[Coral-List] Sea Angels

Hillyer, K (Katherine) k.hillyer at royalhaskoning.com
Mon Nov 23 07:02:50 EST 2009

John et al. 

I have been following this discussion with interest. I believe like vessels of the sea, the sea is referred to in the feminine tense as it is considered a thing of beauty (although in Spanish and Welsh it is actually masculine!) 

Perhaps, a major simplification (as I am, after all a marine scientist), but human behaviour as I understand it, is governed very much by our hormones as well as our genes; testosterone producing command and conquer attributes and oestrogen, caring and mothering. Perhaps unsurprising then, that women are suited to conservation roles that require patient observation and research, whist men are often suited to director-style roles (although I know of many excellent and prominent male marine biologists and conservationists). 

Or maybe us girls just like 'saving the dolphins' ;)


"The birds have a harder life than we do except for the robber birds and the heavy strong ones. Why did they make the birds so delicate and fine as those sea swallows when the ocean can be so cruel? She is very kind and beautiful. But she can be so cruel and it comes so suddenly and such birds that fly, dipping and hunting, with their small sad voices are made too delicately for the sea." 

Hemmingway, The Old Man and the Sea.

K.E. Hillyer BSc (Hons) AIEEM
Marine Environmental Scientist

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-----Original Message-----
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov [mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Monika Franck
Sent: 22 November 2009 10:16
To: John Ruthven; coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Sea Angels

Hi John

Perhaps its because most women have a conscientious,caring and conserving nature while most men have a destructive and conquering nature.  

Interesting that you mention this now too as one of my lecturers recently also pointed out something similar to your observation. He said that women are conspicuous by their absence in participation in hunting/fishing expeditions, hunting photographs and hunting competitions.  You find men in these hunting expeditions and photographs absolutely beaming with pride of having killed often not just one for the pot but an entire wasteful heap of whatever creature was unfortunate enough to cross the path of the thrill of the kill that day. Often creatures that are not even good to eat are wastefully killed or exploited for fun without thought of how this affects the rest of nature and our future as humans on this planet.

The ocean is one of the last natural frontiers that we still understand little of with regards to how it regulates our climate, and from which humans still catch tons of wild food, fast getting depleted though as per other natural resource on this planet stressing under over populatain by humans.. The ocean is at great risk and conserving and studying it perhaps appeals to the caring and conserving nature of women more than the destructive and conquering nature of men.

Perhaps you should call your series "Mermaids"?

best wishes

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "John Ruthven" <John at hiddenpictures.co.uk>
> To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> Subject: [Coral-List] Sea Angels
> Date: Sat, 21 Nov 2009 12:09:15 +0000
> I was very interested to read Alina Szmant's post about women in marine
> biology. I am a scientist turned programme maker working on shows for
> Discovery, BBC and National Geographic, among others.
> I have recently been wondering about whether there is a series (working
> title "Sea Angels") about the famous women who work in marine biology. I
> have been working on underwater films e.g.BBC's Blue Planet, for about
> twenty years and have noticed that many of the prominent scientists in
> marine biology are female, or at the very least there is a greater
> percentage of women working in the field than say chemistry or engineering.
> Perhaps not surprising you may think, but there are other areas of biology
> where the prominent researchers are female too e.g. primate research.
> Do you think my perception is incorrect? Does it have any significance and
> are there indications of why there might be a connection between being
> female and having an interest in the sea?  Why do many languages seem to
> think of the sea as female for that matter? (e.g. French: La Mere).
> This does not of course have a direct relevance to Coral, but it is
> important to understand the perspectives which people bring to research and
> how that influences our view of the world in everything from nuclear physics
> to coral research.
> John Ruthven
> _______________________________________________
> Coral-List mailing list
> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list


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