Dr. Corey J. Morris
My work focuses on studying the ocean. I help create marine protected areas and discover ways to maintain healthy and productive fish populations.
Do you self-identify as First Nations, Métis, or Inuit? If yes, with what community do you affiliate?
Yes. I identify as southern Inuit - NunatuKavut. My ancestry originated in southern Labrador, specifically the area around Seal Islands and Partridge Bay.
What is a typical day like for you?
During a typical day in summer, I spend time conducting research from boats along the coast or in offshore areas. I spend time scuba diving, and using electronic equipment to find and study the movement patterns of many fish species, such as Atlantic cod, Atlantic salmon, and Arctic Char. I spend a lot of time working in Labrador, with the people living in that area who depend on the ocean to make a living.
During the winter, I spend many days writing and communicating our research to others, so that many other people can learn about the ocean as well.
What is the most enjoyable part of your job?
I really enjoy SCUBA diving! For people that study the ocean, scuba diving is an important tool. Taking pictures, videos, and underwater measurements of the habitat that fish depend on, is an important part of learning about fish.
What is the least enjoyable part of your job?
The least enjoyable part of my job is doing the tremendous amount of book work that it takes to tell people about the new and exciting things that we have learned. However, it’s probably the most important part of my job. Taking the time to write down and document our discoveries allows me to share this work with others.
Explain the path you took to get to this job (education, internships, etc.).
The path I took to get this job was through education and experience. I went to universities in Newfoundland and Labrador, and in New Brunswick. Between my times in University I worked on topics related to protecting the environment. This is a topic that I really enjoy. Sometimes I went to university while I was working in a job.
Did you experience any obstacles or challenges on your path? How did you overcome these obstacles or challenges?
Everyone experiences obstacles and challenges! It is the most important part of learning that teaches us how to solve problems. In many ways, problem solving is the most rewarding aspect of dealing with any obstacles or challenges. Obstacles and challenges are not barriers, and overcoming them can be a great reward for hard work.
Who or what was the greatest influence that set you on this path?
Other than my personal interests in biology, learning from people with experience has been the most influential part of my career choices. For example, teachers and university professors, who have reached the highest level of learning, have so much to share and learn from. I have also been influenced by elders in many of the small communities in Labrador, including George Rowe, Jim Learning and Bernard Heard. They have a lifetime of experience that people can learn a great deal from, through their actions, accomplishments, and stories.
What advice would you give others seeking a similar job?
Follow your interests, and combine your school-education with experience to make decisions about the career that is best suited to your interests.
How does your job make a difference?
I work with a team of people to ensure that our oceans are healthy. It makes a difference because we help to protect the oceans from activities which we know can be harmful, such as pollution or overfishing. It also allows people to collect food and make a living from the sea without causing too much harm, which is an important part of our economy and society.
How do you use science, math and technology in your job?
As scientists we are taught to ask good questions, and to answer those questions we use math and technology every day. For example, we often want to know where fish spend the winter or the summer. Using advanced technology we can put a tag on fish that communicates with detection equipment, even satellites, telling us where a fish has been. Using computers and mathematical calculations we can pinpoint specific locations and movement patterns of individual fish. With that information it is much easier to protect fish from overfishing, or it can be used to find fish when we want to catch them for food.
Is there one course you wish you had taken in high school but didn’t? Why?
I did not take advanced math in high school. I thought it would be too hard. If I had my time back, I would have taken on that challenge, even though I would have had to work much harder to do well.
What makes this job right for you?
This job is right for me because I enjoy it. The work is rewarding and I like learning about the ocean. It is not something that everyone enjoys, but I do. It keeps me interested and motivated to do more.
What's the most bizarre or silliest thing you’ve ever done in this job?
The most bizarre thing that I have done in this job was being chased by two whales underwater! My friend Dan Porter and I were conducting an underwater diving survey of habitat near Port Aux Choix, on the northern peninsula of Newfoundland, and out of nowhere two Beluga Whales started to follow us. It was exciting. The whales kept their distance and we kept ours – although we could not swim nearly as well as the whales. It was bizarre, the whales followed us around for about 45 minutes.
What activities do you like to do outside of work?
I like outdoor activities outside of work. I enjoy salmon fishing, building things, growing fruits and vegetables, snowmobiling, things like that.
You just won $10 million! What’s the first thing you’d do?
Travel. See the world and learn how other cultures live.