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Dash Masland is a Marine Biologist and National Geographic Young Explorer Grantee, whose passion has been marine mammal conservation for practically her entire life. 


Do you know where I fell in love with seals?  In my backyard.  Okay, well not literally, because obviously seals live in the ocean.  (Although, there are stories of little seal pups getting confused and crawling their way miles from the ocean and landing in someone’s backyard.  This most certainly did not happen to me.)  But the point is that seals are found right off the coast of Maine, right where I was raised.  I was completely inspired to be an explorer, just by falling in love with the ocean that I saw everyday growing up.  And, I think it is incredibly important to remember that exploring can and should take place right where you live.  Go check out that beautiful park in the middle of town.  Head out for a walk at a local plot of conservation land.  Hike a mountain.  Paddle a river.  Or just simply sit and look at the ocean.  And while you’re there, try and do something small.  Whether it’s picking up a piece of trash or politely asking someone to stay on the trail or even making a conscience decision not to remove plants or other objects from their natural environment, it all makes a difference.  Tap into your inner explorer, because every little act can cumulate into a big difference for the future of our planet.


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I am lucky enough to have been to over 20 countries spanning 4 continents and have studied coral reefs, fish, algae and even marine bacteria.  But the proudest I have ever been when I was right back in Maine, studying those seals that I grew up in love with.  These are the same animals that compelled me to become a marine biologist.  I am so familiar with their role in our lives and how my research would affect the people around the study site that it is an investment in research like no other.

In no way am I trying to say that it isn’t important to go to other places and share your skills.  Because it is.  And, I’m not saying that I won’t keep pushing to go on explorations to study animals or research questions that are on the forefront of conservation so that I can help make a tangible difference.  Because I will.  (Also, because I happen to have what we like to call around our house, the “travel bug”) I’m just saying that being an explorer at home is incredibly important and valuable, too.  And, being an explorer is something anyone can do.