SEA Currents: research
Arrival at Kanton Atoll
Today was a special day for the SSV Robert C. Seamans and everyone on board, as we finally made it through our nine-day sail from Pago Pago, American Samoa to Kanton Island, Republic of Kiribati. Each day the temperature gets higher and higher as we approach the equator, but our spirits remain high, especially after we passed by Enderbury Island yesterday. I had never seen a coral atoll island before, and it reminded me of many fiction stories I’ve read about surviving on a deserted island, which was a little weird since Enderbury Island looked so calm and pretty.
I’M ALIVE, MOM!
It has officially been a week since we set sail from American Samoa! C watch was the first standing watch to sail the SSV Robert C. Seamans. The first night was rough as most of my watch got sea sick (I still haven’t gotten sea sick), so there was a lot to do for a small amount of people. Fast forward to a few days ago, my watch was back on their feet and feeling great! All of us have experienced the wonders of the lab and how to use all the equipment, which process the samples we take out of the water.
Hello from PIPA!!! (Mom, I’m alive) This is the official first blog post from the SSV Robert C. Seamans in PIPA waters, which was basically the whole goal of this voyage, so it’s a pretty big deal that we FINALLY made it.
Anyway, the theme of this blog is FIRSTS! As we officially wrapped up our first week at sea, today at approximately 1400, I have a few firsts I want to look back on.
An Amazing Day
This morning we woke up to a wonderful breakfast of scrambled eggs, home fries, and oranges. Next we had our daily watch meetings and answered a leadership prompt.
This was followed by our Oceans and Society class where we learned about the triangular triads, European expansion, and the Niger delta. We also learned about two activists, Olaudah Equiano and Ken Saro-Wiwa, and how to see things in different perspectives.
Hold ‘Em & Fold ‘Em
A very wise friend once gave me this advice (I think we were talking about chairs): “You’ve got to know when to hold them, know when to fold them. Know when to walk away, and know when to run.” He was trying to wax philosophically about how chairs were like life in general. Now it’s my turn.
Science in the Field at Woods Hole
Today is the end of my first week of the internship segment here at Woods Hole PEP, and it’s been one experience after another. I go to Amherst College, a liberal arts college not too far from Woods Hole. As great as it is, the chance to work in the field doing research hasn’t really come my way- until my internship began at the Woods Hole Research Center. You might expect a research internship to consist of working in sterile labs, poured over glass vials and odd instruments, and to a certain degree you may be right.
Exploring the Marsh
We rose early to go to Sippewissett Marsh. We caught Pipefish, crabs, and a baby Horseshoe crab. We surveyed the whole area collecting data (e.g. pH, salinity, water clarity, sediment composition) before making our way home. We took some marsh creatures back for later observation, but unfortunately there was a crab on crab altercation, and one had to be sent home.
My research is about validating aging methods for Lophius americanus. In order to do this I need to dissect them to remove their illicium, otoliths, and vertebral columns. The dissection room is located on the first floor of the NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center. It’s a clean room longer than it is wide with work benches along a windowed wall. We take the monkfish out of the specimen freezer (which is a brisk -10°C) the day before to thaw. One by one we lay the fish out on a measuring board to measure their total length. Then we weigh tem and place them back on the board to begin cutting.
New Experiences in New Places
My name is Amber Durand, and I am a rising junior at Howard University, majoring in Biology and minoring in Chemistry. In my quest to find a summer internship, I was very open to exploring the different branches of science. One afternoon, my mentor pulled me aside and encouraged me to apply to the Woods Hole Partnership Education Program. I had never heard of Woods Hole, Massachusetts, but after reviewing the program’s website and contacting the program director, I decided to apply. Having had no experience in ocean or environmental sciences, I was quite unsure about my standing in the application process.
I began my academic journey at a community college, then transferred to my dream school: University of California, San Diego (UCSD) as a Marine Biology major. In fact, I just completed my first year! Before I transferred to UCSD, I presented my summer research with the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program at the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science National Conference in Washington, DC. and PEP was there. Like many, I heard many noteworthy accomplishments about Woods Hole which initially intimidated me to walk past their table.