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Career Under the Surface

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Abhishek Satam, Junior Research Fellow (JFR), Oceanographer talks to Monarose Sheila Pereira about his unusual career

My career was not decided beforehand. We had to study marine science in our syllabus of B.Sc. as an applied subject. While studying this I came across the basic knowledge of marine organisms and for Masters the same subject was offered by our college. So I opted for specialization in oceanography (marine science). During our excursion (study tour) to Lakshadweep we explored the beauty of the ocean. That was the time when forsook theory and learned a lot about concrete things of the ocean. I was extremely fascinated and I decided my interest would be me career. I am presently pursuing  my Ph.D. in Zoology under the guidance of Dr. Chhaya S. Panse, from Maharshi Dayanand College, Parel. I did my Msc. Zoology (Oceanography) from Mumbai University, in 2010, Zoology, from Mumbai University, 2008. I then joined the Zoological Survey Of India Kolkata.

I like the experience of working underwater and inshore. The experience is beyond explanation. In this field one works in places where normal people cannot even reach. We actually experience the underwater life of marine organisms which people only watch on the channels like Discovery, National Geography, etc.

Education is very important in this field. The responsibilities in this job are completely based on the core subject knowledge. I consider my education as the base and foundation of my career. Along with the knowledge, my teachers, school and college have played an important role to enhance my interest, knowledge, personality and career. This field relates to ocean, even the knowledge in this field is vast like the ocean. The interest and will power of the persond will secure maximum knowledge and experience.

In this field training is in the field itself, which includes collection of water, sediment and biological samples for research purposes. To study underwater we visited Agatti Island of Lakshadweep for scuba and snorkeling. Swimming is a must for this field. During the initial days we were worried about going for scuba training as it was in the deep water. However as days passed we actually enjoyed our training even in the deep ocean.

For my job at  ZSI (Zoological Survey of India) as JRF (Junior research fellow), the responsibilities and  duties which I had to perform was to collect samples of sediment and water for physicochemical parameters, biological samples, to visit and study different areas (shorelines) which are hotspots for marine life, study of coral areas and monitoring.

The investment included cost of my education. Training was completely organized and financed by the organization for which I was working. Generally this type of training costs from Rs.50,000 to Rs.1,00,000 depending upon the type of courses one selects. There are different categories for the courses, which varies from basic to advanced courses. The courses include open water scuba diving, advance open water scuba diving, rescue diving, dive master, etc.

The candidates are paid as per the job profile and the type of institution thy are working for. Basically a fresher can earn up to Rs.12,000 to Rs.16,000 per month. For being professional, one needs to complete a Ph.D. and gain minimum research experience of 4 to 5 years. After becoming a scientist one can earn Rs.50,000 up to a lakh a month. Experienced candidate can be financially stable. The experience which we get is more valuable than any other advantages. This experience includes studying the nature of flora and fauna, knowledge of ocean and its components, etc.

The relation  between a human being and the environment becomes strong and the person gets completely attached to the environment. For analysis of samples, in laboratories we get the knowledge of handling of instruments like varieties of microscopes, HPLC,GC, GPS, ICP-MS, etc. Apart from this, the field helps the person to become physically and mentally strong, and strengthens one’s ability to work in any condition.

There are some difficulties in this field. There is no fixed time of field work, so we have to be flexible and spend maximum time in the field. Patience is most important in this career. Since this field includes maximum of field work, one has to stay away from family for a long time. For the future I hope to become a scientist in the field of marine science. For my personal and professional growth I plan to do a post-doctoral research after few years of getting Ph.D. degree and financial settlement. After educational part my keen interest and hobby is photography, so looking forward for underwater photography. It is my hobby to collect Sachin Tendulkar artifacts and I have a huge collection.

For those who want to take up this profession I will say that this research plays an important role in the development of environmental conditions which ultimately help to improve the society we live in. This profession needs a  lots of patience. During the struggling days people have to accept less pay. Mental and physical fitness is most important in this career. I would like to be an inspiration to the next generation who are interested in the field of biological research.

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