From: Dagmar Fertl (
Date: Mon Apr 03 2000 - 09:11:29 EDT

Im a sophmore in high school and I have been looking for colleges to go to
soon. I want to study dolphin behavior. There is very limited colleges that
have programs in dolphin behavior. I have gone to my high school counselor
and havent gotten much help. I dont know if I should find a college in
psychology or marine biology. Psychology classes seem more drawn towards
human behavior. Where should i seek help? How did you get help to find your

Thanks alot

That's great that you want to study dolphin behavior. I would recommend that
you try a few different things. You're right that high school counselors
sometimes have a hard time counseling for a marine mammal career. I'm going
to also assume that you checked out the WhaleNet links and already found the
Society for Marine Mammalogy web link, about careers in marine mammalogy.
They give some great advice, and it'll be much the same of what I suggest to

I recommend that you focus on a general science background for your
undergrad years. You don't want to be too focused on some specific when you
start out. That's what graduate school is all about. That's what I did...I
have my undergrad degree in biology (actually, pre-vet) and then a Master's
in Wildlife and Fisheries Science. I did take a psych class as an undergrad
and an animal behavior class as a graduate student, but I certainly was not
focused on behavior. You really need to know about your 'beast' before you
can worry about behavior. Much of behavior is in response to your
environment and about physiological responses. I think it's good to have the
whole body perspective, otherwise studying behavior is not as meaningful.
So, start general, then go specific later on. Get a good solid education and
at least you'll always be able to get a job.

I would also recommend that when you're in college, that you try getting an
internship at various places doing marine mammal work, or any place doing
behavior work. This way you can see if you like it, and you have practical
experience as well. EarthWatch is also a good way to get your feet wet.

Best wishes for whatever you end up doing. If you have additional questions,
you can write back.


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