Heather Spence, Marine Biologist
Orchestrating Coastal Marine Ecology Investigation and Outreach

Heather Spence, Marine Biologist

Ask a marine biologist

Do you have questions for a marine biologist?

Send them as a comment or as an email (subject: ask a marine biologist).

To read previous questions and answers, click here: “Ask a marine biologist

Question topics in the past have included career choices, marine life identification, deep oceans, coastal ecosystems, coral reefs, sounds, current events, and information for school assignments.

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68 Responses to “Ask a marine biologist”

  1. comment number 1 by: Jeremy

    How do I become a marine biologist?

  2. comment number 2 by: Heather

    There are many ways, and it depends on where you are and what your interests are. Start by working as a citizen scientist, and see what you like to do. Take a look at previous posts for more details about marine biology as a career.

  3. comment number 3 by: Haili

    I am a ^th grade at Otsego and I am doing a career project on marine biologist.I would like to ask you a few questions.
    #1.Do you think your job is hard?
    #2.What is the best and the worst part about being a marine biologist?
    #3.Why did you want to become a marine biologist and have you ever since you were a kid?
    #4.Do you like interacting with the marine animals?
    #5.Do you get to help or work with other marine biologist and if so do you like it?
    #6.What marine biologist are you or what one would you like to be?
    Please write back soon!
    Thank You Very Much,
    Haili Brooks

  4. comment number 4 by: kara agamaite

    1.On a typical day in this position, what do you do?
    2.What training or education is required for this type of work?
    3.What personal qualities or abilities are important to being successful in this job?
    4.What part of this job do you find most satisfying? most challenging?
    5.How did you get your job?
    6.What opportunities for advancement are there in this field?
    7.What entry level jobs are best for learning as much as possible?
    8.What are the salary ranges for various levels in this field?
    9.How do you see jobs in this field changing in the future?
    10.Is there a demand for people in this occupation?
    11.What special advice would you give a person entering this field?
    12.What types of training do companies offer persons entering this field?
    13.What are the basic prerequisites for jobs in this field?
    14.Which professional journals and organizations would help me learn more about this field?
    15.What do you think of the experience I’ve had so far in terms of entering this field?
    16.From your perspective, what are the problems you see working in this field?
    17.If you could do things all over again, would you choose the same path for yourself? Why? What would you change?
    18.With the information you have about my education, skills, and experience, what other fields or jobs would you suggest I research further before I make a final decision?

  5. comment number 5 by: Heather

    Hi Kara, Nice to hear from you.You may be able to have some of your questions answered by looking at previous posts, just click on the link above. Are you working on a school project?

  6. comment number 6 by: Bret

    Hi, I have been obsessed with marine biology for a very lon time. I a doing this awesome project at school on marine biology, but I need to know a little more about the field of marine biology other than fish.
    1)I need to know the hardest obstacle that got in your way of becoming a marine biologist.
    2)I have an estimated salary, but want to know the actual salary and hear it from a marine biologst.
    3)How many job opportunities are available?
    4)What does a marine biologist do on a daily basis?
    I hope you have the answer to a few of these things. Any information on this career will help. Thanks!!!

  7. comment number 7 by: Heather

    Hi Bret, nice to hear from you.

    Obstacle – Hmm… well, I did go to an undergraduate school that was landlocked! But, I did my senior thesis with the one marine biology professor. I did a lot of traveling, and then back at the lab I spent a lot of time making sea water. It was… definitely challenging. :)

    Salary – Sorry but this is not something that I discuss. There is a wide range. I can say that marine biologists generally aren’t in it for the money!

    Job opportunities – Many and varied, there are lots of direct and indirect marine biology related jobs, anything from scuba instructor to scientist at an aquarium to professor at a university to government to companies to…

    What we do – again, depends. Generally tons more time spent on the computer than in the water though – so it goes. :)

    Hope this helps
    Heather

  8. comment number 8 by: Maria

    Hello! my name is Maria and I recently found your website. At school we’re working on a job unit. We must write a letter to a profesional in the career we are interested, and since my dream is to become a marine biologist I would like to address my letter to you. Please let me know if that is possible. Thank you for your time. I know you must have a very busy schedule. Have a wonderful day!

