Dear Oceanbites Reader,
Whether you regularly follow Oceanbites or this is the first post you are reading, you know we are all about ocean science here! My love of the ocean is why I have spent the past almost 3 years writing for and administering this blog. And I truly believe each and every human being should feel a connection to, and gratitude for, the ocean. But I might be biased. For me, the marine world is one best described with words like wonder, magic, discovery, bounty, mystery, tranquility, and power. I am awed and fascinated by the ocean’s vastness and depths, curious about its creatures, and transfixed by its motion and sound. I am grateful to live and work on the coast because anytime I need the world to melt away, I can go to the ocean. The ocean has value beyond what can be quantified in monetary terms or economic benefits. Those ecosystem services certainly shouldn’t be ignored, but we should look beyond them. Oceanbites writers have shared their gratitude for the oceans before and one laid out 7 reasons we should all be thankful for it. So I am going take a slightly different tack for the rest of this post.
This year, in addition to many other things in my life, I am grateful for science. With undergraduate and Masters degrees in biological and environmental science, I have had the incredible opportunity to spend my academic career learning about nature and the world. And, even better, I am now lucky enough to spend my life working in and around the ocean protecting our natural resources. But I am not only grateful that marine science exists so that I can have a career doing what I’m passionate about. It’s a deeper gratitude than that, honestly. I am grateful that the field of science exists because it provides an opportunity to satisfy our curiosity about the universe as a whole and the ocean in particular.
Science gives people an outlet for their drive to know more, to discover, to question. And beyond that it gives us a process to follow to learn how things work. The scientific method is a beautiful thing. It outlines a natural and logical flow from an observation (noticing something) to a question (wondering whether that something exhibits a pattern) to a test (designing an experiment to see whether it exhibits a pattern) to analysis and only then to drawing a conclusion. In addition, since scientists record each step of their process and analysis, the tests can be repeated over and over again. It is a highly specific and regimented way to accumulate knowledge. But in reality, it is something most people do everyday. It is how they conclude they have formed a bad habit (like biting their nails when they’re nervous) and how equipment is tested to ensure it works and how things get fixed (or troubleshot) when they do not. These questions and tests drive innovation, ingenuity, and discovery. The sciences allow us to understand this planet we call home, its waters, and the organisms that live in them. I am grateful to have a structure in place and a procedure to follow (yes, I may be a bit Type A). But I am also grateful for how much freedom the scientific method allows. The scientific methods requires creativity at every step, from having the eye to notice something, to coming up with a good question, to designing the best way to answer it (sometimes inventing new instruments), and onward. Science is, to me, the marriage of logic and creativity. Without both, we learn nothing. And when humans learn nothing, we feel defeated because I am convinced that we all feel drawn by curiosity to discover something new. Whether we choose science as a career or not, I think all people are scientists.
Since I could write about my love of science and its beauty forever, I’m going to take this opportunity to stop there. I must also express my gratitude to my family, my teachers, mentors, advisors, and friends who instilled in me and encouraged my love of science. All these people play a powerful role in personal and professional development and I thank those who fulfill this role for others as well. I’m thankful for all the scientists who came before and all those who continue in their pursuits now.
I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving! And I hope you’ll take this opportunity to reflect on all that you have to be grateful for, including the oceans and science!
All the best,
P.S. Are you grateful for science, too? Share your reasons in the comments!
I am a graduate of the University of Notre Dame (B.S.) and the University of Rhode Island (M.S.). I now work in southwest Florida, contributing to the management of an estuary. I am fascinated by the wonders of nature, the land-sea interface, ecology and human disturbance (and solutions!). On a personal level, I am a chocoholic, love to travel and be outside, and relax by reading or spending time with my emotionally needy dogs!