Travel the seas, again and again

Richard Sears was born in Paris, from a French mother and an American father. At eighteen, he takes part in a training expedition in oceanography onboard a schooner, between Puerto Rico and Boston. It is during this trip that he encounters whales for the first time. He is completely spellbound.

In 1976, after having completed his studies in biology in Maine, he worked at the Matamec Salmon Research Station in Sept-Îles, on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. In the summer of that year, he shares privileged moments with the whales of baie de Moisie. “I could do this the rest of my life,” he said while contemplating these giants from his inflatable raft.

Back in Massachusetts, he becomes a naturalist onboard whale-watching vessels and works alongside the pioneers of whale research: David Sergeant, Steven Katona, William Schevill, William Watkins, and Roger Payne are surely his greatest sources of inspiration. From them, he learns that in order to know whales
one must spend a lot of time at sea with these giants.

It is with this motivation that Richard returns to Matamec and Mingan in 1979 to study blue whales. Along with Liz Lowe, Fred Wenzel, and Mike Williamson, Massachusetts biologists, he creates the Mingan Island Cetacean Society (MICS).  About forty seasons later, his motivation is the same. Every summer, MICS President sails the waters of the North Shore and Gaspé Peninsula to continue his research. He continues to develop new partnerships and to welcome more and more master’s and doctoral students in order to stimulate research on cetaceans. Of the hundreds of trainees who worked at the MICS, several have continued their careers with marine mammals.

For the past thirty years, Richard has also been studying blue whales from the Azores. This allows him to increase knowledge about their distribution in the North Atlantic. The public can also join him during a research stay.

What is the most greatest achievement of his career? His research station now has wings (literally, with drones!). His greatest frustration? The surface of the water!

Latest update: December 2019