SEA Days: Surfing Into Summer 2017

Every month, the third Saturday is a special day at Birch Aquarium: SEA Days!

As the tagline suggests, SEA Days are always full of  “Science, Exploration and Adventure.” Visitors and members can meet a Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego or local researcher and get hands-on with science, participate in activity stations, and get creative with a thematic craft.

Name: Phil (“The Marlin”) Bresnahan​

Hometown: ​Harleysville, PA, USA​ (100 miles from the ocean)

Schooling Background:
​I loved chemistry and math in high school, so I studied into chemical engineering in college. I knew I wanted to play (ahem… work) outside as much as possible so I joined an oceanography program​ in grad school.

1 word to describe a characteristic a scientist must have: Resilience​

Phil Bresnahan​ and team use Smartfin to collect coastal data.

1) How does Smartfin research affect a person’s everyday life?

Well, for one, they get to go surfing to collect data and help with oceanographic research, so that’s pretty rad! Smartfin will help us study the coasts, where a huge proportion of the world’s population live​s; we need to be able to understand the coastal ocean in order to meet our current needs and protect it for future generations (like us and people even younger than us!).

2) How did you decide to work on this particular issue?

I’ve spent a ton of time in a lab and an office but oceanography (and all science, really) is founded on curiosity and a desire to better understand the natural world. While some of my work requires that I be inside, I really wanted a way to emphasize the “natural” part of natural sciences and take advantage of this amazing resource that we have right outside our windows. Oceanography in general and Smartfin in particular provide me an opportunity ​to combine just about everything that I love!

3) How do you predict the story of our ocean will change in the future?

I think that the story of the past few generations has been that of discovery—realizing that we’re affecting the planet in some really major ways—so now the story has to enter the next chapter, a chapter of mitigation and adaptation. In other words, the story is going to be about the amazing things that individuals (like you!) and communities do in order to make sure that the ocean is as pristine as it possibly can be for their children and their children’s children.



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Scripps Institution of Oceanography UC San Diego