People go to university for many reasons; my reason was founded in looking into rock pools at the Browns Bay beach and wanting to know more about the deep blue wonder, I built sand castles at the beach in the shape of sharks and crabs; watching documentaries and volunteering at the Island Bay Marine Education Centre all of which led me to become a marine biologist.
So my journey begins in Auckland; every summer we would pack up the car and go to Brows Bay beach for the weekend; me, mom, dad and my brothers and sisters. At the beach I always headed right straight to the rock pools; after mom said I could. Sometimes they would be kind of empty, just a few barnacles, and muscles, then other times there would be lots of pools full of hermit crabs, glass shrimp and sea anemones. I would turn over a rock and there would be Triple Fins and Red Rock Crabs; which were always a bit hard to pick up. After I would be done there, I would go make sand castles out of what I’d found, like making Red Rock Crabs, and using shells to make the claws more real and putting stones were the eyes would be, but always I built a shark, mostly a Great White in their they are just amazing, this is where the first spark on the road to marine biology was trigged.
When I would get home I loved to watch documentary’s such as “Shark Week” on Discovery Channel and the “Deep Blue” on BBC, fascinated me. For example, watching sharks jumping out of the water as they caught seals that they had been watching and stalking; but the thing that made me fascinated was there power, these are two tonnes five metres animal lunching themselves out of the water and then crashing back in like a kid doing a bomb in the pool, and there was only one place in the world that this happened and that’s off the coast of South Africa. On BBC, “Deep Blue” showed me was the detail and diversity in the ocean, it amazing to the point where while filming they discovered a whole new marine ecosystems that doesn’t rely on the sun, this fascinated me as I thought all life was powered by the sun but this one is all built on tube worms that live off the sulphur that is produced buy under water volcano’s. They also found another new animal called the “Dumbo Octopus” (and yes it looks just how the name sound).
This amazed me, and I want to know more and I know the best way to do this was to go to University and study marine biology. But the biggest push that I got and the leading reason on me going to University was volunteering at the Island Bay Marine Education Centre, there I got to put my knowledge I had from reading and watching documentaries to a real world situation, and it also showed me how much I had to learn. My favourite part of the “open days” is getting around the touch tank and watching all the kids, at first just looking and pointing with one finger with a look of “what’s that”? then they slowly come out of their shell’s, like hermit crabs, to the point where they are getting their hands wet, and picking up the animals learning about what’s in our back yard, like snake stars, wandering sea anomies’ and sea cucumbers.
After a few months there I had people coming back, and bringing new people in to the marine centre and they would recognise me and say, “Hi I’m black, you were so helpful last time and I’ve brought some new friends” this really got me as I didn’t realise just how much I was helping the place out and that also along with talking to some of the other volunteers who already work in the field like Dr Victor Anderlini, Andrew (an ichthyologist at Te Papa and Jules who runs the open days) of what I’m wanting to study it really made me want to further my knowledge and study something I am passionate about.
This is what I all was wanted to do, ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be a marine biologist. Other kids wanted to be police officer, firemen, doctors or a garbage man but no not me, I’m going to follow through with my child hood dream and become a marine biologist. So next time you are at the beach just pop on over to the rock pools and have a peek, you might get the same spark that I’m blessed to have and remember, just keep swimming.