Subject: Career questions

roman (jroman@GNV.IFAS.UFL.EDU)
Tue, 02 Mar 1999 16:36:45 +0100

>     My name is Alison O'Neil and I am in second grade near  Rochester, NY
>and am doing a report on careers and have chosen Marine Mammal
>Biologist.  Some questions I didn't find answers to in the archives  are:
>  1.  What kind of special clothes do you wear on your  job?   2.  Do you
>get to feed the whales?   3.  Do you ever pet any of the marine  mammals?
>  My report is due in a couple of days so I hope you will be  able to
>answer me soon.   Thank you very much for your help!!   (my mom helped me
>type this!)

Dear Alison:

Whale biologists are mostly an informal lot, so we don't tend to dress up
much for work.  Most of us do wear hats, however, to keep warm and protect
us from too much sun (especially those of us who are losing their hair,
like me).  Many of us wear sunglasses to help cut down on the glare at sea.
Otherwise, we generally wear sweaters, jackets, and gloves if the weather
calls for it.  Biologists lucky enough to be working in the tropics
probably tend to wear T-shirts and sneakers.  And though binoculars aren't
exactly clothes, they're indispensible when looking for marine mammals.

As far as feeding and petting marine mammals, I think most biologists tend
to avoid these activities.  It's not a good idea for whales or seals or
manatees to get used to the idea that people will provide affection or
food.  Not all human activity is safe for marine mammals--high speed boats,
for example, can be especially dangerous.  So we don't encourage
interactions between humans and marine mammals.  That's why many of us
became marine biologists, because we love to watch these species in the

Good luck with your report!


Joseph Roman
University of Florida
Wildlife Ecology and Conservation
PO Box 12253
Gainesville, FL 32604
(352) 379-8096