Studying Antarctica's Marine Organisms main content.

Studying Antarctica's Marine Organisms

Part of Irma and Paul Milstein Family Hall of Ocean Life.

Donal is a marine biologist who is interested in animal physiology. He explores how animals live and thrive at very cold temperatures, particularly in the early stages of life. In his spare time, he likes to study the early stages of Antarctic exploration! Donal has a real interest in the early explorers and the history of Antarctica.

AMNH: Why should kids know about Antarctica?

Donal: Kids should know about Antarctica because it's one of the most extreme continent on this planet, with 70% of the world's fresh water, and because the ozone depletion is there. The Antarctic is like the canary in the coal mine: if we keep a watchful eye on it, we'll know if things such as global warming and climate are changing everywhere."

AMNH: How can students everywhere be good stewards of our least known continent?

Donal: Be careful about what you put into the environment and the ocean. Be a careful, educated consumer. We all need to question where the food we eat comes from. Perhaps it could be a school project to ask your local store, or restaurants such as McDonalds, if they are selling Antarctic fish. Active consumers can make a difference. For example, "dolphin-free tuna" happened because people spoke up."

Field of Study Marine Biology
Hometown Dublin, Ireland
Favorite Middle/High School Subjects Science was the "least painful."
Least Favorite Middle/High School Subjects English Composition
Thoughts on Middle/High School "I hated English Composition. My parents got so frustrated with me, just staring at a blank page, unable to come up with an idea. It would take me half a day to write something. Now it's my bread and butter. I have to write up papers about all of my work."
Interests in Middle/High School Snorkeling off the coast. "There are wonderful lush kelp forests in the Irish sea, and I loved to fool around exploring them with my friends."
Interests Today "If you find a job that's interesting, then your profession becomes your hobby. Even in my time off I like to do things related to my work. I also enjoy playing the guitar, camping, boating, and scuba diving."
Life Lessons from the Field "You need discipline... in your training and meeting deadlines and doing things that you don't necessarily enjoy in order to get to do the exciting parts of the job." Major Influences "My uncle encouraged me to take a job doing something that interested me, or even volunteer for free, rather than trying to make money. That was the best advice, to find something that excites you and