Though just about every scrap of dry land is now accounted for, ocean discovery remains a thriving international industry that is vital to the understanding our world and ensuring the survival of its inhabitants. Everything from our understanding of climate change, energy and the health of both humans and sea creatures alike relies heavily on oceanographers, cartographers, deep-sea biologists, research vessels and all the other types of maritime explorer. The fact is that ocean exploration isn't just a desire for humanity, but a necessity.
Long after the Age of Discovery, legendary names in ocean exploration such as Jacque Cousteau, Sylvia Earle and Jacques Piccard have inspired many others to pursue many avenues within oceanography, and with so much incredible technology and exciting new endeavours, it can be hard to know where to point your interest, let alone find your dream career. On this entry of the Seachest blog, we're going to cover the basic steps any hopeful amateur needs to become a professional ocean explorer:
These can range from articles written by real ocean explorers and profiles of current OceanAGE Explorers in Training published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) , to TED-Talk FAQ's with the likes of Sylvia Earle. Whilst they aren't educational in the studious sense, they can give you a better understanding of your dream role, and what would be involved in both attaining and living it.
All forms of oceanology require discipline and a never-ending need to prove your ability. To actually be the one on the boat, getting into the deep and having something to show for it is another matter entirely. Ocean science is still in its infancy, and as Dr. Craig MCClain said in his excellent blog on becoming a deep sea biologist; "a project that takes other scientists a weekend and $250 to do will take you three years and $250,000."
Publishing papers, obtaining grant money, getting positions and tenure are all big milestones that only come with extensive education, and whilst this doesn't always require a PHD in Marine Biology, you will need to have a fairly strong grasp of basic sciences (including biology, chemistry and geology), maths and statistics, advanced modelling and analytical methods, and given the equipment you'll be working on, having some knowledge of mechanics and engineering can't hurt either.
Getting aboard your first expedition will surely be a turning point; hardly just a chance for a paid cruise, these voyages offer valuable experience and insight - just ask Kevin Hardy, an ocean engineer who's first outing on a two-week research jaunt eventually lead to him designing unmanned landers to accompany Virgin Oceanic's manned submersibles to the bottom of the Mariana Trench.
As demanding as any career into the unknown, ocean exploration is pretty good at attracting the right kind of sailors. If you're one of those lucky few who've taken the plunge and surfaced with your desired job title, you can let us know your advice via the Seachest Facebook page, Twitter and/or Google+.