Young Ocean Explorers features people ranging in age from 14-year-old Riley to septuagenarian Wade Doak. They all share an interest in marine conservation. Have you ever wondered what inspires them – or other scientists – to pursue a career in science? The Meet the Gurus pages in Love Our Ocean reveals some common themes.

Curiosity

One aspect that motivates most scientists is the need to know. Turtle expert Dan Godoy says, “I don’t think I decided to be a scientist, it just happened. I was always curious as a kid so would always ask questions as to why and how things worked.” This strong desire to know or learn something can come from many sources. Sometimes it is from personal experiences. Riley and the Young Ocean Explorers gurus regularly spend time in the sea and have questions about the creatures they observe and work with. Curiosity is also sparked by other people, and many of the gurus were inspired by watching television documentaries or reading about the work of other scientists.

Children look at the world in wonder and want explanations about why and how things work the way they do. I never grew out of asking ‘why’.

Agnès Le Port

Adventure

Adventure is defined as an unusual and exciting or daring experience. Riley certainly has had many adventures. Some of these are thrilling – like hand-feeding Sandager’s wrasse fish – but she’s had daring adventures too – swimming with a shark or snorkelling through kelp. Several of the Young Ocean Explorers gurus mention adventure as the inspiration to be a scientist.

I like swimming in the ocean and seeing other animals the best. It is like flying, but under water, you feel weightless.

Craig Thorburn

Working for change

Riley’s inspiration came from a school project. When she discovered that turtles, one of her favourite animals, accidentally eat plastic floating in the ocean, she researched the topic and made a video. The enthusiastic reaction of her brother’s year 6 class led to the start of the Young Ocean Explorers series. By getting young people engaged with the marine environment, Riley hopes they are more likely to protect it.

Working for change inspires most scientists – whether they are the marine gurus in Young Ocean Explorers, climate change scientists or medical specialists. The desire to improve people’s lives or the environment is one of the things that attracts people to science and keeps them in their jobs.

Nature of science

Although it is reliable and durable, scientific knowledge is subject to change in the light of new evidence or new interpretation of existing evidence. The quest to find something new is what inspires and motivates many scientists.

Useful links

Read about Wade Doak and his long association with marine adventure and conservation.
nzherald.co.nz/northern-advocate/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503450&objectid=11064890

Purchase a copy of the Young Ocean Explorers DVD and Love Our Ocean book.
www.youngoceanexplorers.co.nz/collections/all

Published 23 January 2016