Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Scientist Profile – Mary Power


Mary Power is a freshwater ecologist who has spent her life studying river ecosystems all over the world. Her work has revolutionized our understanding of how these complex habitats work.


(running water) ♪ (bird sound and water rippling) MARY: He's pretty pissed at me and he's about to get out and scratch.

He does have some pretty good claws!

(laughing) I always had to look at nature close up because I was terribly nearsighted.

My parents put a mask and snorkel on my face.

Underwater, everything came into focus.

(water bubbling) For the first time I saw things clearly because of the refraction of the water.

So, it was a flashbulb moment, as they say.

Where I just had to be underwater looking at life that way for the rest of my life.

Creatures do what they do and if you're quiet and just floating, you're ignored.

And they do their business right in front of your face.

I think many of us find a great relief, if things are complicated in the human world as they usually are, you go into nature and you leave a lot of your human stress behind and you start thinking like a deer or a earthworm or a sponge in the water.

Trying to imagine what their lives are like.

♪ I feel really lucky to have had a wonderful life.

To be immersed in natural systems and to study them is a great privilege.

(water splashing) This must be a little bit comic.

(laughing) (water rippling)


PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.