Eating Blubber vs Eating Chips


Press Release

From: BUEI (Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute)


BUEI and BIOS present: Eating Blubber vs. Eating Chips – Learning from Native People’s Changing Diets 


November 4, 2013 Hamilton, Bermuda - On Friday, November 8, BUEI and BIOS present a preview screening at BUEI of an upcoming documentary on changing diets in coastal people by world-renowned researcher, Dr. Eric Dewailly, and one of Bermuda’s own leading scientists, anthropologist Dr. Philippe Rouja.

Eric, known globally as the ‘Omega-3 fatty acid king’ and Philippe, were both investigators for the Urqsuk/Utsuk study, looking at dietary transition and measuring changing health in Inuit communities. As Northern communities have moved from healthy traditional wild food diets to western imported food, the health benefits Dr. Dewailly has studied in their communities for over 30 years have steadily eroded. The film was initially conceived as a device to communicate the results of two seasons of Inuit health surveys carried out on the ice breaker, Amundsen led by Dr. Dewailly and his teams. Specifically the film wanted to communicate the consequences of dietary change to the Inuit communities as they transition from healthy "country fats" to bad commercial fats. In its development the film was expanded to be accessible to broader audiences, touching on themes of interest to all cultures trying to navigate their way through the globalization of human diet, the erosion of food culture and the ensuing consequences for human health.

We asked Dr. Rouja what does eating blubber have to do with Bermuda? He replied, “Bermuda has access to a huge stock of wild food. All local fish is wild caught. As a result of this we share the same benefits and sensitivities with other coastal communities around the world. The challenges they are now facing we are also facing.” He added, “We have more in common with indigenous cultures than we think!”

Eric Dewailly is a Canadian professor at the faculty of Medicine of Laval University and Director of the Public Health Research Unit of the Laval University Medical Center. He is a specialist in public health (France and Canada) and holds an MD and a Ph.D. in human toxicology. He is internationally recognized for his work among fishing communities, especially in the Arctic and French Polynesia, dealing with risk assessment and management issues as well as nutritional outcomes. He is the scientific director of the WHO Collaborative Center in Environmental Health and is co-director of Nasivvik, a CIHR Research Center for Inuit Health. Eric has been connected to Bermuda since 1998 when he started the Ocean Human Health Center at BIOS. In 2003 his mobile ocean human health laboratories "Atlantis" 2003 carried out a broad range of important health studies - including Bermuda's first fetal cord blood study. The labs returned to Bermuda last year, after spending ten years between the Arctic and the Caribbean for one last study season working in partnership with the Bermuda Government and BIOS on a number of studies.  

Philippe Rouja is a Bermudian cultural and medical anthropologist with over 20 years of experience in participatory ethnographic research assessing the specific benefits and challenges faced by small coastal communities. Philippe's research bridges the social and medical sciences and has worked extensively with local knowledge experts in indigenous maritime communities in Northern Australia, French Polynesia, the Caribbean and Bermuda. Philippe is currently the Principal Scientist in the Department of Conservation Services heading up the section on Marine Heritage and Ocean Human Health managing and partnering in a myriad of heritage and ocean human health related research projects.

Philippe is also a Principle Investigator (since 2003) with the mobile marine ecotoxicology lab Atlantis out of the WHO PAHO collaborating center at the University of Laval Hospital. Philippe has catalogued and published not only a wealth of disappearing local knowledge in distant indigenous communities but also locally here in Bermuda and has a great deal of experience in assessing and communicating the particular benefits and challenges faced by small coastal communities. He specializes in bringing local knowledge to the forefront of science and has published numerous peer reviewed scientific articles with local partners as coauthors.  

6pm: Harbourfront opens for dinner; 6:30pm: Cash bar at Harbourfront (Happy hour prices); 7:30pm: Lecture starts

Members $20; Non-members $25. Tickets available by calling #294-0204 or visiting Oceans Gift Shop at BUEI.

Ticket holders are entitled to 20% off dinner at the Harbourfront before or after the lecture. Please call #295-4207 for reservations and be sure to mention the lecture.




BUEI Calendar of Events:


Sat, Nov 9th @ 3pm – The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne – This is the 5th showing of this popular film about an 82-year old jewelry thief. Tickets $15 and available by calling #294-0204.


Mon, Nov 11th – BUEI will be OPEN for the holiday and at 3pm will hold a lionfish dissection. 


Sun, Nov 17th – BDA Docs and BUEI present Weekend Film Series; 3pm: Herman’s House; 5:15pm: Desert Runners


Thurs, Nov 21st – 7:30pm - Lionfish Taskforce Lecture Series – Join Biodiversity Officer, Alison Copeland, as she discusses Bermuda’s invasive species. Tickets $15 and available at Oceans Gift Shop or by calling #294-0204.


Sat, Nov 23rd – 10-4pm - Harbourside Market – over 30 local artisans will be showcasing their wares at a pre-Christmas market at BUEI. Free admission. Draw takes place for BUEI raffle.


Mon, Nov 25th – 7:30pm - Citizen Science Lecture – Indonesia with Andrew Stevenson. Stunning images and clips from Andrew’s journey to Indonesia. Andrew will also be signing copies of his popular books – makes for a great Christmas gift! Members $20; Non-members $25. Tickets available at Oceans Gift Shop or by calling #294-0204.




  • ·         Tuesdays at 10am: Story-time


  • ·         Tuesdays at 2pm: Guided Tour of the Exhibits