When I reflect back on my life as a marine biologist, as a college professor, I’ve had a wonderful life. I have always loved the ocean and as a marine biologist I couldn’t have a better job. But something was missing. Something important. What is the bigger story of my life?
To be honest, I love abalone and have always been fascinated by this most unusual of snails. In college I truly began to “chase the abalone” which led me to become a field biologist. So these are my confessions; some of my adventures while chasing abalone. Things I normally wouldn’t admit to but looking back were just part of the lore of being a field biologist.
It all boils down to one emotion: passion. That’s how I became a successful marine biologist. I was passionate as a surfer and I translated my passion for surfing and love for the ocean into marine biology. It wasn’t planned, it was actually quite serendipitous, and I have never regretted it. And it all started while hitchhiking.…
As a marine biologist and surfer I have spent a lot of time on and in the ocean. And while surveying the shore, riding waves, scuba diving, or being underwater in a submersible, I have developed a great respect for the sea. She is all-powerful, magnificent, unpredictable, inspiring, and terrifying all at once. And there are moments you face the realization that you are helpless, the sea is in control, that you may die; all you can do is surrender to its power. It is a completely sublime, humbling but ultimately a life changing experience.
Abalone: from Sea to Table. Photo Credits: CBS SF News (left and right); Right Around We Go Blog (center). Abalone are definitely one of the most exquisite things to eat from the sea. Their sublime flavor is both buttery and slightly salty and tastes like a cross between a scallop and calamari. But it is even…
During the summer of 1986 we embarked on the ultimate surfing ecology road trip. Combining my interests of surfing and marine biology we set off looking for abalone and good, uncrowded waves. I had just established study sites and tagged black abalone in northern and southern California. Baja was next.
The year was 1987 and I was searching for a place where black abalone were largely undisturbed so I could complete my dissertation. The island was the perfect location: isolated, difficult to access, federally protected, and surrounded by seal- and shark- infested waters. During my first low tide on the island I was ecstatic: blacks were common and it was the perfect place to conduct a study but there were elephant seals everywhere.