    Thank you very much.

    Maria

  9. comment number 9 by: Heather

    Hi Maria, Sure, send it to me.

  10. comment number 10 by: Kevin

    Dear Ms. Spence,
    My name is Kevin Barrow and I’m a senior at Avon Grove High School. I’m doing a project in my current science class regarding ocean dumping. I’ve already done a good amount of research on the topic, however one requirement of our research paper is to contact an expert. I was wondering if you could provide me with additional facts that I may not be able to obtain online. I was also wondering if you could provide me with some info regarding the career opportunities involving my topic.
    Thank you very much for your time,
    Kevin Barrow

  11. comment number 11 by: Heather

    Certainly there are career opportunities, especially there is room for creativity in finding alternatives. In my work, I encounter issues with cruise ships, hotels, etc. What should they do with their waste?

  12. comment number 12 by: William Beckmeyer

    hi i have a few questions that i hope you can please answer.
    1. the company you work for
    2. number of employees at that location
    3. Job description and how it may have changed you life
    4. education and experience required
    5. entry level earnings
    6. amount of math used in you job
    7. amount of writing used in your job
    8. company policy about being late.
    9. company policy on dress and appearance

  13. comment number 13 by: Heather

    Hi William – glad to hear from you but I do not work for a company, please let me know if you still have questions for me,
    Heather

  14. comment number 14 by: Brianna

    i”m 13 and i”m thinking of becoming a marine biologist when i”m out of high school, but i was wondering what different jobs does a marine biologist do. is it only sampling and stuff like that? or is there more to it than just that?

  15. comment number 15 by: Heather

    There are many different kinds of jobs – some involve field work, some lab work, some are policy-related, some are research based, some educational, some deal with drugs, or animal behavior, or conservation – deep water, coral reefs, climate, shipping, invasive species…. so there is more to it than just that :)

  16. comment number 16 by: Amanda

    Hi, I would like to know if you can answer some interview questions for a 6th grade project.

    1.What are your interests in the area of science?
    When did it first develop and why do you enjoy it?

    2.What schooling or special training did you need?

    3. What are the services that you provide to our community?
    Why is it important to our community?

    4.What are your daily responsibilities?

    5. What special equipment or supplies are needed to do your task?

    6.What are the new developments in this area of science?
    Whats new and exciting coming up?

    7.What is your favorite marine mammal to work with?

    Thank you for your time!

  17. comment number 17 by: Heather

    Dear Amanda,
    Thank you for your questions. I am glad you are interested in marine biology.
    Science is fun for me! I always enjoyed exploring the world around me, examining bugs and leaves and puddles. Many children are wonderful scientists because they are curious.
    When I was in 6th grade, I didn’t like math very much, but then I took a test and in 7th grade I was in a math class that was more interesting. That was important because many science classes require math and I wanted to study science. I took chemistry, physics and biology in high school. In college, I took lots of different courses and then decided to concentrate on biology. In graduate scool, I specialized in marine biology.
    My interests in marine biology include talking to people about how to be considerate of the Earth. I have taught lessons in schools and published papers in journals, all to try to help people be excited about the amazing world around them. When people understand the effects of their actions, they mostly try to do the right things.
    Right now I am in school myself. I have a master’s degree and now I am working on my PhD. My resonsibilities are probably similar to yours, because I want to be sure to get everything I can from my classes and my teachers, and the other students.
    When I do my research, I need boats, diving equipment, computers, and a laboratory where I can return to analyze my data.
    Marine biologists are discovering many new things about the deepest ocean trenches and the pollution that people create and the needs of various sea creatures. We know less about the ocean than we do about outer space, because we have not spent much time or money finding out. But now people are realizing how important it is.
    In my work, I never choose favorites because all the animals are very special. When I studied tiny shrimp, I found out they were interesting individuals with different personalities, even though they were small. Now I am studying dolphins and of course everybody knows they are very smart. The animals I work with teach me many things and I like them all.

  18. comment number 18 by: Emily

    This is for my 6th grade project that i`m doing.

