Today was my first day at the New England Aquarium. I was wicked excited, because I have been going to the NEAq since I was very little, so it was cool to see the Aquarium from a different perspective. When I arrived, I meet up with Paul Leonard, Senior Aquarist for the Penguins. He showed me where he worked and then got me started with helping to clean the Penguin exhibit; I have never cleaned so hard in my life. It was now feeding time for the penguins, and for such little birds they eat a lot. In the afternoon, he showed me around the aquarium from behind the scenes. The exhibits look different, when you are standing behind them. The next day, I spent the morning working with the water quality team. They have a very important job, because if there is something wrong with the water, the organisms can get sick. During the afternoon I was allowed to watch and participate in a necropsy of cow nose rays. A necropsy is like an autopsy, but for animals. After the third one, an intern from the Veterinary staff and I did one ourselves. It was really interesting. The third day I shadowed one of the Marine Vets. He had us running all over the place, between a very busy schedule and the emergency calls he received. I was even able to go with him to the outside tank when he was giving one of the female harbor seals an injection. The trainers would feed and distract the other seals while he did his work.
The last two days that I was at the Aquarium, I worked with the dive staff and the Giant Ocean Tank (GOT) staff. I helped with food prep, feeding, cleaning and diving. The GOT animals are fed 3 times per day, so there is a lot of food prep in the morning. After feedings we have to wash all the containers that were used. I had never done so many dishes! Paul took me in for a tour of the tank. It was so cool to see all of the different types of animals within one small ecosystem. I noticed very quickly how friendly the turtles are, especially Myrtle, who wants to know everything going on in the tank. The next day, when I was doing a cleaning dive I was kneeling in an area known as the sand trap scrubbing some rocks, when one of the loggerheads came over and sat on top of my legs. It was pretty funny to watch the turtle nestle in against me. When I was not cleaning, I handled some of the surface feeds. There are many fish, like the cobia, barracuda, puffer fish, needle nose fish that are fed from the surface. Myrtle is also fed on the surface and her favorite food is Brussels sprouts. The last day I was at the NEAQ, Dan Dolan took me into the tank and I was able to do some video taping for my presentation. In the afternoon, I went back to the penguins where I got to feed them myself. One of my favorite things about my time at the NEAQ was when I would first arrive in the morning. It wasn’t open to the public yet so the lights where just starting to turn on and it was extremely quiet, all you could hear was the sound of the water and the animals. I really enjoyed my experience at the Aquarium and learned so many things about how an aquarium works.
The last weekend in June, I went to Orleans on Cape Cod, where I stayed with Boston Sea Rover George Buckley. We were working on a Limulus and Busycon projects. The Busycon cavia is the New England whelk or conch and Limulus polyphemus is the horseshoe crab. While I was there we went to Rock Harbor, Pleasant Bay, and Nauset Beach to find Busycon egg cases and baby Limulus. We unfortunately did not find any Limulus, but we did find conch egg cases. We opened the egg cases and counted the tiny conchs, in each case. The weekend was very interesting and I learned a lot about Limulus, Busycon, and sea shells.
For three days I worked at Diver’s Market in Plymouth, MA. Wayne Gomer owns the shop and started me off with organizing rental equipment and painting weights. Then he gave me the job of rearranging the store and creating a new floor plan. Over the next few days, I learned how to fill tanks, do visual tank inspections with the Visual Plus machine, put together regulators, and change o-rings. In the end, I learned quite a bit about what it takes to operate a dive shop and I really enjoyed the experience.
Today I went to visit Fred Dion, the owner of Underwater Phototech in New Hampshire. Here I also learned how to put together and use the camera and housing that I received for the use during the internship. The camera is a Sony HC-3 camera with a Gates HD housing. I learned how the camera lines up to fit perfectly within the housing and what the different buttons on the housing are used for during filming. This information will be extremely helpful for making my presentation. I also learned how to put camera and housing packages together and how to make packing slips.
This morning I headed out to Salem, MA to meet Dave Caldwell and Heather Knowles. We would be going out on their boat the Gauntlet, for dry suit and advanced training. Heather and Dave run the Gauntlet as a charter dive boat on the weekends, so for the first charter in the morning I worked as a deck hand with Dave to help the divers with their gear. On the second trip, Dave and I dove the Chester Polling, the wreck of a small tanker located off the entrance to Gloucester Harbor. The visibility was amazing and we even saw a wolf eel! On the way back to shore, Dave taught me how to drive the boat. It was a lot of fun and the diving was great.
