Dr. Craig McClain (@DrCraigMc, Webpage)
Background: Craig is an expert on the science of body size in animals with more than 30 scientific publications. He has participated in dozens of expeditions taking him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. He is author and editor of Deep-Sea News, an award winning ocean-themed blog that has been rated the top marine biology blog on the web. His popular writing has been featured in Miller-McCune, Cosmos, Science Illustrated, Wired, Mental Floss, Scientific American, and American Scientist. He is currently assistant director of the National Science Foundation’s National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in Durham, North Carolina.
Why Ocean Giants? My first submersible dive happened off Rum Cay in the Bahamas. Despite my large size, I don’t remember feeling cramped inside the soda can-sized sub at any moment. The entire time I pressed my face against a 15- centimeter porthole, my cheek against the cool glass, and focused my eyes on the three meters of illuminated sea floor around me and the kilometers of black beyond. It was down here on the sea floor, nearly one kilometer beneath the surface, that I got my first look at the giant isopod, Bathynomus giganteus. This deep-sea crustacean looks a lot like your typical roly poly, except that it’s the size of a large shoe. It instantly captured my imagination, launching a journey to understand why the giant isopod is giant. Why am I so interested in size? For me, road trips are easily diverted by ‘the world’s largest ball of rubber bands’; special weekend getaways include visits to attractions claiming to be ‘North America’s largest’. But, in the biological world,size is more than a novelty. How an organism relates to the world around it is determined by its size, and understanding size is understanding the disparity of life itself.
Catherine Chen (@catherine_chenn)
Background: Catherine is an aspiring biologist who finds herself drawn towards too many sub-fields and has yet to figure out which she likes best, although she knows she wants to do field work, preferably on a boat in the middle of the ocean. For now, she plans on majoring in biology and evolutionary anthropology and looks forward to learning more about the importance of organism size.
Why Ocean Giants? Catherine has been captivated by marine organisms ever since she received a picture book about whales at the age of four. Those giants of giants were her favorite not only because they looked beautiful, but also because they raised so many questions, including that of their enormous size. She still loves marine creatures and now hopes to combine her childhood questions with her fascination with ecology and evolution.
Favorite Ocean Giant: Humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae
Lindsay C. Gaskins (@lindsaycgaskins)
Background: The first time Lindsay saw the ocean, she broke free from her parents’ hands and ran straight in without a second thought. It’s a shame she was only two, still had on all her clothes, and didn’t know how to swim. She just couldn’t help it, the ocean was simply that enticing. All these years later, it still is. That is why her life’s goal is to become a marine biologist so that she might contribute to the development of an ever-deepening understanding of the Earth’s final frontier.
Why ocean giants? Lindsay has been fascinated by the powerful and unique nature of sharks in particular since she was young, and strives to discover more about the animals that dominate the ocean food chain. With many shark populations in decline throughout the world, she wants to further contribute to our knowledge about misunderstood creatures, and educate others about why they require our protection and conservation.
Favorite Ocean Giant: Great White Shark, Carcharodon carcharias
Frank Lee (Webpage, @ccfrankee)
Background: Frank wants to help change how we, as humans, perceive the world for the better. Planning on majoring in neuroscience, he has a great deal of appreciation for the considerable unknown. His personal blog, Falselfo (linked to http://falselfo.wordpress.com/), samples some of the random peculiarities that this world has to offer, from camels to pancakes to the US dollar bill. He is really excited to embark on this journey to discover more about some of the world’s least known creatures.
Why Ocean Giants? Frank has always been amazed by the diversity of life on this Earth. In particular, he loves the large, scaly variety (alligators, pythons, and, of course, dinosaurs). To him, the ocean is a place of unbelievable wonders, where imagination meets reality. The two words “ocean” and “giants” together in one sentence simply make his mouth water.
Caroline Schanche (@carolinetime9)
Background: Caroline grew up in Norway with fjords and mountains, but was always drawn to the rest of the ocean and the undiscovered. She is still trying to figure out exactly which field within biology she wants to pursue, as she seems to be intrigued by everything the natural world has to offer. She spent this summer catching and tagging sharks and rays in the Gulf of Florida, and has also spent a summer interning at a sea turtle rehabilitation facility. She knows that no matter where in the world her career in biology takes her, it will be near the ocean: her second home.
Why Ocean Giants? The ocean has always been a big mystery to Caroline. What lies in those dark ocean depths has always been a question she wanted answered, but if we fail to protect the ocean and its inhabitants, she may lose the opportunity to ever get an answer. Caroline has been fascinated with sea turtles since before she can remember, and the largest, the Leatherback, is a powerful and unique creature that needs to be protected before it is lost from the ocean forever. She is excited to learn more about these and other ocean giants in order to understand them better, and hopefully through education and social outreach will be able to shed light on some much needed conservation efforts.
Shane Stone (@realshanetrain)
Background: Shane is Senior from New Jersey majoring in both Biology and Evolutionary Anthropology. He has been working on this project since January 2013. After graduation he plans to pursue a career in medicine, but plans to keep marine biology as an integral part of his life.
Why Ocean Giants? My interest in giants first began after seeing Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus. Although I knew that these were unimaginable dimensions I realized that people put there probably believed this. Then after I spoke to Dr. Craig and I found out that even the scientific community did not have definite answers I was excited by the opportunity to correct this major flaw.
Favorite Ocean Giants: Despite the amount of time I have spent working on whale sharks (Rhincodon typus), my true favorite is the Giant Squid (Architeuthis dux). Cephalopods have a soft spot in my heart. To me their ability to use chromatophores as well as unprecedented intelligence mystifies me.