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"fascinated by fish" - stanford intellectual essay


ioc 1 / 2  
Oct 18, 2009   #1
I was trying to explain why my chosen topic is important, but I think I didn't talk enough about how it relates to me and why I chose it (see prompt). Please comment honestly; any thoughtful input is appreciated.

Also, for some reason the tabs weren't included when I pasted this so I have put in >'s to show where each paragraph begins.

So here is the prompt:

Stanford students are widely known to possess a sense of intellectual vitality. Tell us about an idea or an experience you have had that you find intellectually engaging.

and the essay:

> The Cheilinus undulates is a rather large fish known mainly for its trademarked hump head, friendliness to scuba divers, and ridiculously large lips. It is hard to imagine how such a creature could be endangered; however, its lips are so amazing that the wrasse has become prone to overfishing, due to excessive culinary demand in Southeast Asia. Sadly, this destructive trend is one of many contributing to the ultimate obliteration of coral reefs around the world. Deforestation destroys habitats, while pollution leads to out-of-control algae blooms.

> So what?
> Biodiversity is essential for life. The Earth is an incredibly complex system that only functions properly through a balance of its parts. Remove a keystone species or import an invasive one, and the ecosystem may crash, sending far-reaching repercussions rippling out. Oceans do not magically take in our CO2; we rely on phytoplankton to absorb it. The plankton, in turn, depends on their environment to thrive. Seeing as we live on this planet, it is only logical to be aware of the devastation of the most biologically diverse places in the world.

> Billions of people are provided with food and income through coral reefs. The umbilical connection that the ocean has with society is one that cannot be cut, as the economic effect of reef systems on humans is enormous. Diversity is a major source of inspiration in medical research, while tourism and fishing provide many with livelihoods.

> I have always been fascinated by fish. Perhaps it is because of their rich 400+ million year history, or their stunning specialization. As an amateur ichthyologist, the extinction of the reefs is especially relevant.

EF_Stephen - / 264  
Oct 18, 2009   #2
This is good as far as it goes, but it needs more of you in it. Otherwise, it's like an encyclopedia entry.
OP ioc 1 / 2  
Oct 19, 2009   #3
Completely rewritten. Tear it apart!

The alien, shape-shifting creature stared at me through the glass, holding its penetrative stare while daring me to look away. Those unblinking eyes belied a subtle, sinister intelligence. Surrounded by the silence of the abyss, I realized that I was alone in this first encounter. The air in the already frigid room chilled even further. The glowing plaque above the railing read: "Giant Pacific Octopus...harmless."

I first fell in love with the ocean after getting lost at an aquarium. The vivid colors, the unfathomable variation! Perhaps it was only natural to be curious when the local headlines blared "TY WARNER SEA CENTER REOPENS!" Here was a chance to finally share with the world all of the extensive fish-keeping knowledge that I had accumulated.

Not quite. Day one involved all of teaching visitors how to pet starfish, but none of the advanced discussions of echinoderm physiology I had been anticipating. Realizing my limitations led me to be more creative in sharing my passion for marine biology. Demonstrating the elegant dance of our moon jellies and then revealing the irony of the shark-petting tank became a daily occurrence, with the occasional tidbit of trivia thrown in for good measure.

Interestingly, the compact architecture of the Center fostered many unusual conversations with guests, fellow volunteers, and most memorably, our resident aquarist William. We covered the whole spectrum, ranging from silly arguments on our favorite fishes to praising the wonders of scuba diving to debating ways to save endangered reefs.

The ocean's vastness inspires adventure; its creatures inspire life. In the words of the great explorer and marine conservationist Jacques Yves Cousteau, "The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever."
OP ioc 1 / 2  
Oct 24, 2009   #4
anyone?
gohan - / 1  
Oct 24, 2009   #5
at least 10 times better than the first


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