1) Have you been in the Alvin DSV?
I have had the pleasure of diving in the Alvin (WHOI) and the Pisces IV and V (HURL). Diving to the bottom of the ocean to see hydrothermal vents with my own eyes had been a dream of mine since childhood. Each dive is something new and exciting.
2) How long are you at sea?
Most cruises I participate in are three to five weeks long. The first few days and the last few days are for transit to and back from the field site. For coastal work I may use small boats or even just waders.
3) What do you do when you are not at sea?
Many scientists are university faculty and spend some of their time mentoring students, teaching classes or participating in the activities (meetings, boards, outreach) of the university community. Most of us spend, or try to spend, a healthy portion of our time in the laboratory running experiments and analyzing data. All scientists spend a lot of time reading other peoples research papers, writing our own papers and writing proposals to fund future research. Reading and writing are core skills.
4) Will you come to my school and speak with my class about X topic?
I really enjoy interacting with students of all ages and teachers about science. I usually speak about some aspect of the research I am doing, how it may affect them and just why science is so cool. Feel free to contact me with your questions or requests and I'll do my best to engage you in the topic.
5) Do you swim with sharks?
Yes, but not knowingly. Cool stat - If you're swimming in tropical waters for 20 minutes you have probably been investigated by at least one large shark.
6) Do you work with dolphins/sea lions/otters or other cute, charasmatic fauna.
Probably not but it depends on how you define cute and charasmatic. Very few oceanographers or marine biologists work with these animals. If you are really passionate about studying these animals I suggest starting early and volunteering. Many of the researchers that work with these animals have a DVM and/or study the pathology of large animals. I do not know which career path leads to a dolphin trainer at SeaWorld.