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Senior Essay: Common App Essay


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By Sam Schwartz ’18, Sports Editor

What did you want for your twelfth birthday? A basketball? New shoes? Concert tickets? All I asked for was a fish tank. Though my parents looked confused, they agreed, and that is when my obsession started. I love the ocean (even though I live in a city over six hundred miles away from it). I watched as many documentaries like Chasing Coral or The Blue Planet as I could. When I had watched all of those, I looked for anything I could about the oceans and reefs. I read two whole books about fish reproduction, Sex and the Sea, and Sex, Drugs, and Sea Slime (yes, you read both of those names correctly). I am captivated by the beauty, size, and biodiversity of coral reefs, and when, at the age of twelve, I heard about ocean acidification, climate change, and overfishing I was distraught by the man-made collapse of coral reefs. I was so disappointed with humanity for allowing such a natural wonder to collapse and its millions of beautiful inhabitants to perish. So, following my twelfth birthday, I plunged into the world of saltwater aquariums.

It has taught me more than I could have ever wished. It has taught me not just about fish and coral, but important lessons. It taught me about diligence and patience, like doing weekly ten-gallon water changes, or feeding the fish, or cleaning algae off the glass. Mostly importantly, my tank taught me that failure is an important part of success. I’ve had favorite fish and coral die, but that didn’t stop me. I knew I had to learn from my mistakes, by self-reflecting and understanding what went wrong and why. As of now, I haven’t had a fish die in two and a half years.

Most people have some sort of bucket list of things they want to do or places they want to go; my bucket list is aquariums I want to visit. The Mote Aquarium, National Aquarium, Shedd Aquarium, and Newport Aquarium I have already checked off my list while the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Georgia Aquarium are next up. So when I go to new aquariums, I get ecstatic. I often get mistaken for one of the exhibit curators (the Mote Aquarium sweatshirt, National Aquarium lanyard, and the shark socks I wear probably don’t help). This is because when most people go to the aquarium, they point out Nemo and Dory swimming by. Yet, I explain to my parents the Amphiprion Percula and Paracanthurus Hepatus swimming through alcoves in the rock. I run around from tank to tank pointing out my favorite fish and babbling random facts about them as my family walks far behind pretending not to know me.

“The Yasha Goby is a special type of Goby that has a symbiotic relationship with a Pistol shrimp which clamps its pincers so quickly you can hear an audible pop outside the tank.”

Whenever I hear questions, even if they aren’t asked to me I try to answer them. I know this may sound nosy, but I do this because I believe a majority of the landlocked population views the ocean as a distant problem that little affects them. Yet, it will, from Cincinnati to Santa Fe. If people knew all the amazing things the ocean provides for us, whether it be food, tourism, or a source for new lifesaving drugs, I believe people would feel more focused on the protection of the ocean and all the things it holds. What do I want for my eighteenth birthday you ask? I want the world to take a step back from their daily lives for a moment and recognize all the ocean does for us, and how little we do for it in return. Maybe then we can realize the need to save the ocean.

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