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View Full Version : So you want to be a Marine Biologist.



NeuroFizz
07-28-2008, 10:24 PM
A window into my other-world...

http://www.scq.ubc.ca/so-you-want-to-be-a-marine-biologist/ (http://www.scq.ubc.ca/so-you-want-to-be-a-marine-biologist/)

Unique
07-29-2008, 02:50 AM
I never really wanted to be a marine biologist because:

1) squishy, icky, stinging, biting things
2) the ocean - it's really deep!
3) I can get all the seafood I need at Food Lion.

Have fun with your squishy, stinging, biting things, Neuro. ;)

alleycat
07-29-2008, 02:55 AM
Darn. You've dashed my dream.

I wanted to be a marine biologist so I could drink gallons of red wine while sailing around the world on a really cool ship. I guess it's too late to also have John Denver sing a song about me.

Silver King
07-29-2008, 06:45 AM
I like this part:

...please listen carefully, while you may want to talk to dolphins, dolphins do not want to talk to you. Thatís right. Mostly, dolphins want to eat fishes and have sex with other dolphins. And that pretty much cuts you out of the loop, doesnít it? Oh, I know that there are the occasional dolphins that hang around beaches, swim with humans and seem to be chummy, but these are the exceptions. You donít judge the whole human race by the people who attend monster car rallies, do you?I'm not a marine biologist, but I've spent some time in and around waters with dolphins (bottlenose). They are one of the most fearsome, aggressive mammals you will ever want to encounter in the wild. They appear unassuming and docile, with that fake smile, which masks a most cunning predator that could tear people to bits if they were so inclined.

One time, while I was wade-fishing along a flat about a hundred yards from shore, a pod of dolphin entered the cove. They spread out, herding mullet along, and then worked inward and fed upon what they'd amassed. I was in their way. Mullet ran and jumped, fleeing all around me. A big male, after nearly ramming into me, veered away swiftly. Then he stopped, rose part way out of the water, and smashed his tail onto the surface.

I can take a hint as well as anyone, and I got the hell out of there as fast as I could.

RLB
07-29-2008, 07:00 AM
I've never wanted to be a marine biologist per se, but how else can you score the sweet gig at the aquarium doing the dolphin show? That does look tempting. Oh, and feeding the penguins, even though their habitats always stink.

CBumpkin
07-29-2008, 07:04 AM
When I was young I wanted to be a marine biologist more than anything else. I wasn't even disillusioned about "talking with the dolphins," although I did get to swim with one for quite awhile while on vacation in Turks and Caicos. I wanted to be a marine biologist simply because I loved the sea and the creatures that live in it. I wanted to be a part of studying them. Not bad reasons, all in all.

The problem was, I was very naive and talked out of my dreams by my parents when they said, "They already have enough marine biologists. Find something else to do." (Yeah, not very supportive.) That "advice" ended up being the killer of many of my dreams. I wanted to do a lot of things but remembered that "there are already enough of them and they don't need any more."

Finally, at 42, I'm just coming out of my zombie-like, brain-washed existence of being a robotic 9 to 5 clone and am pursuing what it is that I want to do. Thanks mom and dad!

Joe270
07-29-2008, 08:37 AM
I graduated from a college which had a Marine Biology degree. From what I recall, the graduates who could find a job in their degree field were with Marine Fisheries.

All they did was count fish all day for pretty much minimum wage.

All of them I knew went on to grad school to get a different degree so they could get a decent job.

NeuroFizz
07-29-2008, 03:41 PM
I graduated from a college which had a Marine Biology degree. From what I recall, the graduates who could find a job in their degree field were with Marine Fisheries.

All they did was count fish all day for pretty much minimum wage.

All of them I knew went on to grad school to get a different degree so they could get a decent job.
Not far from the truth, Joe. It's really necessary to get an advanced degree to get a decent wage. Although the article is tongue-in-cheek, it speaks some truth (and has some of that needed self-ridicule that I like to use when I look in a mirror). I cringe at some of the wide-eyed freshmen who think marine biology is only Cousteau-type investigations about whales, dolphins and sharks. They usually don't make it through the first semester of general biology.


When I was young I wanted to be a marine biologist more than anything else. I wasn't even disillusioned about "talking with the dolphins," although I did get to swim with one for quite awhile while on vacation in Turks and Caicos. I wanted to be a marine biologist simply because I loved the sea and the creatures that live in it. I wanted to be a part of studying them. Not bad reasons, all in all.

