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Interview Kevin A. Raskoff, Ph.D.

Interview Transcript: Hi Everybody, My name is Kevin Raskoff and I study Jellyfish and was lucky enough to go out on a couple of ocean expeditions to the Arctic Ocean and study life underneath the Arctic ice. I want to tell you about some things that we found in 2005 when we were up there. While we were on this expedition we were there to study the animals and the plants that live literally, underneath the ice. There's actually a lot that lives underneath the ice and we didn't know much about that, especially the animals of the deep sea. So, we got ourselves a remotely operated vehicle, or what we call an ROV, and we sent this robot down underneath the ice to try to explore what was down there and we found a lot of interesting things. We found a number of things that people had described from other areas of the planet but we had no idea lived up in the Arctic area. We also found a lot of new species, things that no one had ever seen before. That's one of the most interesting things about being a scientist is this idea of discovery and sometimes you get really lucky and you can find new things and it is a really exciting moment to be the first person that has sort of described or seen or held or touched something that is new. I like being a scientist because of this sense of discovery. I like also being a scientist because you get to ask questions and then answer them all day, which is a pretty fun thing. Being able to look at the world and ask questions and wonder why things happen is pretty great. And, the people that you get to meet along the way, the people that you work with on this cruise in 2005, there were dozens and dozens of other scientists all specializing in their own little unique brand of science. And, it is just great to get together with people like that and you learn so much and it is just a really interesting thing.

One of the things that was most interesting, I think, about the trip in 2005, was that some of these new species, specifically some species of jellyfish that we had never seen before, they were super common. They were some of the most common things we saw under the ice. The third most common organism that we found for the entire month was a new species to science. Not only a new species, but a new genus, which means it is really different from anything else we had ever seen. That's just one of the reasons I like studying marine science. One of the things that got me interested in jellyfish in the first place is that I find them really bizarre and alien. When you look at all the animals on the planet, you know, there are lions and chipmunks and bears, but then you get down to jellyfish – they just seem so different. I guess I thought that of all the things on the planet that I could study that would be most like studying an alien species, jellyfish would be it. Even though they are really simple, for many years now they just continue to surprise with all sorts of interesting stuff.

The thing I like most about being a scientist is being able to ask questions, being able to look at something, trying to understand it and realize that we just don't understand the world. The world is still sort of a mysterious place. I love that about science. I love that even in 2010 we still don't know a lot about what's going on, especially about the deep sea. I guess I like that sense of mystery, that sense of discovery, and that we can still be doing that today. It's not something that people did a century ago; it's something that happens every day, all around us.