Linda Despres

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Voices from the Science Centers


Voices from the Science Centers is an oral history initiative dedicated to documenting the institutional knowledge of fisheries scientists and administrators in the labs of NOAA’s Fisheries Science Centers.

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Biographical Sketch

Linda Despres was born in Brunswick, Maine and grew up on her father’s boat with her brothers learning about tuna fishing and how to navigate the sea. This ignited a passion for marine wildlife as well as being outdoors exploring nature. She graduated from the University of Maine with a degree in zoology with a minor in wildlife biology. She began working at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center in 1973.  She logged over 1,200 days at sea on the Albatross IV as well as many days at sea on foreign fleet vessels. She served as Chief Scientist aboard the Albatross IV beginning in 1975 and including the Albatross IV's last voyage.

Interview contains discussion of: fisheries science, Title 9, plankton larvae, marine biology, joint research projects, foreign scientific research vessels, social differences, herring, mackerel, cultural diversity, U.S. survey cruises, age and growth studies in marine biology, parasites, Europe.

Linda Despres provides a rich, detailed description of her time as Chief Scientist. She chronicles her time spent at sea, with detailed descriptions of the daily work on board the Albatross IV and foreign fleet vessel. She shares the ups and downs of being a scientist throughout changing culture of the fisheries industry. In addition, she reflects on the changes in women's roles on scientific vessels as well as the transition from manual data entry to electronic data entry in the information collection process within a laboratory environment. As of this interview, she was working on two books about the Albatross IV. One book focuses on the vessel, her structure and technology. The other focuses on the many people who sailed on board her.

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