The problem was, I was very naive and talked out of my dreams by my parents when they said, "They already have enough marine biologists. Find something else to do." (Yeah, not very supportive.) That "advice" ended up being the killer of many of my dreams. I wanted to do a lot of things but remembered that "there are already enough of them and they don't need any more."

Finally, at 42, I'm just coming out of my zombie-like, brain-washed existence of being a robotic 9 to 5 clone and am pursuing what it is that I want to do. Thanks mom and dad!
I faced the same thing--twice. Once was when I decided to get a degree in Biology. My older brother was the primary inflictor--he had a degree in business and just landed a job at a bank as an assistant manager. "What are you going to do with a degree in Biology" was his rally cry (with hearty laughter). My parents picked up the pitchfork, though. The second time was when I told my parents I'd been accepted by a good grad school. They felt I was going to lose important salary and benefit ground delaying employment by so many years, and they showed their displeasure by tellling me I was on my own financially. I had to work three jobs through all of grad school (in addition to doing all the research and dissertation stuff).

Glad you are going for your "wants" now, C.

ErylRavenwell
07-29-2008, 03:51 PM
And wipe that smirk off your face, sit up straight and for goodness sakes stop fidgeting!

Scary. Right on spot. Caught me off guard.

David Erlewine
07-29-2008, 03:59 PM
I thought Costanza exposed the world of marine biologists for what it really is.

NeuroFizz
07-29-2008, 04:27 PM
I never really wanted to be a marine biologist because:

1) squishy, icky, stinging, biting things
2) the ocean - it's really deep!
3) I can get all the seafood I need at Food Lion
There are frequent gastronomical benefits to working at a marine lab. I have friends who work on a tiny ganglion that controls the rhythmic grinding of the lobster stomach. They have a freezer full of lobster tails--everyone in the lab is burned out on it. And, a few summers back at my summer research home, I had a cottage next to a guy who studied abalone. He had to sacrifice several of the animals for his research, but his needs didn't include the foot tissue. We were careful to dispose of that tissue in the proper way...

The Marine Invertebrates summer class at that marine lab has an end-of-class tradition--making five (or six) phylum stew (no vertebrate tissue allowed). I don't think they've ever gone to seven phyla.

Albedo
07-29-2008, 04:36 PM
There are frequent gastronomical benefits to working at a marine lab. I have friends who work on a tiny ganglion that controls the rhythmic grinding of the lobster stomach. They have a freezer full of lobster tails--everyone in the lab is burned out on it. And, a few summers back at my summer research home, I had a cottage next to a guy who studied abalone. He had to sacrifice several of the animals for his research, but his needs didn't include the foot tissue. We were careful to dispose of that tissue in the proper way...

The Marine Invertebrates summer class at that marine lab has an end-of-class tradition--making five (or six) phylum stew (no vertebrate tissue allowed). I don't think they've ever gone to seven phyla.

Okay, you've got me intrigued. Which phyla? (Besides Arthropods and Molluscs)

I have the sense that my culinary horizons are about to be broadened.

WendyNYC
07-29-2008, 04:54 PM
So NeuroFizz, any advice for a parent of...oh, say, a nine-year-old girl...who wants to be a marine biologist?

NeuroFizz
07-29-2008, 04:59 PM
They always include a jellyfish (excluding the stinging parts; Cnidaria) and a ctenophores (comb jelly = Ctenophora), an segmented worm of some species (Annelida--sometimes not included), and we have five. Sea cucumber muscle is a good source of Echinodermata. Sometimes they get fancy with some of the minor phyla--Chaetognaths are thrown in, but they are so small it's almost cheating. I've heard of brachiopod muscle being included as well (Brachiopoda).

The broth has to have a strong flavor, and it's usually not necessary to salt it.

Pagey's_Girl
07-29-2008, 05:07 PM
When I was young I wanted to be a marine biologist more than anything else. I wasn't even disillusioned about "talking with the dolphins," although I did get to swim with one for quite awhile while on vacation in Turks and Caicos. I wanted to be a marine biologist simply because I loved the sea and the creatures that live in it. I wanted to be a part of studying them. Not bad reasons, all in all.

The problem was, I was very naive and talked out of my dreams by my parents when they said, "They already have enough marine biologists. Find something else to do." (Yeah, not very supportive.) That "advice" ended up being the killer of many of my dreams. I wanted to do a lot of things but remembered that "there are already enough of them and they don't need any more."

Finally, at 42, I'm just coming out of my zombie-like, brain-washed existence of being a robotic 9 to 5 clone and am pursuing what it is that I want to do. Thanks mom and dad!

