Hey Ho Ho and a Bottle of… Algae?

There’s a part of me that wanted to be a pirate; maybe it was the dying fad of pirates that once stormed the screens of cinemas worldwide, maybe it was because they can travel the four oceans and see the world, maybe it was the fact that they get to wear cool hats, excess eyeliner and own parrots. However, standing at 5 feet flat (and that is just on the “good days”) on the round side, with no previous training in pistols firing, dueling, pirate talking (“Arrrrgh!”) or rum drinking, I opted to go into marine sciences in Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Science for this semester.

After battling with three boxes of my earthly possessions, overly emotional goodbyes with friends and an awkward long taxi ride, I arrived at East Boothbay. The four of us are the first batch of students in the Bigelow- Colby project, where will study and conduct research under the wings of experienced and professional scientists; the student and teacher ratio is almost 1:3. We are working in the new building, with state-of-the-art equipment. We have white coat, goggles and glass whiteboards (like in CSI). Real legit.

 

East Boothbay is simply breathtaking. We live in a beautiful little house that is just five minutes from the campus. The area is surrounded by water; there is a beautiful lake just a few miles from the house so blue and shimmery that it looks like a mirror fallen from heaven. The other day, we had a pizza picnic right at the docks. The slightly salty sea breeze, mixed with the sounds of laughter and a good slice was just so perfectly refreshing. I feel like I am living in a beautifully illustrated children’s book with verses that rhyme.

We have to do six cruises this year, where we will be collecting and analyzing different data over time. Our first cruise was smooth and cheery, and we could run the experiments without any troubles. The filtered seawater was stored in big glass bottles just like rum, we learnt cool hand gestures to lower sensors deep into the bottom of the sea, and we sail the boat singing and talking about latitudes water salinity. Save for the interesting lessons about phytoplankton and zooplankton, I felt like a real pirate, ready to seek treasures.

The second cruise was a lot rougher; waves after waves splashed, and the cold seawater cut us like tiny glass daggers. However doing field work means that we need to cooperate together as a team and brave the storms; even when we are all dizzy from the sways, we could not shy away from filtering and preserving the chlorophyll samples since they cannot wait. We are still inexperienced, but I really look forward when we work like a well-oiled machine, and the day we can run the ship all by ourselves. At night we still rock from left to right since our bodies still think we are on a boat.

 

Also, my name is Josephine Liang, a junior in Colby. Welcome to my blog and hang on, sailor, we are in for a great journey!

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