    1.Why are blue whales endangered?
    2.What can you do to save the whales?
    3.When did blue whales become endangered?
    4.Do you guys do anything to help save the blue whales?
    5.How do whales get beached?
    6.Do you think blue whales become extinct one day?
    By the way, do you work with whales?

    Thanks for your time and i hope to hear from you!
    Bye:)

  19. comment number 19 by: Heather

    Dear Emily,
    Thank you for writing to me. I am glad you are interested in finding out about whales.
    Blue whales, and other whales as well, are endangered because they are losing the things they need to be healthy and have babies and survive. They are very large and need a lot of room to live and grow, but even though the oceans are huge, people are causing problems for whales by dumping poisons into the air and water, and destroying some of the special places where they like to raise their babies, or find food. Whales swim long distances, but they cannot find what they need everywhere.
    If you want to save whales, remember that small actions make a difference. You can walk instead of driving, recycle, think about the things you do and how they affect the ocean. Ask questions. Do you know where your electricity comes from? Do you know where your trash goes? The more you know about yourself and your needs, the more you can do to help whales and other marine creatures.
    Whales have been endangered for a long time because people weren’t paying attention to how our actions affected them. By the time we realized they were disappearing, there were not many left. Now scientists study whales and are learning more about them. International groups decide on ways to protect them.
    One simple thing that can be done to help whales is to use less. Less plastic, less electricity, less water, less lawn chemical, less oil – you get the idea? You don’t have to suffer, just reduce waste. The more people who do these things, the more we all help whales.
    Also, of course, we need to be considerate about using the oceans.
    As a marine biologist I am always thinking about the effect of what I’m doing. The more you learn about the oceans, the more you understand how everything is connected.
    Whales get beached when they are sick or injured and cannot swim anymore.
    I hope healthy blue whales will be swimming in the oceans for a long time, and I am happy to tell people how they can help make this possible.
    I do not personally work with blue whales, but if you look at my website, you can see some of the things that I do.

  20. comment number 20 by: Jim Wheeler

    My wife & I just got back from a vacation near Tampa Bay, FL. We rented a boat & went out near Egmont Key for a day in the sun & some dolphin sight seeing. We had seen plenty of dolphins all week long, but on this particular day, we saw what we initially assumed to be just another dolphin cruising around in the sandbar shallows about a mile north west of Egmont Key … but as we approached & looked a little closer, we noticed it was larger than any of the dolphins we had seen all week long, & was moving very slowly & differently than any of the dolphins we had seen. I was able to get one photo of it’s dorsal fin just before it scurried off into deeper water. Even the dorsal fin looked unlike any of the other dolphin dorsal fins we had seen all week. The size, movement, & dorsal fin shape made us start to wonder if perhaps it was actually a large shark rather than a dolphin, but upon getting back home & viewing our one photo on a large screen TV, there appears to be a blow hole on top (like a dolphin or whale would have) … of course the curiousity is killing me. If I sent you a photo of the dorsal fin, do you think you would be able to help me identify what it is? If you’re interested & willing, then please send me an email so I can reply with an attached copy of the photo. Thanks :-)

  21. comment number 21 by: b.lolling

    Hello, I am trying to contact a biologist at your location with specific questions regarding dinoflagellates in a reef system. Please pass this along to whoever can help. Thank you.
    Myself and thousands of other hobbyists have been fighting a never ending battle with this “pest” and many are quitting the hobby due to this. We are trying to devise a way to rid our tanks of this nuisance and are looking for some helpful insight or a cure for this. Here is a link to our current thread on reefcentral.com http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1962886&page=5

    To sum up a couple of the posts, people have tried using h202, increasing PH to 8.5, aggressive protein skimming etc. just to name a few. Please help us if you can. Any and all help you can provide will be of great importance to us. Thank you.

    B. Lolling

  22. comment number 22 by: E.Young

    What do Marine Biologists do in everyday life and I live in Ohio so what can I do to become a Marine Biologist we are not allowed into Lake Erie so I don’t know what to do please comment back and help me out.

