Introducing the Gray Whale Expert

Meet Gray Whale Expert, Wayne Perryman
Fisheries Biologist
National Marine Fisheries Service

1) Any childhood memory that was important in guiding you into your occupation? How did you become interested in this field?

I was raised in Southern California and going to the beach, snorkeling, riding waves were all a big deal to me as a kid. I think that is what started my interest in the marine environment. Then, after getting a bachelor's degree in Zoology, I was faced with the draft and chose to go to Officer Candidate School and accept a 3-year commitment in the US Navy. Because of my educational background, I was sent to an oceanographic research ship, the USS TANNER. Aboard the Tanner, I worked off the coast of Vietnam and throughout Micronesia. Those experiences really focused my goals on a career in the marine sciences.

2) Any person, role model or leading authority that greatly influenced you? ( a parent, 6th grade teacher, scientist etc...)

I remember being at sea with another young scientist and we were thinking about what we were going to do with our lives. He told me to first decide what it was I liked most to do, and then to follow the career path that allowed me to do whatever that was. And here I am.

3) Your background: (job title, profession, education/training etc...)

I have a bachelor's degree in Zoology and a master's degree in Biology. I am a Fisheries Biologist with the National Marine Fisheries Service at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in LaJolla, California.

4) Favorite work story or experience: (What was one of your most exciting, memorable, or exhilarating experiences in the Field?)

I think that being in a 16-foot boat next to an 80-foot blue whale and feeling the air in my chest resonate with the rumble of the whale's blow was one of my most exciting experiences. It certainly puts things into perspective.

5) What advice can you provide to a student who might be interested in working in your occupation some day?

Take lots of math and learn to write well. Be tenacious. This is a hard field to get into, but if you work hard you can do it.

Nancy, "the world's only gray whale- spotting Welsh terrier."

6) Any family members, including pets?

I have a wife, Penelope, who is a banker, and a dog.

7) Favorite book(s), Favorite food(s), Any hobbies?

Other than my work, I most enjoy riding waves in my kayak at Black's Beach.

My dog likes it too!