Today I worked with Alison Leschen from the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries mapping horseshoe crab spawning behavior on Swifts Beach in Wareham, MA. To do the survey, we mapped out a series of 5ft x 5ft grids along the shore and into the water. We surveyed the beach from end to end. We recorded if there were horseshoe crabs within the grid, tallied the totals, and Alison entered the information into the database.
Bonaire is one of the small islands off the coast of Venezuela that make up the Netherlands Antilles. Our travels began early with a flight out of Boston and a layover in San Juan. When we arrived that night, the heat and humidity were still high. We stayed at Captain Don’s Habitat and I saw the saying “Diving Freedom” on their welcome sign. It seemed to fit with the countries’ license plate that said a “Diver’s Paradise”. For the first time in my life, I saw crystal clear blue water and the week was filled with diving and projects. The diving here was unbelievable! I saw so many marine creatures, from sea turtles, eels, angel fish, and many more. One day on the boat to a dive site a pod of dolphins swam by. If I had to pick a favorite dive there would be a tie between a night dive at Town Pier and the Hilma Hooker. The night dive was incredible; being my first night dive, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The colors of the corals at night and the creatures were wicked cool. The Hilma Hooker is a shipwreck off the south end of the island. It was amazing being able to see the wreck lying at the bottom in about 110ft of water, from 15ft below the surface.
Besides for diving, I worked at the Habitat dive shop, and at STINAPA and the Bonaire National Marine Park. While at STINAPA I helped conduct underwater surveys. The surveys were being done on the behavior of divers touching corals.
When not underwater, Dave and Pat Morton, Kim Douglas, and I traveled the island, where we saw the salt flats, Rincon, Lac Bay, and the slave huts. One of the last days I was there, Jack Chalk, our host, took Kim and I on motorcycle rides on his Harley around the island. It was a new experience being able to taste the salty air, while driving. The trip was filled with lots of diving and more leaning than I could have ever imagined, but mostly it was a wicked lot of fun!!!
We were on the road early this morning to drive to Stage Fort Park in Gloucester for the DUI dry suit Demo Days. I was going to be able to dive for the first time in my new dry suit. Faith talked with me and Jamie Brisbin (the 2008 Our World Underwater Scholar) about our suits and then helped us cut our seals. We were briefed and suited up for our first dive in our new suits with my Dad. It was amazing being underwater without getting wet or cold. After the dive, I met up with Patrick Scalli and Dave and Pat Morton to talk about how everything went with the suit.
I have attended Rover Clinics for most of my life, but I arrived at the Boston Copley Hotel to begin the weekend activities not knowing what to expect. I could only imagine what the weekend would be like. Friday began with COMS or Career Opportunities in Marine Sciences, hosted by George Buckley for high school students. As the morning went on, I was introduced to Sea Rovers, speakers, and the past interns with whom I would be working with this summer. Watching Ryan Hunter (2007 Intern) present, I knew the bar had been set high. The weekend continued with a pre-Clinic Reception at the Gamble Mansion. Here I met a lot of interesting people all with one common thing, a love of the ocean. Richard Simon and Kate Douglas (the first two Scalli Interns) were very helpful with introductions and networking around the room. I went to bed with my head spinning, thinking of all of the wonderful opportunities I would have this summer.
After getting up early on Saturday to help with setting up the Clinic, the day was filled with presentations and speaking with the Sponsors. In the afternoon, I was able to sit in on an underwater photography workshop with Jim and Pat Stayer. The presentation was wonderful and covered everything from buying a camera to editing video and everything in between. Racing off to dinner before the film festival, I couldn’t believe I was sitting at the same table with Evening Speakers Chuck Davis, Bob Talbot, Steve Drogin, Stan Waterman, and Jill Heinerth. Soon after we were at the Evening Film Festival, where I watched amazing footage of the speaker’s latest adventures. Then it was time for Patrick Scalli to bring me to the stage and officially introduce me as the 2008 Intern. All I kept thinking about on the way to the stage was “don’t trip”. Afterwards, I attended the reception back at the hotel, which included the traditional dunking of new Sea Rovers into the silver bowl. I was very surprised when I heard my name called as the next one to be dunked.
Sunday, I was fitted for my dry suit at the DUI booth by Faith Ortins and had a meeting with Dave and Pat Morton about the Internship. I was astounded when they told me that I would be going to Bonaire first. I couldn’t believe the weekend I just had and I am very grateful for the huge welcome I received from the Sea Rovers.