  23. comment number 23 by: Heather

    Dear Ethan,
    Thank you for your questions> I am glad you are interested in becoming a marine biologist. Marine biologists work on many things, from deepest seas to shallow coastal waters, from the icy poles to the tropical beaches. You can look at my website to see some of the things that I do.
    In Ohio, you are still connected to the ocean because all the Earth’s water and land is connected. If you want to study the ocean, begin by learning about science, and take classes in chemistry, physics and biology. Learn all you can from books and people. You don’t need to go into Lake Erie to learn about it, but you do need to ask questions and find out what interest you. Then when you are ready for college, you can explore further and decide if marine biology is right for you

  24. comment number 24 by: Jennifer

    Hello Heather I am in 6th grade and doing a project for girl scouts where I need to interview a person in the job field I have interest in . What is the education required for a marine biologist? What is the job description? What is the career path in this job? Thanks Jennifer.

  25. comment number 25 by: Heather

    Dear Jennifer,
    Thank you for writing to me with your questions. I am very glad you want to be a marine biologist. I think it is a great career. I get to do the things I like most. When I was in 6th grade, I thought wanted to be a scientist, but I didn’t like math very much. Then I took a test and in 7th grade I was in a more interesting math class. I liked science and studied chemistry and physics as well as biology. In college I took lots of different classes before I decided to concentrate on biology. Then in my senior year, I did an amazing project on a tiny little shrimp that makes a lot of noise. I was so fascinated, after I graduated, I went to a college near the ocean and got a master’s degree in marine biology.
    Studying a lot is part of being a marine biologist and even when I was not in school I was working and learning. Now I am studying to get my PhD. You don’t have to have a PhD to be a marine biologist but you might want to.
    The job description is almost anything that interests you. And the career path, too. You might like deep water and go far out to sea, or shallow water near the shore. You might like warm water or examine the polar areas. You could work for a drilling company or the government or a non-profit such as Conservation International. Marine biologists can choose from a lot of different jobs, and may spend their time on boats or looking at a computer or in an aquarium.
    If you look at my website, you can see some of the fun things I do.
    Best of luck!
    Heather

  26. comment number 26 by: Allegra

    Hello Heather, my name is Allegra, and I am doing a 7th grade school project on the Great Barrier Reef. I just have some basic fact questions listed below, I hope you are able to answer them.
    What do you think is the top 2 reasons for environmental damage in the Great Barrier reef?
    How much damage can a fully-grown, crown-of-thorns sea star do to a reef?
    What is coral-bleaching?

  27. comment number 27 by: M.sriram

    is whales most powerful?

  28. comment number 28 by: Heather

    Dear Allegra,
    Thank you for your excellent questions. I am always glad when students are interested in the ocean.
    The Great Barrier Reef is very well known, but many people have not even heard of the second largest reef system in the world which is in the Western Hemisphere: the Meso-American reef.
    Reefs are threatened by many things and scientists may not agree about which are the worst since all are a problem. People are responsible for causing damage to reefs, not because we want to, but because we don’t understand the effects of our actions.
    Toxins in the water and air, temperature changes, trash, invasive species, noise and light – all of these can be harmful to coral reefs.
    Coral bleaching is what we call it when part of a reef dies and the coral looks white, like a skeleton, which is what it is. All the animals and plants that were living together because of the coral, die or go away. We know that ‘stress’ causes coral bleaching but stress is just the name for a reaction to a disturbance and there are many things that cause stress, as I mentioned above. In 7th grade, you are already already able to understand a lot about interactions that are harmful. I hope you will continue to be interested in the Earth’s ocean ecosystems, and to explore the best ways to protect them.

  29. comment number 29 by: Ashley Nichole

    Dear Ms.Spence,
    My name is Ashley and it has been my dream to be a marine biologist ever since I was little. I am in the 8th grade and live in Tennessee, so you can imagine it has been hard for me to get in touch with a marine biologist. I am doing a school project and I have emailed you some questuions. Please if you get a chance check and answer my 9 questions by the 24th if possible.
    Thanks for your time,
    Ashley :)

  30. comment number 30 by: Heather

    Dear Ashley,
    Thank you for contacting me. I am glad you want to be a Marine Biologist because it is a great field and there is a lot that needs to be done. Sorry if I did not get back to you in time, I have been very busy. If you still need the information, maybe you can find some answers on my website?
    Please let me know if there’s any way I can help.
    Heather

