October 30, 2018: Behind NAMMCO – Rikke Guldborg Hansen

Having had a fascination with the Arctic since childhood, Rikke Guldborg Hansen has been involved in NAMMCO since 2008, and is prominent member of the Scientific Committee:

Reasons for Working in Marine Mammal Science:

My fascination of Greenland stem from childhood stories about sailing in the Arctic among icebergs and indescribable open spaces told by my favorite uncle that worked in Greenland as a marine soldier.

I first started working with marine mammals as an educator at the Natural History Museum of Denmark, the proud holder of one of the largest collection of cetaceans in the world, in 2006. After participating in the aerial survey off West Greenland in 2007 (that was the Greenlandic contribution of TNASS (Trans-North Atlantic Sighting Survey), my interest for working in the Arctic arose. I have been affiliated with the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources since then and after obtaining my masters in biology at the University of Copenhagen in 2010 I have been working full-time at GINR on developing and improving methods of data collection and analyses to help improve the scientific advice GINR give to the Greenlandic government, NAMMCO, JCNB (Joint Commission on Narwhals and Belugas) and other management bodies.

My main interest is the regional and global abundance and distribution of cetaceans and I have been involved in developing the abundance estimates of cetacean and walrus stocks that are hunted in Greenland. I am particularly interested in the three arctic cetacean species narwhal, beluga and bowhead whales and how they are adapting to a rapid changing arctic environment. I prefer to be involved in all parts of a project from start to finish; objective, logistics, data collection, analyzes and finally documenting and presenting results.

Involvement with NAMMCO:

I am a member of the scientific committee of NAMMCO, the current chair of JCNB, an editor of the NAMMCO Scientific Publication series and my hope for the future work of NAMMCO is that the field of marine mammal science will continue to be a prioritized research area, benefitting both the Inuit hunting communities and the scientific understanding we have of the marine mammal species. The quota setting for narwhals and belugas is a success story in NAMMCO, ensuring the sustainable hunt of these two endemic polar species.

Memorable Experience at NAMMCO:

At a NAMMCO meeting in Quebec City in 2009, I took a road trip to Baie-Sainte-Catherine to photograph the belugas in St. Lawrence River. I ended up spending all the battery power photographing the Canadian autumn foliage on the way there and I did not get a single picture of a beluga. Not even of that perfect mother-calf pair. Since then I have barely taken a photo when out in the field as I find no pictures really describes the amazing nature and wilderness in the Arctic.

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