Dr. Karin Forney

Research Biologist
NOAA Fisheries Service, Protected Resources Division

Q. How and where do you conduct your work?

A. Most days I work in my office, but I conduct my field work aboard planes and ships. Sometimes I spend an entire month at sea.

Q. What is the most incredible thing that has happened to you while

conducting your work?

A. I was sailing out of San Francisco one day in really thick fog when suddenly I saw what looked like a rock right in front of our ship. It turned out that the “rock” was a pair of humpback whales. Then the fog started to lift and we saw that there were 50 to 100 whales feeding on krill. We spent the entire day taking photographs of the whales. At times they were so close that they bumped into our stopped ship while they scooped up krill by the giant mouthful. This was an experience I will never forget. (I also learned that day that humpback whales have really bad fish breath!)

Q. What did you think you were going to be when you grew up?

A. I always loved traveling, so I thought I would work for an airline or maybe become a language translator. But traveling while doing science is even better!

Q. Do you have any final words of advice that you would like to share?

A. Allow yourself to do the things you enjoy most, and do them well—that is how you will succeed in life and find a profession that you enjoy and are good at. It is also important to take every opportunity to learn new things—in school, in nature, and from others around you. Take as many different types of classes as possible, especially science, math, computers, languages, and history. These will all be important one day, no matter what profession you end up choosing. 

JASON Learning: A Partnership of Sea Research Foundation and National Geographic