  31. comment number 31 by: Sam

    Hi Heather or Mrs. Spence, I have some questions for you. I am doing a project on careers and I chose Marine Biology. If you could please answer these questions before next Monday I would be very thankful.
    . What is your job description/what are you responsible to do for your job?
    2. When do you work, how do you work, and where do you work?
    3. What is the training or requirements?
    4. What is the average salary, what are percs and benefits?
    5. What is your future outlook for your job?
    6. How did you decide upon your present occupation?
    7. What do you enjoy most about your occupation? 8. What do you dislike most about your occupation?
    9. What advise would you give a young person interested in your career?
    10. What three adjectives best describe your career?
    Thank you
    Sam

  32. comment number 32 by: Heather

    Dear Sam,
    Thank you for contacting me. I am glad you are interested in a career in marine biology. There is a lot that needs to be done!
    This field is very broad and you can find many different jobs as a marine biologist. For example, you might work for the government or a non-profit or a commercial company, or an educational facility.
    My work is at a university and I do research and teaching. My schedule varies from day to day. Sometimes I am in a classroom, or a lab, and other times I am on a boat or diving under the ocean.
    To become a marine biologist, you need to study a lot of science and after college, you will need at least a Master’s degree. The money that you make will depend on where you decide to work and what you do. It is not a specialty that generally pays as much as say, Law or Medicine or Engineering. I became a Marine Biologist because I love the work, and I didn’t mind not always making a lot of money.
    I get to meet and work with interesting people from all over the world and I get to be outside on and near the ocean. Because there is so much to learn about the environment of the sea, there will always be plenty of work for marine biologists.
    If you want to be a marine biologist, you will need to study and do well in your science classes. Choosing an independent research project can be a way to explore what interests you most. I enjoyed doing science projects in high school and in college I was fortunate to get funding for an intensive research project that gave me a chance to really investigate something I was interested in. I even hired other students to help me, which was also good experience for me. You will need to be able to write clearly, to document your work, and present your results. And you will need to publish in peer-reviewed journals.
    If you love what you are doing, this can be a wonderful career: exciting, rewarding, satisfying.
    Good luck!
    Heather

  33. comment number 33 by: Sam

    I still have a few questions to ask you.
    1. What are your responsibilities?
    2. When and how do you work?
    3. What is your job and future outlook (how many jobs in Marine Biology will be available and how many are available now)
    4. Average salary a year
    5. Masters degree in what?
    Thanks for your time again
    -Sam

  34. comment number 34 by: Hansen

    Hello! Im doing a project for science and i have to talk to a Marine Biologist! Can you just tell me (or E-mail me) what it’s like to be a Marine biologist and what you basically do?
    Thank you so much!

  35. comment number 35 by: DiLa

    Only wanna comment that you have a very decent website , I love the style it actually stands out.

  36. comment number 36 by: Heather

    Dear Sam,
    A career in Marine Biology is interesting because you can select from many different options for your specialty, type of work, etc. It is not really possible to answer your questions exactly, as if we were talking about a specific job. For example, different jobs have different responsibilities. Right now I am doing research and working in a lab. A few years ago I was an editor and writer at an online publication. Both are Marine Biology ‘jobs’.
    I work every day, but my schedule is different from day to day, and I go to different places. There is so much we need to learn and teach and do in Marine Biology, I think there will always be plenty of work. The only problem is that people have to think it is important or there will not be enough money to pay for the work that has to be done.
    There is no ‘average salary’ for a Marine Biologist. How much you are paid depends on the work that you do.
    My Masters degree (MS) is in Marine Biology.
    I hope this helps.
    Heather

  37. comment number 37 by: Frank M.

    My mother went out with her friend kayaking on east greenwich cove, part of narragansett bay in east greenwich. We’ve heard reports of portugese man o wars about. There are these small green almost grape shaped gelatinous spheres. On one end they got these short stringy little tenticle type thing, almost like a stem from a grape vine. Their about the sized of a quarter, In water they retain their shape but when you take them out, they go flat. They don’t sting, she collected them by hand. They are floating everywhere. I’m 23, I’ve never seen anything like them, my mothers lived here for 43 years and she’s never seen them, and my grandfather has lived here for 79 years and has never seen anything like them. I originally thought they were sea gooseberries, to my knowledge though those are clear…these are not. What are they? We were thinking they were man o war eggs. I took a set of 9 photos to aid in identification. I provided my flicker short link as the website to help.

