Meet Aly Busse, Our First Guest Blogger

On behalf of blogopus, I’d like to welcome Aly Busse, our first guest blogger. Aly will answer our readers’ octopus questions in bi-monthly Ask Aly postings.

I’d also like take this opportunity to thank Lauren Markham, who has done so much to help establish this blog on so many fronts that she might as well have eight arms. Most of her work lies deep within our depths, so I want to acknowledge her efforts. We receive wonderful feedback about her art and photographs, which complement and often inspire the daily postings. Thank you, Lauren!

Blogopus is just a hatchling (Aly, is this the correct term for a baby octopus?), a work in progress. I look forward to sharing this journey as it unfolds. Thank you for returning to read—and for helping to make The Octopus Garden grow!

Lauren recently sat down to videochat with Aly. Here’s the interview. Check back later this week for the inaugural installment of Ask Aly!


Author’s Note: I recently had the pleasure of interviewing for blogopus my friend of over fifteen years, Aly Busse. While I’ve known since we were teenagers that Aly had a love of the ocean, it wasn’t until this conversation that I realized the “depths” of her passion. She is excited to be a part of blogopus as a guest blogger and looks forward to answering all of your questions!

Aly graduated from the University of North Carolina Wilmington, with a bachelor’s of science in marine biology. She also holds a master’s in secondary science education from Old Dominion University. She is currently the director of school and public programs at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida. Aly previously served as the senior program coordinator (Outreach) at Rutgers Museum, and was the associate director of the Rutgers Geology Museum. She brings a wealth of knowledge to the blogopus community.

LM: When did you first realize you wanted to study marine biology?

AB: My love for the beach developed early on during frequent visits to the Jersey Shore with my family and to South Carolina with my Grandma. When I found I could translate my love of the ocean into a career, I thought, why not?

LM: Tell me about your work as director of school and public programs at Mote Marine.

AB: I work with scientists to bring their current research findings to the public, in particular to children and their families. As part of my job, I seek out opportunities for expanding our impact in the community and beyond.

We recently began working with SciGirls [a weekly public broadcast television series and educational outreach program for elementary and middle-school children based on proven best practices for science, technology, engineering and math education for girls designed to encourage girls to pursue STEM careers], a program I’m happy to be a part of.

We also have a trip coming up in 2012 that will be amazing. I will be traveling with a Mote scientist to South Africa, where the focus will be on human interaction with sharks. This trip is open to the public and we will be offering more like this in the future. The point of these trips is to let people know what’s happening in the research world.

LM: What is the best part about working at Mote?

AB: The best part is working at an institution that has such a strong history and culture of discovery that is research-focused. The best perks include kayaking, snorkeling, and collecting critters in the water with kids as part of our outreach program.

LM: What is your favorite aquatic animal and why?

AB: Coral. It comes in so many varied shapes and colors. They all live together in colonies and those colonies form whole ecosystems in the coral reefs. They support a lot of other animals.

LM: I have a couple of octopus questions for you. Are they found everywhere?

AB: Not everywhere, for example, not in fresh water or in very cold water. They lack shells and so are in need of extra protection. They are found mostly in tropical and temperate waters.

LM: Okay, is it octopi or octopuses? Also, I sometimes hear “fishes.” What is that all about?

AB: It is “octopuses.” It is a common question and often the subject of debate.

When we refer to “fishes” in the science world, we are speaking of different species of fish altogether. If we are referencing one type of species, we use “fish”—whether there are one or one-hundred.

[Author’s Note: I found this video helpful: Merriam-Webster Ask the Editor—Octopus.]

LM: Are you excited for blogopus readers’ questions?

AB: I am! I love talking about marine animals and I love when people are interested in the ocean.

LM: Where can we learn more about marine biology and the ocean?

AB: One of my favorite science blogs is Southern Fried Science. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History’s Ocean Portal has lots of information and is a great resource. And of course, I spend hours just scrolling through the photos on the National Geographic website.

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