My Ocean Story

Posted by: Jess Morten

 My Ocean Story

While I have always been someone drawn to nature, it was always the oceans that caught my interest and attention. Born and raised in the Northeast but with family in California, I grew up staring out at both the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans, mesmerized by sandy horseshoe crabs in Long Island Sound and dense kelp forests in Monterey Bay.

Helping with a Plankton Tow in the Gulf of Maine

Taking down behavioral data on a humpback whale in the Gulf of Maine

When I first started out on the job scene after college in 2008, like so many other wide-eyed, young environmentalists fresh off their diplomas, I had a lack of clarity on the direction and narrowed field that I wanted to head towards in the environmental arena. Armed essentially only with my Environmental Studies degree and an ambitious passion for getting involved in poignant environmental causes, I set out to work as an intern/research assistant at three very different marine biology research organizations; The first in Gloucester, Massachusetts where I spent long, wind-burned days out on the (chilly!) gulf of Maine taking down behavioral data on humpback whales, the second in the San Juan Islands of Washington, where I again spent all day out on the water, this time as part of a population health assessment of the Southern Resident Killer Whales, and lastly in coastal Georgia, where I collected data from the sky as an aerial observer for a study assessing the population and reproductive health of North Atlantic Right Whales.

My Killer Whale research team in Friday Harbor, WA

My Right Whale aerial survey team in Saint Simons Island, GA

I left each of these incredible experiences reassured that my commitment to working in the nonprofit field, and especially the world of ocean conservation, was the right one for me. Those short years showed me so much: The diligence that goes into data collection, the patience that goes into conducting quality research, the effort that comes with working at a leanly staffed non-profit, the crucial importance of each and every grant that comes in, and–above all–the passion that is required to make a real impact. After this I headed to New York City, where I stayed for three years working for an international environmental NGO before taking the plunge and moving out to California for graduate school and my internship here at Ocean Champions.

I think I have always naturally been a pragmatic thinker, and it has certainly affected the way I have viewed and learned about environmental policy. I firmly believe that major environmental change won’t occur unless both sides of the debate are engaged on the issues, and that’s a big part of what makes me so proud to be a part of Ocean Champions, the only political voice for the oceans. Legislation is critical to conservation, and solid ocean legislation won’t occur without strong ocean and environmental leaders in Congress, defending our environmental rights and inspiring conservation efforts to save these resources we shouldn’t stand to live without.

Date Posted: May 2, 2014 @ 12:47 pm Comments Off