  38. comment number 38 by: Heather

    Hi Frank, Thanks for contacting me about the blobs :) I’m not sure offhand but I’ll take another look and see if I can ID them for you.

    Keep looking out for interesting things, it is often citizen scientists who first discover things like invasive species!
    Heather

  39. comment number 39 by: Jaime

    Hi Heather I was wondering how I would find out the chemical composition of various species of jellyfish, or whatever the rough average is assuming they are roughly the same.

    Specifically:

    nitrogen (N)
    phosphorus (P)
    potassium (K)
    calcium (Ca)
    magnesium (Mg)
    sulfur (S)
    boron (B)
    chlorine (Cl)
    copper (Cu)
    iron (Fe)
    manganese (Mn)
    molybdenum (Mo)
    zinc (Zn)

    Thanks in advance

  40. comment number 40 by: Heather

    Hi Jaime,
    Jellyfish are mostly water, I think estimates are at about 95% water. So if that’s what you are looking for, then Hydrogen and Oxygen are the elements!
    Hope this helps,
    Heather

  41. comment number 41 by: Jaime

    I almost mentioned that I knew they were about 95% water, I should have been more specific. I’m curious about what that mysterious 5% is composed of, and specifically the listed elements. If you were to have 1000 kilograms of dried jellyfish, how many grams/kilograms would you have of the 13 listed elements.

  42. comment number 42 by: Jaime

    I did a search on google scholars and it looks like there is a paper I can buy for a little money that may have some of the data but I wouldn’t know till after I bought it, and was just wondering if I could contact a marine biologist online somewhere that could get me the info.

  43. comment number 43 by: Heather

    Hi Jaime,
    What is this information for? Are you doing a chemistry project? Are you interested for nutritional purposes?
    There is a lot of research published on the chemical composition of cnidarian mesoglea, if that helps your search. E.g. http://icb.oxfordjournals.org/content/14/2/575.abstract
    Also, if there is a particular paper you are interested in, you might contact the authors directly.

  44. comment number 44 by: Jaime

    Well Heather I’ve been aware of the rapidly multiplying jellyfish populations for a few years now. I guess due in large part to overfishing of their natural predators and increased ocean temperatures.

    I was wondering if there was a way to maybe help out the oceans ecosystems to not be totally overrun by the jellies, in a way where you could kill two birds with one stone. I figured they are made of organic material, maybe they would make good fertilizer.

    And with that silly idea I started doing some research as to what elements are important in fertilizer and looking for what elements are found, and in what percentages, in jellyfish!

  45. comment number 45 by: meghan

    hey im doing a report for a school project and i need to learn info about ocean polludents can u help me

  46. comment number 46 by: Heather

    Hi Meghan,
    There are many types of pollutants in the ocean – plastics, fertilizers, noise… You might try looking up about plastic pollution, because it is a huge problem and there are a variety of organizations you can find on the internet that write about it, such as Surfrider Foundation and their program Rise Above Plastics

  47. comment number 47 by: Margarete Sponsler

    You should take part in a contest for just one of the best blogs on the web. I will recommend this website!

  48. comment number 48 by: hcg

    Hello…I really love what you are covering! Your site is a awesome site Thanks and best wishes with the blog. Keep up the good work :)

  49. comment number 49 by: Sarah Bradley

    Heather,
    my name is Sarah Bradley and i am currently in year 11 at st Johns Grammar school in Adelaide SA.
    I am doing a year 12 personal research project on the Great Barrier Reef and i would really appreciate some questions answered by a marine biologist. If i am able to contact you by email that would be really helpful. thank you

  50. comment number 50 by: Matt Mcfarland

    Hi,

    There’s a squid the Japanese eat which comes to life when you apply soy sauce. The dish name is Odori-Don. Some web-sites say it is actually still alive, but many ask, How can something be alive without a head? So they declare it must be dead! Personally I’m thinking it must be alive, but after seeing frog legs animate when salt is applied(or chickens running with their heads cut off!) I am confused. I was thinking a Marine Biologist would know, so is this thing dead or alive?

