Thursday, April 01, 2010

The Shark Lady

I realized last Monday night while sitting in the audience at the New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS), that I probably would not have made a very good marine biologist......and to think that for years, it was what I told everyone I wanted to be.

The presentation was by Sylvia Earl, aka "The Shark Lady," and she's been around a long while.
The NYAS has been running a series of lectures given by women scientists, to encourage young women scientists, and those of us chicks who just have a general interest in science. Of course there are men at these lectures too, but the focus is on women who have become scientist and how their interest was nurtured to allow them to become successful in their chosen career.

Sylvia Earl is the
Jacque Cousteau of women a friend recently informed me. I had no idea. My interest in marine biology was so long ago, that I can't say I've kept up with the times at all. Although I was there having bought the series of tickets, there were women in the audience who were obviously thrilled to be there, and upon approaching the microphone at the end of the lecture to ask questions, positively gushed, while telling Sylvia what a huge influence she was in their lives. (Many of these women were very knowledgeable about sharks too.)

Perhaps if it had been
Jacque Cousteau I would have been hugely impressed, and I feel awful and disloyal saying that I knew so little about one of my own gender who is so obviously well known and respected in the field of marine biology. Heck, the woman has done all kinds of stuff for National Geographic and the American Museum of Natural History, and holds the record for the deepest dive by a women (I believe).............I should be more impressed!

However, whether or not I was impressed
isn't the point, what is, was my realization that my long ago dream would probably not have ended up being a career path I would have wanted to stay on. Sylvia was quite excited to describe in detail what it was like to, oh..... dissect a shark to see if it gave birth to live young, or released eggs. It was at that moment it dawned on me that I would not have liked doing that. I hated dissecting frogs in middle school and fetal pigs in college! Sylvia talked about peering into the murky water at a NYC aquarium while growing up, and wanting to be in that dark green water for real. Probably not something I would have enjoyed either. In retrospect, I think I might have made a kick-ass marine ecologist or environmentalist. But, we'll never know. I'm a's what I do and will probably always be what I do. Perhaps in my next life some new career path will could happen.......

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