Question asked by Neal:

In one of your articles, you said that you don’t get to go to sea much anymore. Why? And what do you like about going to sea? Denise, 7th grade


Answered by Dr. Ambrose Jearld, National Marine Fisheries Service

Unfortunately, I don’t go to sea much anymore. Like many scientists do later in their career, I use computers to examine information collected by other researchers. I also go to meetings and conferences to develop educational programs and to meet young scientists.

When I was young I went to the South Carolina sea shore, where my friends and I spent many hours looking across the ocean surface to spot what we called sea horses (dolphins) and flying fish. Exploring the unknown and the mysteries that lie below the sea surface and beyond the horizon is magical.

I have been lucky to sail on many ships, and to be part of a team learning about fish, marine mammals, turtles and other living things. Making measurements on the animals brought up in the nets is exciting. I especially enjoy dissecting fish. By removing their otoliths (ear bones), for example, we can determine their age.

The six-hours-on, six-hours-off work schedule on a ship suits me well. During the day, I like to see birds, whales, and a beautiful sunrise or sunset. At night, the stars and the moon are spectacular. As weird as it may sound, I even liked being out in rough seas. I take many books and lie in my bunk on off-time and read, which I enjoy, and there are no phones or appointments to keep!