Dash Masland is a Marine Biologist and National Geographic Young Explorer Grantee, whose passion has been marine mammal conservation for practically her entire life.
I have dreamed of being a marine biologist for as long as I can remember. And even before I can remember, my mom said she knew. I have always loved the water, but it probably wasn’t this that gave it away. When I was around 18 months old, I used to drag one of those huge orange lifejackets over to my mom and make her put it on me. Just to play. In the house. Don’t worry, when we were actually around water, my parents had me in the proper lifejacket for an 18 month old. This was just my form of dress up and it was certianly a glimpse into the future.
There was a phase I went through as a child where I was convinced I was going to be a dolphin trainer. And then of course, like most young aspiring naturalists, there was a time in life where I wanted nothing more than to work for National Geographic and travel to far off and exotic places. In my teenage years I was all about SCUBA. Couldn’t get enough of being underwater. Then it was coral reefs. Yup, I was going to study coral reefs and try and help prevent their destruction. I then had a guidence couselor tell me not to specialize too early with my education. So, in college I was a general biologist. It was here where I started to also fall in love with genetics. The fascinating code behind all life. And, finally graduate school. Finally, I got back to Maine and got to study the seals I fell in love with as a little girl and I became a genetist. So, around the age of 25 I realized that when I grew up, I wanted to be a marine biologist. Oh, wait? Well, I found a specialty within marine biology where I feel completely and totally passionate about what I am doing. I have focused my childhood zeal. I am a marine biologist with an emphasis on pinnipeds and molecular ecology, or the field of science where we use DNA to answer ecological questions usually geared towards conservation.
Really, where am I going with this rant about my childhood and early adult years? Well, what I am really trying to say is thank you. Thank you to National Geographic as a whole. Thank you for inspiring me as a child and fueling my imagination. Thank you to the National Geographic Young Explorer’s Grant program for funding my graduate school research that has allowed me to become the scientist I am today, and of course, thank you to National Geographic Channel for giving me the chance to participate in Expedition Granted. I am so humbled and honored that they are highlighting my work and helping spread the word about the critically endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal and the very important research that must be done in order to help save this species from going extinct. And thank you to everyone out there for all their votes, support and encouragement and for helping me to fulfill my dreams. Mahalo!