Into the Deep: Dr. David Gallo Enchants Students with Tales of the Ocean

BBy Ryan Smith ’17

Photo credit: World-renown oceanographer Dr. David Gallo visited Chaminade to discuss his successful career.
Photo credit: World-renown oceanographer Dr. David Gallo visited Chaminade to discuss his successful career.

Our planet is filled with an abundance of mysteries, one of which is the ocean.  On Wednesday, February 3, Chaminade students were given the opportunity to gain knowledge about deep blue from Dr. David Gallo, current senior advisor for Strategic Initiatives at Columbia’s Center for Climate and Life.

Growing up in upstate New York, Dr. Gallo’s was captivated by nature.  At SUNY Albany, his interest in the ocean became his passion, and he began to learn all he could about the mighty sea.   “Everything seemed to fit together,” recalled Dr. Gallo.  “So much stuff was happening, with discoveries being made left and right.”  

After receiving a Ph.D in Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island, Dr. Gallo took part in his first major expedition to the Mediterranean Sea in search of ancient Roman and Greek ruins or “the cradle of humanity” as Dr. Gallo said.  For more than three decades after that experience, Dr. Gallo worked on a number of special projects, including the exploration of the Titanic and Air France 447, a plane that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean in 2009.  Perhaps his most interesting work occurred in his study of the mysterious disappearance of Malaysian aircraft MH370, an incident which garnered national attention in early 2014.  

 In Hearst Auditorium, Dr. Gallo spoke to a gathering comprised mainly of members of the Science Club, whose curiosity lured them to listen to an expert on the wonders of the seas.  Throughout his presentation, he focused mainly on the Pacific hemisphere of the planet, pointing out the wondrous features of Earth’s largest ocean.  

Another focus of his lecture was the gradual impact that humans have made on Earth over the centuries.  Dr. Gallo claimed that as a species, humans have gotten off to a bad start in regard to respecting the beauty of this planet.  He encouraged that humans look at the big picture whenever they make climate-altering decisions.

 Nevertheless, the oceanographer’s speech was not merely a “Go Green” pep rally.  Pictures and videos of his voyages taken in the exploration pod Alvin captivated the Flyer’s eager eyes.  Breathtaking footage of deep-sea life and underwater wonders, particularly around the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, amazed even the savviest of ocean enthusiasts.

Dr. Gallo also debunked some myths regarding the Titanic.  The infamous ship was never officially announced as “unsinkable,” and, around the time of its construction, the vessel shared the spotlight with two sister ships, the Olympic and the Britannic.  The circumstances and drama around the tragedy raised the cruiser’s legend to exaggerated heights.

One important aspect of these explorations, as Dr. Gallo explained, was the passion for these types of journeys.  The temperature and water pressure of the “abyss” can be life-threatening, and the submarines used for exploration only move the unflattering speed of 0.5 mph.  Nonetheless, oceanographers express a deep desire for knowledge by risking themselves for the sake of pure adventure and education.  By that same token, explorations of sunken ships such as Titanic should never sprout from greedy intents for artifacts or treasure.  Rather, coming in contact with history drives these brave souls into the unknown.  The grace and pristine beauty of untouched earth make the expeditions rewarding and worthwhile.

  When giving advice for aspiring oceanographers, Dr. Gallo stressed the importance staying open to all options.  He further warned of the “business” of science. “Be careful and make sure you know the difference between the business of science and the passion of science,” he noted.

Being mindful of one’s true motives is crucial.  Making money and exploiting natural resources simply will not be rewarding; however, understanding and appreciating our planet’s beauty will give us a greater satisfaction and closer proximity to God’s creation, as Dr. Gallo discovered for himself.