The secret side of science

December 12, 2015
Alisson Clark
photographer: Mike Gil

The guest stars in Mike Gil's videos often steal the show – and the camera.

In the YouTube series Confessions of a Marine Biologist, Gil shares his adventures in the field as a University of Florida doctoral student. The meme-rich, heavy-metal-tinged videos, shot in locations from Tahiti to the Yucatán, follow his exploits amid killer waves, shark-infested waters and mucus-spewing spider snails – plus the aforementioned larcenous octopus and photobombing triggerfish that took out his research cameras.

The videos are Gil’s way of sharing a side of science he never saw growing up.

“I thought science was a boring list of facts you recited in a classroom. I never knew it could be a lot of fun,” he said.

That changed after his freshman year at the University of Texas at Austin, where Gil – then a journalism major – won a scholarship to a field course in Australia.

On an island where lizards outnumbered people, he studied the diversity of reef fishes and discovered a passion for science. Now he gets to spark that same discovery for students in his marine ecology field class in Akumal, Mexico – but he wanted to share the experience with others, as well.

He’s hoping the videos and his website,, will inspire students to explore science beyond the classroom.

“Scientists aren’t just people in lab coats in a basement. I’ve had amazing experiences in wonderful parts of the world,” he said. “That’s the secret I want to get out: Science, no matter the location, is true adventure.” 

Mike Gil works on coral reef research in Mexico.

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