    Thanks!
    Matt McFarland

  51. comment number 51 by: Heather

    Hi Matt,
    Thank you for contacting me. I am glad you are interested in Marine Biology. The squid in the dish you refer to, Odori-Don, is undoubtedly both dead and alive. Without a head, it is dead as a squid, however many of its cells are still alive and various parts of it are still able to react to stimuli. And of course there are plenty of living microbes. Don’t be confused. The essence of life as we know it, is that it exists everywhere, on many levels.
    I hope this helps.
    Heather

  52. comment number 52 by: Heather

    Sure Sarah, send me your questions.

  53. comment number 53 by: Sarah Bradley

    thank you!
    i was just wondering, what is the future of the great barrier reef if the state that its at keeps getting worse, and pollution keeps effecting it?

    what are people doing to help the barrier reef and its marine life?

    Is there a place i can send money that i have funded from a fundraiser?

    and lastly, what is causing the most damage to the reef, is it pollution, the animals or even divers? or tourism?
    also what marine life is in danger?

  54. comment number 54 by: Heather

    Dear Sarah,
    Thank you for your interest! The Great Barrier Reef and the Meso American Reef are the two largest reef systems in the world. These amazing natural wonders are now threatened by various kinds of pollution. The future of reefs depends a lot on the countries that are closest, so it is especially important for people to learn about these precious resources. My work in Mexico includes talking to students about the coral reefs and helping them understand how to respect the reef and live in harmony with it. Healthy reefs protect the coast from storms and provide plentiful fish for food, so there are many ways that caring for the reef is rewarded. Most of the damage is done because of ignorance. People don’t want to harm the reef, but they don’t know appropriate ways to protect it. My research is to discover more about how to keep reefs and marine life healthy, so we can find ways that humans can adapt our behavior to keep from doing harm.

    We always need money! My research involves many people donating their time and expertise but we still need to pay for equipment. I work with Michelle’s Earth Foundation, which is a 501c3 non-profit founded to honor my friend Michelle who was killed before she could realize her dream of helping the Earth. I would be honored if you wanted to contribute to my work. Checks can be made out to Michelle’s Earth Foundation, and mailed to 801 S. 25th Street, Arlington, VA 22202.

    The most damage to the reefs all over the world is caused by pollution, from human carelessness. We wash everything into the water! And just as on land, when air is dirty and trash accumulates, the more delicate animals and plants die; invasive species and diseases overwhelm fragile ecosystems. Humans also do direct damage by removing natural features to make room for development. Reefs are home to many species (shrimp, fish, lobsters, octopuses, crabs…) and when the reef is compromised, the life that depends on it is also threatened. Humans and birds may not live under water, but we interact with and rely on the reef.

    Certain things that humans do are so thoughtless, they deserve special mention. Many people do not know that exploring for oil on the ocean floor involves making huge noises. We are trying to ‘hear’ where there is oil, but we cause terrible pain and suffering to marine life which is very sensitive to sound. Dolphins can be killed by loud noises.
    It is important for people to understand the effects of their actions. Perhaps if people realize the harm they cause, new methods can be found that are more benign.
    This is why I work in Marine Biology research – because I believe we can find solutions and learn to live in harmony with our ecosystems.

    Heather

  55. comment number 55 by: Adam

    In college, do you want to try to get a marine biology degree right away, or do you want to go for biology and then marine later?

  56. comment number 56 by: Heather

    Hi Adam,
    Both are fine paths to take. I chose to majore in Biology, and then get a Masters in Marine Biology. This has the advantage of having a broad base, and can give you flexibility. As long as you get a solid science degree, with whatever prerequisites you need for the job/program you want to go to, you should be fine.

  57. comment number 57 by: Brooklyn

    Amazing blog!

