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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Walking My Talk

Fabrizio Sestini
Communications Officer, Bob Barker

Fabrizio Sestini When I was asked to be the communication officer of the Bob Barker, I didn’t exactly know what to expect. The only “communication officer” whom I knew of is Star Trek’s lieutenant Uhura! However, once onboard, it didn’t take long for me to figure out that besides our different hair styles, my job here was not translating treacherous Klingon messages, but rather managing the vast array of information and radio equipment present onboard including: the Internet, networks, satellite, fixed and portable radios, antennas, radars, GPS, gyroscopes, and anything else which has a plug or a battery.

During the endless weeks that I have spent fighting with any sort of electronic problems, I’ve learned a lot about the practicalities of the Internet devices and other equipment of which I didn’t even suspect the existence. And I (mostly) enjoyed it!

From the excellent vantage position offered by the bridge, I could observe and photograph most unusual life and astonishing Antarctic blue landscapes. I have also, well sometimes, “experienced” the Antarctic blue, during the long transfers to the middle of nowhere in seas so rough that you feel like you’re in a washing machine. But this was always alleviated by the company of a fantastic international crew of volunteers, and a surprisingly excellent tasting, varied vegan cooking.

To me, the whales being hunted are a universal symbol of the unsustainable manner in which our planet and most of its inhabitants, both humans and animals, are being exploited for commercial reasons. I like to see my job here as a practical application of some of my scientific and technological knowledge to a concrete cause which can progress our civil society. This is also what I strive to achieve in my so-called normal life, where I manage ICT research projects funded by the European Commission, looking at which future Internet technologies can contribute to a more sustainable future world. I have always believed that only a hands-on experience can make you aware of the practical everyday challenges and future needs, which is all the more crucial if you are expected to define public policies or research priorities in technology-enabled areas. Therefore, helping in effectively using communication tools towards defending whales, is a unique opportunity for me to walk my talk in a unique marine environment that being a sailor…I love. I am very grateful to Sea Shepherd for this.

 

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