Marine Biology, Up Close and Personal

Ethan-prepares-for-summer So… how will you be spending your summer? Chances are, it won’t be in Scotland. 14-year-old Ethan Settle, however, will leave Katy and arrive in Aberdeen for more than a vacation. In fact, he’ll be visiting the University of Aberdeen’s Oceanlab for a two week internship.

Ethan is interested in the general field of marine biology. He’s been involved with the ocean his whole life, exploring beaches since he was a toddler. Remarkably, he took the initiative to email the world’s top ten researchers in Hadal Ecology and expressed his interest in these nearly undiscovered ecosystems. 

A Prestigious Internship

His efforts paid off, and now he’ll pursue his passion overseas as he discovers more about the world’s deepest ocean trenches — those of the Hadal Zone. This zone contains the Mariana Trench, where depths reach over 36,000 feet and pressures are 1,100 times sea level. It is so remote and foreboding that it has been reached only by two explorers in 1960, and by James Cameron in 2012.

Ethan will be joining Dr. Alan Jamieson at the University of Aberdeen’s Oceanlab for two weeks. Oceanlab is involved with HADEEP (HADal Environment and Educational Program), a collaborative project aimed at studying “life at extreme depth; fishes and scavenging fauna of the abyssal to hadal boundary.”         

The overarching point of HADEEP is to design, construct and operate new technology capable of imaging and collecting biological samples from the deepest places on Earth. The team studies depth-related and geographic trends, as well as physiology and behavior of ocean animals as they inhabit an extreme environment in regards to high pressure, low temperature and low food supply.

Ethan’s work will center on the examination of Hadal samples collected this spring by Dr. Jamieson using robotic ROV’s (remotely operated vehicles). In preparation for the internship, Ethan took a college-level online marine biology course. He was was officially scuba certified during a family Christmas vacation last year in Belize. 

Ethan-Settle-at-computerExperience of a Lifetime

“I’m going to work with Dr. Jamison and help collect samples, and will also input data,” says Ethan. “Basically, we’ve explored 5% of the world’s oceans, and since most oceans are very deep we have a whole lot to learn.”

His proud parents Alecia and Edwin Settle, along with his younger sister Angeline, are excited about the trip, although only Mom Alecia will travel with Ethan. All in all, the excursion will last three weeks (two “on the job” and one for travel and sightseeing). They will be leaving behind Ethan’s cat Sophia, dog Max, and (no surprise) his saltwater fish tank filled with sea anemones, clown fish, and a cleaner shrimp named Xavier. 

The Future

Ethan is involved in varsity basketball and track. This fall, he’ll be a 10th grader at Faith West Academy, and is a member of the National Junior Honor Society. He chose Faith West because he wanted a smaller campus, smaller classes… and most importantly, he wanted to attend a Christian high school. 

We wish him well in his endeavors! How remarkable that we have a worldwide traveler and young scientist living right here in Katy. 


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