Steve Ross: Introduction
I didn’t really become seriously interested in ocean science until I was an undergraduate at Duke University and that’s pretty far along in a person’s life, even though that’s a young age. As a child, I was not necessarily interested in science, I was interested in, I always liked to solve problems, to take things apart and put them together and to fix things, if I could. And I spent a lot of time at the seashore as a kid, right from the time I was a baby. So I was, for some reason or another growing up in an inland community, I became interested in the ocean. I read books about the ocean and about ships and the sea and was just always fascinated with that. I learned to sail at an early age. I learned to scuba dive when I was in high school and so I had some idea early on that what I was going to do had something to do with the ocean. As far as heading toward a science career, I didn’t really go there until I got to the university and got a better science background and more direction toward marine science.
Exploring in Submersibles
Very few things jump out when people ask me that question about what’s the one key thing that you’ve seen that you always go back to. I can remember a number of things and they always involve my work in manned submersibles. I’ve had a swordfish attack the submersible. I’ve seen lots of large sharks. I’ve seen habitats that no one else on Earth has ever seen. I’ve collected species that are new to science. And I’ve seen beautiful places that are just completely hidden to the public, beyond the depths of scuba diving or normal travel. So those things always come to mind and I get to see a lot more of that than many scientists.
On a very personal basis, I like solving problems and so when I’ve proposed a particular scientific hypothesis or theory and I’ve outlined a series of steps to address that hypothesis to find out if it’s true or false, and I work through those steps and it’s successful and I come to some conclusion, that’s always personally satisfying. When that success translates into something that’s useful on a more, a broader basis, that is rewarding in itself.
Recently, in some of our work, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council has used a lot of our information to create some of the largest deepwater coral protected areas in the country and that kind of thing is very gratifying.