Jessie Perelman is a deep-sea biologist and science writer. She is pursuing her PhD in the Biological Oceanography Doctoral Program at the University of Hawai’i (UH) where she is a member of the Deep-Sea Fish Ecology Lab. Her work focuses on better understanding the biology and behaviors of midwater animals, effectively communicating scientific research, and exploring deep ocean habitats.
Perelman graduated with a B.S. in Biological Sciences in 2016 from the University of Southern California where she began writing for The Safina Center as a guest blogger. During her degree, she spent a year in Brisbane, Australia where she studied the feeding dynamics of Indo-Pacific wahoo and spent several years as a research assistant in a marine microbiology lab. After graduation, she worked at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution studying acoustic behaviors in marine invertebrates and coral reef soundscape ecology.
In the doctoral program at UH, Perelman is now investigating how the ecosystem functions of deep-sea animals might change as their habitats are influenced by human activities like deep sea mining. Her current projects focus on the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone (CCZ), a 6 million km2 area in the central North Pacific Ocean where industrial-scale mining for metal-rich seafloor deposits (manganese nodules) will likely begin in the next several years. As a 2019 “Kalpana Chawla Launchpad Fellow,” Perelman will begin to address the ecological impacts of midwater sediment discharge resulting from nodule mining. She is working with scientists and policy makers around the globe with the goal of providing significant management recommendations to the International Seabed Authority (ISA) which governs mining activities in the CCZ.
With a great appreciation for the diversity of life that inhabits Earth’s largest ecosystem, Perelman works to spark curiosity and awareness about deep sea exploration and to communicate its overall importance to broad audiences. The Hawaiian Islands are surrounded by the deep ocean, yet people here rarely learn about these amazing ecosystems just a few miles offshore. As a Launchpad Fellow this year, Perelman plans travel to local high schools around Hawai’i to teach students about the deep-sea environment, why it’s worth protecting, and to inspire the next generation of researchers and science communicators.
Notable works, coverage and accomplishments
All Hands on Deck: A (sea)grassroots approach to ocean exploration. National Geographic Blog. (2018).
Plastique: La Grande Intox, documentary interview. Cash Investigation. (2018).
Lancetfish are providing a unique glimpse into the ocean’s twilight zone. National Geographic Blog. (2018).
Project Pisces: Hidden ecosystems and lasting legacies. National Geographic Blog. (2018).
Sound production patterns of big-clawed snapping shrimp (Alpheus spp.) are influenced by time-of-day and social context. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. (2017).
Reef Rhythms. National Geographic Blog. (2017).
Feeding dynamics, consumption rates and daily ration of wahoo (Acanthocybium solandri) in Indo-Pacific waters. Journal of Fish Biology. (2017).
Sound and the Sea. National Geographic Blog. (2017).
The unseen significance of whales. National Geographic Blog. (2016).
Pesky plastic: The true harm of microplastics in the oceans. National Geographic Blog. (2016).
(cover photo courtesy: Jessie Perelman; headshot: Max Cremer (HURL).)