I went to grad school intending to be a herpetologist. During my first summer they gave me a job sorting five-gallon buckets of dead fish that were trawled up by a deep-water research vessel. And all of a sudden I saw these deep-sea anglerfishes. Big mouths, huge teeth, giant stomachs that expand—they can eat something bigger than themselves! Not to mention the parasitic reproduction. These are amazing things to a kid who grew up in southern Michigan. I completely forgot about snakes.
One of the things I tell my students is that the little things can be turning points. One conversation or experience can steer you in a different direction and be incredibly important in your life.
When I started out, everybody said, “Don’t start working on anglerfishes. They’re so rare, and they live really, really deep.” And it’s true, you go out on ships and try to find these things, and hope one might be alive, but more often than not you come up empty handed. That’s why you have to look at museum collections. People say, “Are you going to travel when you retire?” But that’s what ichthyologists do: tour the world to see collections, to sit and look at what’s in jars.
Article Source: Burke Museum