Erich Hoyt interview

From: Erich Hoyt (
Date: Sat Dec 06 2003 - 04:03:26 EST

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    >From: "Lindsay O." <>
    >Subject: RE: Interview
    >Date: Fri, Dec 5, 2003, 7:52 PM

    > I really really appreciate it, Erich. If you could finish it by December 14
    > that would be great. I have attached the questions in a Word file to make it
    > a little easier for you. Also, if you want to add anything else that would
    > be fine. Thanks!
    > -Lindsay
    >>From: "Erich Hoyt" <>
    >>To: "Lindsay O." <>
    >>Subject: Interview
    >>Date: Fri, 05 Dec 2003 10:06:09 +0000
    >>Hi Lindsay
    >>Yes it's ok to interview me by email. My main background has been working
    >>orcas, or killer whales; whale watching worldwide; marine protected areas
    >>for cetaceans worldwide. Send the questions all in a single email so i can
    >>do it all at once, and also tell me how soon you need it.
    >>Best regards
    >>Erich Hoyt

    [attachment is identical to text below, but it's formatted]

    Erich Hoyt answers

    What made you want to become a Marine Biologist?
     Working on a film on orcas and wanting to work with them in much greater
    depth. One thing led to anotherŠ
    How long have you been in Marine Biology?
     30 years
    Where did you attend college?
     No university until I did a mid career fellowship at MIT and Harvard for
    one year. Before that, my education was the Œuniversity of the seaı
    What was your major in college?
     When I did my 1 year fellowship, I focussed on evolutionary biology.
    Do you suggest going for higher education after college?
     Yes! I think it can be valuable if youıre keen to do it, and it does give
    you a way to get into the field.
    What would you say is the general income for a Marine Biologist with a
    college degree? A Masters? A PhD?
     I have neither so I really donıt know. My income is all project based. Iıve
    never worked for anyoneŠSome years you can make only $10-15,000 or you can
    make $75,000. I know some marine biologists who have used their experience
    and skills to get senior govt or industry positions that must pay $100,000+.
    Do you know of any books that you would recommend for reading?
     Many. But why not start with the Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals (Academic
    Press, 2002) and Randall Reeves et al 2002 Audubon Guide to Marine Mammals
    (Knopf, 2002)
    Could you describe your work\research and how you became interested in it?
     I got interested in orca research doing a film in the early 1970s. I ended
    up going back to spend time with orcas over 10 summers, then wrote the first
    book on orcas in the wild. This led to work on whale watching worldwide and
    other books and projects (see my bio at the Firefly site). In 1999, I
    started a project on orcas in Russia which is a collaboration between
    Russian (new colleague and friend) and Japanese (old colleague and friend
    Iıve worked with in Japan) researchers and myself. I co-direct the project.
    What is your work schedule (hours per week & type of work it includes)?
     60 hours a week. Wide range of writing, research, but not much field work.
    Where have you traveled?
     40 countries for lectures and work. I especially enjoy working in Japan,
    Iceland and Russia. I have returned often to the first two.
    How do you find jobs and research grants?
     Networking. Getting background on projects and then applying very
    carefully. It can be a struggle, but you have to keep at it.
    What is your dream research opportunity?
     Working on some whale or dolphin species and in some country where there
    has never been such work before ­ opening up something new with pioneer
    What personal qualities are important in this career?
     Being friendly and cooperative with other people and in the field, yet able
    to be persistent and tenacious with oneıs work.
    What skills are needed?
     Depends on what aspect of marine biology you go into, ie if itıs more of a
    field position or something in an office. But at least some part of your
    career you will need to have good field research skills. Ability to work
    with other people in a helpful way in often difficult circumstances. Sailing
    or other boat skills can help. Camera skills for doing photo-ID work. Sound
    recording skills if you are working on acoustics. Good wide-ranging computer
    skills are probably the most important. Inquisitiveness. Good reading and
    research skills.
    What are the advantages and disadvantages of this profession?
     Advantages are the excitement of new research and being in the field with
    the animals, but it also means sometimes long periods away from home and in
    uncomfortable conditionsŠ
    Is there anything about your job that you wish you could change?
     Wish I could accomplish more in fewer hours. It always seems to take so
    much more time to accomplish things than I expect.
    What is your most memorable moment being a Marine Biologist?
     I suppose meeting orcas close up in the wild in those early summers. The
    image has stayed with me, and I renew it whenever I go out to sea.
    What advice would you give for a young person interested in Marine Biology?
     Never give up on your dream! But be prepared that your dream may take you
    on a journey with new ideas and possibilities, as you pursue it; your dream
    will changeŠ

    In case itıs useful, there is a biography of me on this internet site:

    Good luck!

    Erich Hoyt

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