Richard Sears

Founder, researcher, and head of the
Mingan Island Cetacean Study (MICS)

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 (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute) on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River. 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.

Afterwards, he becomes a naturalist onboard whale-watching vessels in Massachusetts 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). Twenty-one seasons later, his passion remains, but he entertains a new inspiration: to welcome more and more post-graduate students into his team and provide new incentives on cetacean research. What is the most greatest achievement of his career? His research station now has wings. His greatest frustration? The surface of the water!