How I began:
When I turned 13, I decided to become an oceanographer.
To prepare for my future career, I majored in geology and biology in college. I also studied Russian, because at that time, the work of Soviet oceanographers had not been translated into English. Despite three years of language study, my recall of conversational Russian consists of “Gde vanya?” (“Where is the bathroom?”). I spent two summers working at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California, for Dr. Francis P. Shepard, the “Father of Marine Geology.” I left college a month before graduating from Tufts University to volunteer on an oceanographic research cruise studying the Gulf Stream. It was a great learning experience, and I found that being seasick did not interfere with my appetite!
Needing a break from academics before starting graduate school, I accepted a job in the Education Department of the newly opened New England Aquarium in Boston. It was there that I realized I wasn’t going to become a scientist. I found I liked having the opportunity to learn a little about this and a little about that. Rather than becoming an expert in one area, I turned to teaching and writing about whatever interests me.
Today, I am an enthusiastic link between scientists and non-scientists: a science translator.
I most enjoy getting to meet the researchers, divers, and underwater explorers I interview for my books. Their enthusiasm for their subject sweeps you up in their work, whether it’s studying tiny copepods floating at the ocean surface or organizing expeditions to search for giant squid in the deep ocean. In doing my research, I’ve had a few undersea adventures of my own: swimming with ten Caribbean reef sharks, lounging with stingrays in Stingray City, diving on a sunken ship, and spending a week immersed with bottlenose dolphins.
For the past two decades, my day job as associate director of Friends of Casco Bay, in South Portland, Maine, allowed me to work to help protect the environmental health of my hometown ocean. Much of my work there, and in my recent books, has been to highlight how climate change is impacting the life in the ocean. Talking about climate change–and acting to do something about it–are topics I increasingly focus on in conversations with kids (who GET it!) and adults (who want to).
That is what makes the ocean so endlessly fascinating–new discoveries every day. Who knows what we–or you–will learn next?
I am excited to have two new books coming out in 2021. I am always working on new book projects. I welcome your suggestions for book ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org or Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mary.cerullo