we know about whales and dolphins in general though.

#4 Your favourite place and time to meet the whales?

Im really set on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in Western Iceland, probably around June. Killers, Sperms and others too and 24 hour daylight?! Amazing!

#5 Favourite own whale photo? Why?

Not my ’artiest’ photo, but i think this shot is a really useful one for explaining the differences in orca fins to those who haven’t come across the idea of Photo Identification before. The closest is Feather, she’s been around loads in the last year and become something of a personal favourite.

#6 Best thing that ever happened during an encounter?

Last summer a sperm whale turned and headed toward the exact place I was standing and lifted his nose up high about 1 metre away. My jaw hit the deck.

#7 What makes a perfect day with the whales?

As a guide, i love it when people are engaged with the tour and really observe and ask questions. Any day with the whales is the best day ever so its the people that make it stand out for me.

#8 What do you want people to bring home from an encounter?

I really like to reach people that aren’t interested in wildlife. i think everyone that devotes a chunk of their life to conservation had that one WOW moment that started it all off. If me and the whales can provide that moment and add more people that CARE in to the world then that’s amazing.

#9 Your advice for everyone who's planning a whale watching trip?

RESEARCH RESEARCH RESEARCH. check the seasonal patterns, check the ethics, check the weather, and book more than one tour if you have a certain species in mind.

ORCA GUARDIANS

If you want to support the non-profit work of the Orca Guardians, you can do so by making a donation: With the adoption of an orca you will not only get regular information about »your« and the other Icelandic orcas, but also great pictures in high quality, which you can have printed as postcards or posters.

On our winter trip to Iceland, we visited Marie and the Orca Guardians in Snaefellsnes and tried our hand at the photo identification of orcas. Not so easy at all! You can find the complete article here: Iceland in winter: Orcas in the snow

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