Sarika Ganguli is a fourth year honours student in the Sustainable Environmental Management program. She is interested in marine and other aquatic environments. Sarika chose to pursue Senior Honours Work (SHW) to dive into the world of cetaceans in captive environments and the treatment of captive species such as orca whales, beluga whales, and bottlenose dolphins.
Sarika’s SHW is a thesis-based project considering the biological, psychological and sociocultural impacts of captivity on cetaceans (beluga whales, orca whales, and bottlenose dolphins), while also mapping out where they are captured from. The project is comprised mainly of a literature review focusing on the current research that exists surrounding the issue and compiling it into one comprehensive space. Initially, Sarika was focused solely on anthropogenic impacts on orca whales, which she ultimately broadened to other species. “I later decided, along with Professor Fawcett’s help, that this was an issue that I really cared about, and it deserved to be what I did my [senior] honours work on”, she explained. By reviewing bodies of research in the field, Sarika was able to showcase a variety of impacts on cetaceans and how it differs from their wild environments.
Sarika’s SHW is supervised by Professor Leese Fawcett, an associate professor at EUC and the Graduate Program Director for Environmental Studies. Professor Fawcett’s expertise in marine biology, particularly of whales, inspired Sarika to pursue her supervision. “It’s quite funny because initially I did not want to take on honours work until I spoke with Professor Fawcett. The connection that we had along with the love we share for marine ecosystems pushed me to take this on”, she explained.
Working on a research paper of this caliber was not something Sarika had expected to do during her undergraduate degree. “It has been not only hard work but also a lot of fun. The time and effort that you must put into something that you created is worth it in the end”. While completing a comprehensive research paper was at times stressful, Sarika found her SHW to be an extremely enriching experience. The most exciting part of her SHW was creating a map highlighting the capture hotspots (sites where the cetaceans are taken from) and then figuring out what marine parks they eventually end up at. The highs and lows of her SHW have provided her with the drive and focus she needs going forward.
In completing her SHW, Sarika has solidified that she wants to continue working towards protecting marine environments for as long as possible, hopefully to the point where they no longer need to be protected. Her advice for students looking to pursue Senior Honours Work is to take the chance. “You never know where it could take you, who knows what you could accomplish if you never take the risk”.