Allow me to say - GO FOR IT!!!

My father was always as "encouraging" about my writing dreams. He more than once remarked that I was preparing for a brilliant career as a garbage collector, because that's all I'd be able to find with a journalism degree. Sheesh. There are days when I feel like I'm being deprogrammed from a lifetime of negativity...

But I am, slowly. Which is how I ended up here in the first place...

ETA - Great. Now I want to hit Red Lobster for lunch...

Maryn
07-29-2008, 05:07 PM
I grew up in southern Arizona and never thought about marine biology at all. Deep water is scary. I'll just splash here in the shallows, okay?

Maryn, who considered watershed management, though

NeuroFizz
07-29-2008, 05:09 PM
So NeuroFizz, any advice for a parent of...oh, say, a nine-year-old girl...who wants to be a marine biologist?
Absolutely. There are great shows on (cable) television that cover more than the big three (whales, dolphins and sharks). Aquaria are great places to see a full range of marine critters and they usually have ecological displays, which shouldn't be passed up to see the stingrays flying through the water in the large tank. The children shouldn't get their love of Marine Biology from Sea World-type places. Parents should emphasize that these animals are being held in artificial enclosures and are specifically trained to perform on-command behaviors that they typically express in the wild. Working in these places as animal caregivers or trainers is NOT marine biology (in my opinion). Current events will also help feed into a love for marine biology (whether one goes into the field or not). For example, the role of the oceans in buffering global warming, CO2 emissions, and other anthropogenic influences on the globe are interesting and should emphasized. If your child expresses an interest, help her with a marine biology-related science fair project. Take her to the coast for more than just beach sitting. A little early interest can plant a seed. I can still remember my first trip to McClure's Beach in Northern California--it was a fifth grade field trip. I credit Miss Steinberg for flicking the spark of my interest in marine organisms on that very field trip. During the year, she also flamed my interest in breasts since she was young, attractive, and "stacked" (to use terminology of the time). I thank Miss Steinberg for lighting both of those fires (all three if you are thinking of the paired items individually).

WendyNYC
07-29-2008, 05:17 PM
Thanks, that's great advice. We have the "Blue Planet" series on DVD and she watches it over and over. I'll be on the lookout for more. I'm in the process of looking for a good summer camp program with a marine biology focus.

She loves it now and I'm trying to be supportive. Let's see if it sticks.

NeuroFizz
07-29-2008, 05:19 PM
Thanks, that's great advice. We have the "Blue Planet" series on DVD and she watches it over and over. I'll be on the lookout for more. I'm in the process of looking for a good summer camp program with a marine biology focus.

She loves it now and I'm trying to be supportive. Let's see if it sticks.
One cool aspect of my job is the desire to "replace myself" with young scientists/marine biologists. This is the whole nature of grad school (and the undergrad major). Let me know how I can help.

Gehanna
07-29-2008, 05:36 PM
The closest I've ever come to being a Marine Biologist is the time I hand fed fried chicken to a school of fish while I was snorkeling in the ocean. I ended up with the worst gluteal sunburn of my life!

The way those fish were going to town on my fried chicken nearly had me convinced they were salt water piranha. :D

Sincerely,
Gehanna

Albedo
07-29-2008, 06:39 PM
They always include a jellyfish (excluding the stinging parts; Cnidaria) and a ctenophores (comb jelly = Ctenophora), an segmented worm of some species (Annelida--sometimes not included), and we have five. Sea cucumber muscle is a good source of Echinodermata. Sometimes they get fancy with some of the minor phyla--Chaetognaths are thrown in, but they are so small it's almost cheating. I've heard of brachiopod muscle being included as well (Brachiopoda).

The broth has to have a strong flavor, and it's usually not necessary to salt it.

Mmm, chaetognaths... I loved watching the giant ones swim around the tank. But I never suspected they might be tasty as well!

Albedo
07-29-2008, 06:43 PM
P.S. I used the word "ctenophore" in my WIP tonight. I love that word.

Neurotic
07-30-2008, 03:26 AM
I remember when I was much, much younger the thing I loved most about the aquarium near where I lived was that the fish were on the other side of the glass. Then I saw an octopus icking (it's a word... now) along the side of its tank and I didn't even like that any more.

