So its officially been three weeks since my internship ended, and I thought I would do a final update to reflect on the whole experience and talk about my last few weeks as the AAUS Summer Intern. I think it took me this long to write my final post because of the wealth of activity that went on this summer; from earning four different scuba certifications, to working on three different scientific projects, and transforming my scuba knowledge into a teachable skill, the ways that I’ll practice scientific diving have been forever changed. Moreover, being the first experience I had post graduating from Williams College, it was formative in the way that it pushed me into the real world while still allowing me time to refocus in the beautiful Maine setting. Now in Boston, I find it hard to tell people exactly what I was doing between graduating from college and starting now as an intern at the New England Aquarium. It definitely was an amazing and educational experience for me, and proved that science diving is exactly what I hope to do with my life in the future.
Not only did I have a great time learning and working there, but I met some amazing people who inspired me to continue on in the hopes of becoming a working marine biologist. In a field that can be at times competitive and at times isolating, its great to meet others who push forward with their work and enjoy it as well. My many coworkers and fellow students really helped shape my experience. Not the least of which include my two mentors / bosses for the summer Chris Rigaud and Rick Wahle. I also received generosity from those outside my immediate campus in Walpole, including Jenna Walker and the OWUSS staff who led me through the summer, the AAUS community who supported my continued stay in September, and USiA, who provided me with a drysuit to learn from.
In my last few weeks at U.Maine my main occupation was helping to teach the Science Diving course. This experience was one of the most influential of the entire experience, because it acted as a refresher and summary course for all of the work I did over the summer to earn AAUS certification and Divemaster. I heard once that the way to learn something is to “See it, Do it, Teach it” and this class gave me the opportunity to really see all of the lessons at once. Whether it be ensuring hoses are hooked up, knowing the exact inner workings of your gear incase something goes wrong – especially how to lace a BCD strap – or knowing your body so that the constant ascents and descents required to test a class don’t interact with a lingering cold. You’re own kit and preparation have to become second nature if you’re preoccupied with making sure everyone else around you doesn’t forget to turn their air on.
Here are some photos of me on the job, just to prove it really happened!
Now I’ll be in Boston working at the New England Aquarium as a Giant Ocean Tank Intern, so if you want more updates just drop by some weekend and wave at me through the glass! At the aquarium I prep food and help maintain the health of the inhabitants of the faux coral reef tank. The 200,000 gallon tanks hosts dozens of different species of fish, four turtles, four sharks, and four rays. The animals eat approximately 40lbs of food every day that I help prepare in the mornings. I dive approximately twice a day in the tank, and with my training this summer I quickly passed my check-out dives and have begun hand feeding a few of the species in the tank. My increased buoyancy control helps me navigate the small pathways carved through the exhibit and my summer in 40 degree saltwater has me now spoiled in the 75 degree tank. Many of the skills I learned this summer transfer beautifully into the tank, including the suction sampling which will help me learn to vacuum the sand at the bottom of the tank. My increased understanding of gear helps me feel comfortable wearing aquarium gear instead of my own, who also prefer the harness style BCD instead of the normal jacket. And nothing can diminish the benefit of feeling comfort in the water that I attained this summer in Maine, which helps me keep calm and stoic when so many visitors are watching!
Maybe I’ll see you sometime in Boston but until then, thanks for the great summer.