Interview with Marine Scientist Dr Melissa Ward, her research and scuba diving stories, and her grand dream of sailing across the Pacific Ocean

Dr. Melissa Ward
“Seagrasses in Tomales Bay at low tide, where much of my PhD research was conducted.” — Melissa Ward
Seahorse, sea hare and eelgrass. “Two examples of animals we see in the seagrass meadows — this Giant Pacific seahorse (left, Hippocampus ingens) was attached to one of our sensors when we pulled it up (don’t worry, it was returned safely to the bottom!). We also find Taylor’s sea hare (right, Phyllaplysia taylori), which eats small algae growing on the eelgrass blades. This “lawn mower” like behavior keeps the eelgrass blades clean, allowing the eelgrass to photosynthesize and survive.” — Melissa Ward (Photo: Scott Gabara and Kathryn Beheshti)
Diving to the bottom. “An example of the kelp forest (left, Catalina Island, CA) and a coral reef (right, Badi, Indonesia) which we often dove in — unfortunately, the seagrass meadows are often too murky to get good photos in!” — Melissa Ward
About to dive! “Our boat-side support (Dr. Scott Gabara) prepares to pass the sensor he is standing over to our dive team (Sarah Merolla, left, and Dr. Aurora Ricart, center). The bright orange bag Aurora hold is used as a floatation device to attach to the sensor to keep it from sinking immediately because the sensors are so heavy.” — Melissa Ward
“Sailing to Mexico and simultaneously writing my PhD dissertation while underway, or at anchor in some of our region’s more remote places.” — Melissa Ward
“Dr. Aurora Ricart (right) and I looking at water chemistry data after removing our sensors from a seagrass meadow in Newport Bay. (Photo: Katie Nichols)” — Melissa Ward
Melissa getting geared up to dive!

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A blog about women scientists. Founding editor of blog: Dr. Promita Chakraborty, San Francisco Bay Area.

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