One (More) Reason I Will Never Be a Marine Biologist

I will never be a marine biologist.  Those who are close to me know that I do not use flowery deodorants.  Less literally, those who are close to me also know that I do not like big things in the water.  And when I say big things in the water I mean animate, alive things like sharks or squids or Loch Ness monsters.  Boats and their ilk are okay, but anything that moves of its own will and is bigger than a Chipotle burrito will make me scream like Howard Dean in Iowa.

It doesn’t even have to be especially scary; it just has to be of significant size.  Even things that might be large, but absolutely harmless like halibut or tuna or Chris Christie; if they are big and they are in the water, they freak me out.  Out of the water I am fine.  If I were to see  Chris Christie or a halibut in Costco, no problem.  But put me in a tank of them swimming around all sideways and what not with their crazy buggy eyes on the top (halibut, I mean), I will have some serious heebie jeebies.  And believe me, heebie jeebies are always serious.  Always.

Perhaps you have seen this photo of an 18-foot oarfish that was captured at Catalina Island this summer.  Two words:  Heebie. Jeebie.  Stolen from

Perhaps you have seen this photo of an 18-foot oarfish that was captured at Catalina Island this summer.
I have two words: Heebie. Jeebie.
Stolen from

I suppose it has to do with my natural prejudice.  When it comes to discriminatory practices I am a rabid speciesist, preferring  to be with my own kind in my own element.  I suppose I will be vilified for blatantly discriminating against non-air breathers, but I am prepared to accept that.  It’s not that I find them inferior, it’s just that their culture is so different from mine.  I don’t have any aquatic friends and to be honest, they’re not allowed in my club unless they are being served with mango salsa and a side of roasted polenta.

It is not the water I fear, mind you.  I swim just fine and even enjoy the occasional snorkel.   My first time snorkeling was in Mexico and once I got the hang of it, I came to enjoy it.  I was diving down to see all the cute, colorful angel fish and schools of little shimmering anchovies and having a ball.  Then I looked up and saw a dark shadow approaching that could only have been Satan himself.  I do not exaggerate when I say it was at least three feet long and as tall as a Keurig (which admittedly isn’t very large at all and actually makes the story rather silly when you think about it, but it was in the water).

The Queen Mother tells of my retreat like it was a personified cartoon: I shot straight up out of the water and hovered, running through the air in my flippers until I disappeared over the beach leaving a sonic boom and a trail of flames.  I’m sure this is an exaggeration however, as there is no way anyone could hear a sonic boom over my first soprano screaming.

This is why I will never be a marine biologist.  Well, one reason anyway.  Another one I have found has to do with an article I read last week where a team of scientists are studying the life of a whale by looking in minute detail at…its earwax.  It’s what?  EARWAX.

Scientists just completed a years-long study of a 10-inch long earplug that was pulled from the ear of a blue whale that had died after being hit by a ship in order to determine what the whale had been through in its lifetime (excluding being hit by a ship, of course, as they knew that already).  They found pollutants, varying stress levels, eating and migration habits, and changes in testosterone evidently caused by the females of the species swimming by and flaunting their whale tales in various night clubs.  Of course being a government-funded study, they also found evidence for global warming and how poor nutrition can lead to obesity.  (You should see how blubbery that whale was.   His sea-water intake should have definitely been limited to 12 ounces.)

How they did this study was to carefully pull apart the ear wax plug and analyze it one layer at a time.  I think I speak for the entire scientific community as well as the general public when I say,


In a related story, marine biology enrollments plummet.


The ear plug in question. It’s gross and it’s not even 144 cm long.
Pilfered from

But this no doubt got me conTIMplating my own ear wax and how it might tell the sordid tale of my own adjective life.  I can see the scientists now, huddled around the microscope:

“You see this brownish-grey ring?  That was when he went jogging in Beijing.  And you see these regularly recurring dark spots?  This tells me he changed his own oil every six months.  And he wasn’t very good at it either, as he got it in his ear.  Every time.  And you see this salt-water layer infused with adrenaline?  Well, he was apparently snorkeling one time in Mexico…”

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