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.
Virginia Morell is a regular contributor to National Geographic magazine and a contributing correspondent to Science. She has also written for Smithsonian, Discover, The New York Times Magazine, International Wildlife, Audubon, Slate, and Outside, among other publications. She and her husband, writer Michael McRae, live in southern Oregon, on the edge of the Siskiyou Mountains, where they hike every day with their Scotch Collies, Buckaroo and Annie Oakley.
“Virginia Morell has written more than just a “how to” in this marvelous little tome. Becoming a Marine Biologist is chock-full of great practical advice paired with an equally compelling story. Watching Robin Baird, the main research scientist and cetacean expert, navigate and overcome substantial obstacles to realize his dream job made me realize how both fortunate accident and hard work can play equal roles in what we become. That voyage was as thrilling as traveling with him and his research team on his Zodiac, searching for little-known species such as the pantropical spotted dolphin. Morell also provides an amazingly succinct overview of humans’ storied history with — and brutal exploitation of — Earth’s magnificent but vulnerable oceans. This book is for readers who want to imagine a new career, and for those who love the ocean and its fascinating creatures.”
– Cat Warren, New York Times bestselling author of What the Dog Knows
“Morell’s smart, short primer will make marine biology equally intriguing to those already enchanted with the sea’s creatures and to confirmed landlubbers.”