  58. comment number 58 by: Rebecca

    Hey, im doing a project at school on marine biology and i would like to find out more if that is possible so if you could contact me on my e-mail that would be great of help i would just like to ask you some questions t wont be much i just need a little more information to get a good grade on my project thank you:)

  59. comment number 59 by: Morghan

    Heather,

    My name is Morghan Pereira, and I am currently in 10th grade at Berean Christian High School in California. I am doing a research project on the career of Marine Biology and i would really appreciate it if i could interview you over email. Thank you so much! I look forward to hearing back from you!

    Morghan

  60. comment number 60 by: Heather

    Hi Morghan,
    Sure, just send me your questions,
    Heather

  61. comment number 61 by: Emma

    1) What education did you have
    before, to get this job?

    2) What was you very first job in this
    field?

    3) What’s a typical day for you?

    4) Why did you choose
    Marine biology?

    5) What is your job satisfaction?

  62. comment number 62 by: Roger Gray

    Ms. Spence,
    I hate to bother you. I took a picture of a fish in Lembeh Strait Indonesia. I have not been able to identify it form any fish book. If you have time would you please help me identify this fish. If you do not have time, you my know someone who does. Let me know the email address to download the picture to. Thanks.
    Roger Gray

  63. comment number 63 by: Christine

    Hello Heather,
    My name is Christine and I am a senior in high school, and I was wondering if you could answer some questions I had about a marine biologist for my project Im doing. If you could get back to me asap that would be great.
    1. Whats the greatest difficulty about being a marine biologist?
    2. How many years of college did you go through and what was your major? What college did you go to?
    3. Are there job opportunities available in this field?
    4. What do you enjoy the most about this career?
    5. What are you currently working on?
    6. Do you work with marine life or is most of your time spent in a lab?
    If you could answer 3 or 4 of these questions, I would appreciate it. Thanks for your time

  64. comment number 64 by: Heather

    Hi Christine,
    Thank you for contacting me. My work in Marine Biology is very interesting and I enjoy telling people about it.
    The greatest difficulty about being a marine biologist is having many important things to do and not enough money or time for all of them.
    My studies were fun because I took classes about subjects I wanted to learn. So far I have 9 years of undergraduate (at george Washington University, Biology) and graduate school (at University of Massachusetts and Hunter College, Marine Biology).
    There are a lot of job opportunities available in this field, especially if you consider finding the work yourself and convincing someone to pay you to do it.
    What I enjoy the most about this career is that I am doing work that I love and think is important.
    My research is on dolphin communication. I am also doing bioacoustic research on how sounds indicate ecosystem health.
    My work is with marine life, both in the ocean ands in an aquarium. Of course I also spend time on a computer in a lab.
    Good luck!
    Heather

  65. comment number 65 by: Heather

    Hi Roger, you can send it to me at my email address posted on the contact page. If I don’t know what it is I can send it to some colleagues of mine who might.
    Heather

  66. comment number 66 by: Hannah

    My name is Hannah and I am really wanting to be a marine biologist but am curious about many things…like what GPA do you need? What are some physical, emotional, and mental obstacles?…and a ton more questions if you could email me so I could ask you all the rest of the questions I have for you that would be great.
    Hannah

  67. comment number 67 by: Kat

    Hi Heather,I’m Kat and I’ve been trying to figure out what type of tube worm this is for over a month. It’s stumped me, and my college marine bio teacher, and his colleagues, and anyone else I’ve asked. http://imgur.com/a/sejPs#0
    I found it in Avalon bay on Catalina island in mid november this year. I’ve lived on the island all my life and go tidepooling a lot but never before have I seen that. The first time I saw it there was only one fairly large one. Then when i came back a week or 2 later to see I saw them everywhere and was able to collect a lot of empty ones. Do you know what it is? Thanks!

  68. comment number 68 by: alexaweidanz15

    Hi my name is Alexa, and I am a freshman at GWU. I was researching GW’s program for biology because I am interested in marine biology. However, I am also interested in political science and history. I don’t know whether to pursue the obvious GW political track or try my hand at something I’m very interested in, yet know little about. I know I have a passion for marine life and I would want to be involved in researching sharks and orcas. I do not know the best way to go about this. Do you have any tips on how to go about becoming involved in marine biology at GWU and what I can do to know it is the career I want to pursue? Thank you!

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