Weird Job

people baiting hooks

Baiting for shark on Rookery Bay

When our local paper asked for wacky, wonderful job stories, I had to share mine:

“Can I squirt him in the eye?”  I felt weird being so blunt with the brave little geek in braids, but having graduated from high school in the seventies, I knew I’d feel weirder negotiating with five teens over shark tagging tasks.  So when the grad students got our shark situated under their bodies, I got to test his reflex, and his eye membrane nictated nicely which meant that he wasn’t too stressed.  On the next round I clipped a bit of tissue off another shark’s fin for DNA testing.  A few days later I played games with a blindfolded dolphin, and the day after that, I served as a dolphin pool toy.  Ahhhh!

In June, I piled on three coats to wend my way through freezing drizzle to a sod Viking lodge in Newfoundland and talk caribou stew with a Norse woman.  Some kilometers south, I walked on the earth’s mantle, and in Nova Scotia I rafted the mud-red bore of world’s highest tide.  Last fall I used a three foot strip of baleen and a rubbery sand eel to educate boatloads of whale watchers then recorded the number and type of whale body parts we spotted.

Between trips, I hand out crickets to people who want to get squirted by archer fish at the Denver aquarium.  Then I urge visitors to feel sharks teeth or get hugged by sea urchins.  Next trip to the coast, I hope to get rescued by the Coast Guard.

What’s my job?  I’m researching a Sea Secrets lecture series, guide book, and Breathtake Byways blog for sea lovers and cruise ship passengers. I love to share it.  Invite me to talk to your group about sea creatures.  [email protected]

About breathtakebyways

Ann Williams’ travel articles have appeared in publications all over the country including The Washington Post, Roads to Adventure, and Jack and Jill. Between researching and writing books, she specializes in creative lectures.