1140 Marine Biology

Dusty talks about how he got interested in marine biology and what it is about.


Mike: So Dusty, we were talking earlier, and you're telling that you're into marine biology, and that's kind of your background. So, tell me a little bit about why you like - what's your fascination with marine biology?

Dusty: Well, the main thing is that there's no poop to clean up, which I kind of loved about it. The reason I wanted to do zoology in study, and work in a zoo, and I did try. I mean, I tried that and it was a bit - it was great, but it was really intensive work. But I'd also tried that in an aquarium for a few days. The aquarium was just so much more fun, and cleaning everything was flowing much better. I really enjoyed it.

Mike: You're in a naturally gigantic toilet, so you don't really have to worry about it.

Dusty: The water's always being cleaned and filtered, so it fit my nature quite well. The oceans, in general, are really interesting, you know. There's always stuff to be found. And as technology gets better, we'll just find more and more things. Even the way the ocean is set up is a bit different.

Mike: Right.

Dusty: Like you know, on land, you have this constant [unintelligible] of trophic levels. Think of it like the food chain in a way. When you see those pictures, and there's like one thing eating the next thing, eating the next thing, that's basically what a trophic level is.

Mike: So a trophic level - just to clarify - a trophic level is kind of like the chains in the sort of system of life, I guess. I don't know.

Dusty: Yeah. That's a perfect way of putting it, basically. So on land, you have maybe three trophic levels: you'll have plants, you'll have insects, you'll have animals that eat the insects, and in rare occasions, you'll have an animal that eat the animal. So you might have four. The oceans, in some areas, have seven or eight trophic levels at one time. So there's just so much more going on, and so much more interaction that it's really fascinating.

Mike: So I'm guessing, it's like the food chain, right?

Dusty: Yeah, it's like the food chain. There's a lot more links in the food chain in the ocean than you would see on land.

Mike: Wow! Okay. So whales, I'm assuming then, are probably near the top of that particular food chain. Is that right?

Dusty: Oddly, depending on the whale, they're either not that high up or very high up, you know.

Mike: Okay.

Dusty: So, if you have filter - like baleen whales or filter-feeding whales, they just eat lots of really, really small things like phytoplankton and zooplankton that's in the water.

Mike: Okay. Wow!

Dusty: So they're in there, but they're not as high up as you would expect. If you have things like killer whales, which eat whales, as well as fish or other creatures, then they're much higher up in the trophic levels there.

Mike: I'm guessing that probably, killer whales are at the top of that chain because they eat people, too, right?

Dusty: Well actually, there's never been a killer whale that's eaten a person.

Mike: Really?

Dusty: Yeah. The only danger has been when people fall off the whales during shows, so don't stand on one's head and jump out the water. That makes sense.

Mike: You're watching too much Hollywood. So do you still do any work with the sea turtles?

Dusty: Yeah. Most recently, about a year and a half or two years ago, I worked with the Japan Sea Turtle Protection Society for about a month and a half. That was great! Really good organization that works just outside of Osaka, an area called [Negal]. They have an office, and they're also working out of Kobe.

Mike: Wow!

Dusty: They just do nesting studies throughout many of the beaches, and trying to do more sea turtle awareness work, and things.

Mike: So what do you do to like protect the sea turtle eggs from, let's say, natural predators?

Dusty: So it depends on which beach you're working out or where you are. In the States, they actually set up little nets over top of the nests, or little cages to stop animals from being able to dig in and get down. Some of the beaches I've been to in Japan do that, some don't.

Mike: What are some of the predators?

Dusty: Predators - well, it's weird. Here, if we're talking about Japan, you've got natural predators, which are things like tanuki, which are like, you know, the raccoon dog that would come down and dig up the eggs. But they also have introduced predators like raccoons, just normal ones from the States -

Mike: Wow! Really?

Dusty: - which people brought over as pets, and they'll also attack the eggs. And that kind of upsets the balance. So again, things like bells, setting traps along the beach to capture them comes in handy. Doing nightly patrols, where you just walk up and down the beach will keep them stirred away.

Mike: Right.

Dusty: Things like that work well.

Mike: I guess you don't shoot the predators.

Dusty: Ah, no.

Mike: Just curious.

Learn Vocabulary from the lesson


Marine biology is your background.

Our background is our education or work experience. Notice the following:

  1. My background is in finance.
  2. His resume contained detailed background information.


There's no poop to clean up.

Poop is a cute, informal word that means bodily waste from animals or infant children. Notice the following:

  1. The park has a problem with dog poop.
  2. The young couple's house smelled like baby poop.


It's like working in a gigantic toilet..

Gigantic means super big. It's a fun, informal word. Notice the following:

  1. That was a gigantic mistake.
  2. Wow, that's a gigantic hat you're wearing!

food chain

There are links in the food chain..

We use the term food chain to describe how larger, stronger and faster animals, eat smaller, weaker and slower animals. Notice the following:

  1. Lions and tigers are at the top of the food chain.
  2. Disruption of the food chain has become a major concern for biologists..

upset the balance

That upsets the balance.

Something that upsets the balance changes the way a group of things usually works. Notice the following:

  1. Killing the wolves will upset the balance of the food chain.
  2. The rise of China has upset the global balance of power.
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Vocabulary Challenge

Complete the sentences with the words below.
background • poop • gigantic
food chain • upset
  1. Man is at the very top of the .
  2. The officer will check out each applicant's .
  3. None of the kids wanted to clean up the puppy's .
  4. The aquarium species are like in a glass bowl.
  5. How does deforestation the balance of nature?