No, I'm afraid a crustacean allergy and an extreme dislike for the smell of just about everything that comes from the sea always made marine biology an unlikely career choice. I'll stick to the shallows with Maryn.

scope
07-31-2008, 03:42 AM
I worked with Jacques Cousteau and his staff on a series of books. Cousteau is (was) an absolute genius whose wealth of knowledge went far beyond marine biology and invention. But to the point, most all of the people who worked for Cousteau (Jacques Cousteau Enterprises) were incredibly intelligent when it came to marine life and such, and ALL had very advanced degrees. Some made a decent wage, but nothing more, and from what I could judge, none worked only for money. They all had two things in common: Their love and calling was marine biology, and they idolized Cousteau. I will say this, I found them all to be marvelous, helpful people - and they always had Cousteau's back. Incredible experience.

wyntermoon
07-31-2008, 04:08 AM
One time, while I was wade-fishing along a flat about a hundred yards from shore, a pod of dolphin entered the cove. They spread out, herding mullet along, and then worked inward and fed upon what they'd amassed. I was in their way. Mullet ran and jumped, fleeing all around me. A big male, after nearly ramming into me, veered away swiftly. Then he stopped, rose part way out of the water, and smashed his tail onto the surface.

I can take a hint as well as anyone, and I got the hell out of there as fast as I could.

Can you blame them, you stud. ;)
http://www.t-lay.com/images/mullet.jpg

Silver King
07-31-2008, 04:19 AM
Can you blame them, you stud. ;)
http://www.t-lay.com/images/mullet.jpg
In my defense, I was wade fishing up to my waist, and there were no human life forms growing out of my backside at the time. Oh, and I've since cut my hair to a much shorter length!

wyntermoon
07-31-2008, 04:29 AM
For a minute there, I thought you were giving birth!

Silver King
07-31-2008, 04:59 AM
For a minute there, I thought you were giving birth!
Not only that, but fully prepared to lactate as well, or so it would seem by my prominent mammary display.

So do any fish breast feed their spawn? Hmmm? Or is that relegated only to mammals?

Don't forget I already admitted earlier I'm not a marine biologist...

Silver King
07-31-2008, 05:46 AM
It has been brought to my attention that my family's picture has been shared without my knowledge. That's all right. We've had three other children since then.

wyntermoon
07-31-2008, 05:49 AM
They're under the hair?

Silver King
07-31-2008, 05:52 AM
They're under the hair?
Oops, sorry. It looked just like my early family days. :D

Should I delete it???

wyntermoon
07-31-2008, 05:53 AM
Probably. I'll never be able to tell my current husband why I'm pictured with you and Elroy.

ETA: And we have five children, Dino, FIVE. Count yer toes again, honey.

Silver King
07-31-2008, 06:04 AM
...ETA: And we have five children, Dino, FIVE. Count yer toes again, honey.
Five? Only FIVE? Slacker.

I'm reaching back. WAYYYY back, but my great grandmother had twenty-three children. No kidding. 23!

Top that! ;)

wyntermoon
07-31-2008, 06:06 AM
OW! My uterus!


Er, Mr. Fizz, sorry for the hijack. I'll put Dino back in the shed now. Come on, boy!

Silver King
07-31-2008, 06:50 AM
...Er, Mr. Fizz, sorry for the hijack. I'll put Dino back in the shed now. Come on, boy!
*struggles against the leash, yearning for what awaits him during that soft, long night under the stars, silver moons punching through the darkness so far away, like forever it seems, swimming against the tide, upward through a celestial sea, up and up and up, then floating on a stream of weightlessness, alone, without any more cares for the world below.*

wyntermoon
07-31-2008, 07:38 PM
Good lord, I killed him.

oops.

NeuroFizz
07-31-2008, 08:07 PM
Contrary to popular opinion, I'm not dead--just working with my head down... No problem with the hijack. The thread was sinking fast anyway, although I really appreciate all of the comments. And, about Cousteau--he was a special friend to all who love the sea, and he served a great function in education about marine biology. However, students shouldn't see what he did as a goal when going into an academic program in Marine Biology. They will be sorely disappointed that they can't trot around the globe and do cool film studies like Cousteau did. The world of the standard Marine Biologist is mundane compared to that of individuals who spend their days making documentary films (extremely valuable as they are). He was one of a kind because of his approach, and the quality of the people he worked with.

veinglory
07-31-2008, 08:09 PM
I've never wanted to be a marine biologist per se, but how else can you score the sweet gig at the aquarium doing the dolphin show? That does look tempting. Oh, and feeding the penguins, even though their habitats always stink.

The fatality rate of marine show trainers is pretty high, and the pay rate is pretty low.