Jean-Luc – Marine biologist
If you love to travel, enjoy scuba diving and are interested in marine life then why not consider a career in marine biology? Jean-Luc Solandt gives you a taste of what it might be like if you choose to follow in his footsteps.
Who or what inspired you to become a marine biologist?
I became interested in science after learning about Jacques Cousteau’s explorations – they made the marine world seem smaller, yet wondrous. In my work today as a biodiversity policy officer at the Marine Conservation Society I help to safeguard this wondrous world.
How did you get to where you are today? (i.e. qualifications and career route)
At school I found science breathtaking, especially anatomy and functional design. As my passion and interest for science grew I did a marine biology degree at Liverpool University, before spending a year volunteering on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia where I surveyed reef fish and monitored the hard corals. I then came back to the UK to carry out a PhD at the University of London studying the effects of over-fishing on marine life.
Does your work give you the opportunity to travel?
My interest in conservation has taken me all around the world. I have been lucky enough to visit Tanzania to work as an expedition scientist for Frontier (a UK-based conservation expedition organisation), as well as to the Philippines and Fiji with Coral Cay Conservation.
What does your typical day involve?
On a typical day in the field, you wake up at six in the morning, organise the dive, meet the volunteers, lecture them, tend to sores and headaches, go on the dive, record and enter the data, lunch on rice and beans, fill the air tanks, teach the volunteers, go on a second dive, go into town to resupply fuel, food and the repair kit, and then carry on entering data! All of the work carried out in the field goes towards recommending areas that need protecting – there is a very important underlying purpose to it all.
Are there opportunities for volunteering/work experience within marine conservation?
I am involved in a wide variety of projects involving the public, such as the Seasearch project, in which volunteer scuba divers record what is living on the sea bed around Britain and Ireland, finding out which are the richest sites for marine life, and which sites need protection. I also help to run the ‘Your seas your voice’ project in which members of the public can vote for marine areas (including those outside UK waters) that they think should be protected.
The original article was written by Karin Ranero Celius and can be viewed in full on the Science in School website.