I spent the last week in Woods Hole in Cape Cod. I stayed with Peter and Maria Symasko and was hosted at the Marine Biological Laboratory by Dr. Roger Hanlon. On Monday, Dr. Hanlon showed me around Woods Hole, and some of the different buildings. He introduced me to many of the researchers in his lab and explained the areas of research he was focusing on. He explained some of the major research projects that are planned out for the future, and the current ones that were underway.
I spent all of Tuesday with Bill Grossman, the Dive Safety Officer at the MBL. The dive program at the MBL is small, so Bill took me out on a few different collecting trips. We went to collect quahogs and do some plankton tows. In the afternoon, we went out again, this time on the bigger boat, the Gemma, with half of the embryology class. We did some plankton tows and dredged the bottom, turning up all sorts of cool things. I tried to get a sea star to eat a mussel while the plankton separated and revealed all sorts of developing life. I never realised how much lived in the water until I saw this.
On Wednesday, I helped Corinne Cramer, one of Dr. Hanlon’s interns, with her work on cuttlefish. Cuttlefish change color to camouflage or stand out from their surroundings, and they do this instantly. The Hanlon lab is studying a few different aspects of this camouflage. Corinne’s work involved the reaction of the cuttlefish to unnatural backgrounds. I helped her set up the experiments and run the trials. It is time consuming work, because you have to wait for each animal to be settled before taking a picture. Each animal has a different temperament, so some were agreeable, while others were easily disturbed.
On Thursday, I went across the street to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute to work with Ed O’Brien and Kim Malkowski. Some other Sea Rovers joined us, and Kim toured us around. We got to see the Exosuit in action! It was awesome to listen in to the communication between the suit pilot during the dive and the monitor in the control room. The Exosuit is a one atmosphere suit, sort of like a human shaped submarine. It can dive to 1000 feet, but at Woods Hole, they were only diving to around 50-60 feet for training.
I went back to the MBL on Friday, and spent the first part of the day in the tank room. The tank room is a massive aquarium that houses the animals for various experiments. I helped feed and clean, and release some newly hatched skates back into the wild. I went back out on the Gemma in the afternoon to do one more collecting trip before heading home.
I had a great experience in Woods Hole. Thanks to everyone who made it possible!