Author: Meghan Rock
I’m a science illustration student. Previously my love for art frequently battled with my love for marine biology and then I stumbled upon this happy little blend of both. But I’m one of the few people in my program with training in marine biology, and the only one with a specialty in marine invertebrate zoology.
This is where I have to come out of the closet. While I appreciate that marine mammals exist and are interesting, I’m gonna be honest, dolphin sightings don’t do it for me. I hate the marine mammal shows at aquaria. I don’t like the sound of whalesong. I think orcas are large bullies. I do not look at the world through sparkly rainbow Lisa Frank dolphin glasses. All these things and more make me a terrible person, and I know that.
But if one more person asks me, when I say I’m a marine biologist, if I’ve studied dolphins I’m going to blow it out my siphon.
I have friends who do study marine mammals, and nothing makes them happier than a good air-breathing, sea-dwelling mammal. I am not one of those people. Give me a microscope and a lot of strange wiggly things under a microscope and I’m as happy as…a clam, I guess.
It’s just that it’s easy to get lost in the megafauna. Not many laypeople in my experience get really excited to see an interesting worm, or a barnacle molt. And there are a lot more worms and barnacles in the ocean than there are orcas. And the diversity that you see in all the other things in the ocean (fish, invertebrates, plankton) is much more interesting to me. 70% of the Earth is covered in water. And it’s filled with life, even if at first it appears barren. Dolphins might be a good way to get people interested in ocean conservation, but it feels superficial to me.
So in the meantime I’ll hope for conservation and tell everyone at the aquarium all about the weird things in the tanks that they would skip by normally. It’s the small rebellions that make the cetacean-mania easier to bear. But not whale-song ringtones. Nothing makes that better.