A fascinating guide to a career in marine biology written by bestselling journalist Virginia Morell and based on the real-life experiences of an expert in the field—essential reading for someone considering a path to this profession.
For the last two decades, Dr. Robin Baird has spent two months out of each year aboard a twenty-four-foot Zodiac boat in the waters off the big island of Hawai'i, researching the twenty-five species of whales and dolphins that live in the Pacific Ocean. His life may seem an impossible dream—but his career path from being the first person in his family to graduate college to becoming the leading expert on some of Hawai'i's marine mammals was full of twists and turns.
Join Baird aboard his Zodiac for a candid look at the realities of life as a research scientist, from the ever-present struggles to secure grants and publish new data, to the joys of helping to protect the ocean and its inhabitants. You’ll also learn pro tips, like the unexpected upsides to not majoring in marine biology and the usefulness of hobbies like sailing, birdwatching, photography, and archery. (You’ll need good aim to tag animals with the tiny recording devices that track their movements.)
Becoming a Marine Biologist is an essential guide for anyone looking to turn a passion for the natural world into a career. This is the most valuable informational interview you’ll have—required reading for anyone considering this challenging yet rewarding path.
Morell (Animal Wise), a National Geographic contributor, adds an inviting consideration of the marine biology field to Simon & Schuster's Masters at Work series. She concentrates on Robin Baird, a well-known specialist in marine mammals who has studied Hawaii's whales and dolphins for two decades. Baird reveals to Morell that, as a teenager, he was unsure of his future. His choppy route toward a sustainable career included finding mentors, raising funds for research, and branching out briefly to birds before returning to marine mammals. His work, as described here, involves building an identified collection, keeping data sheets, collaborating, tagging, and paying close attention to detail. Morell also traces the history of marine biology back to its father, Aristotle, and to the likes of Captain Cook, Rachel Carson, and Jacques Cousteau. Summarizing the profession's evolution, she observes that, while it may have begun in "adventure and discovery," it quickly shifted over to "conservation and management." For those seriously interested in the field, she lists career resources to call upon. Morell's smart, short primer will make marine biology equally intriguing to those already enchanted with the sea's creatures and to confirmed landlubbers. Gillian MacKenzie, MacKenzie Wolf.