"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines.

Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." -Mark Twain

>> Monday, November 15, 2010

At the end of their Oceanography class, students were asked to reflect on the following question:

What experience this trip has impacted you the most in terms of connecting with the natural world?

Their answers were wonderful and, well, blog-worthy!

Hillary Wight
My favorite experience of the term was the day the pod of false killer whales appeared at our ship. I realized as they swam beneath us that, for reasons outside our control, these amazing marine mammals decided to come over and play near us. We saw them as lucky observers because they allowed us to. They gave us the privilege and it made me appreciate the chances that nature gives us. I achieved my goals for this term. We focused a lot on marine biology and were able to connect it with all the creatures we saw from the comb jellies in Mystic to the sperm whale and tropical fish in the Caribbean.

Ian O’Connor
Snorkeling on Virgin Gorda was the moment of where I got a better understanding of the natural world. We snorkeled in an ecosystem, and I saw how the fish had a niches in the coral reef. I saw how everything worked together to create a community - how one fish or sea urchin could affect the lives of the other species of the reef.

Garrett Pierce
There are so many experiences that have allowed me to connect with the natural world, I can’t choose one. The first was standing along the side of the boat watching the dolphins and false killer whales swim by. It felt as though I was in the water swimming alongside them. The second experience was handling all the creatures that we caught during our voyage. It felt like I was really connecting with the creatures by holding them in my hands. The third experience was snorkeling and actually being in the water with all the fish and other sea creatures. It made me feel like I was one of them. Finally, just being on a boat for the past two months has allowed me to relate to nature and everything that it brings. The sea is truly an amazing, unpredictable place that I will never forget and hope to come back to in the near future.

Klare Nevins
It’s hard to choose what has influenced me the most, but one of the top things was seeing the sea turtles at the rescue center and learning about how unique they all are. It was interesting to see how human influence has directly corresponded with their conditions. Another highlight was killing (slitting the throat) of a mahi mahi, eating its still beating heart, and then filleting it. I have never killed anything bigger than a bug and to purposely take the life of a live animal was very emotional and eye-opening. I really saw at a whole new level what it means to nourish yourself. The third moment was when we saw the false killer whales from the head rig. I was so close! AHH! It was a very humbling experience. Finally, I loved snorkeling at the Baths. The fish were so colorful and diverse, as was the actual coral reef.

Janelle Garcelon
After spending all term learning about all the different species in the ocean, one of the most influential moments for me was going to Playa Rincon in the Dominican Republic. Ali and I had learned about the trash gyre and how trash affects marine life. When we got to Playa Rincon, there was so much trash along the beach that had blown ashore during storms. It just demonstrated how one little piece of trash can end up far away from where it started and how many organisms it might affect.

Patrick Allen
The experience that impacted me most was when we went to the Baths and went snorkeling. The Baths were amazing. It really was my ideal paradise. It made me realize how much beauty nature can hold.

Ned Pressman
Of all my experiences on the ship Harvey Gamage, there is one moment where I truly felt connected with nature. That moment was my hour in the top of a live oak tree on Cumberland Island. The motion of the tree, the wilderness, the sounds – they all came together to create a fantastic spectacle. I watched as birds flew around me as if I were a part of the tree. That is the moment where I had the greatest connection with nature.

Maddi Trixi Gilroy
The moment that impacted me the most in terms of connecting with the natural world was snorkeling and seeing a parrot fish. I remember looking in the field guide and thinking, “That fish doesn’t exist. Those colors aren’t that bright.” Actually seeing it on the reef was so cool. Other great moments were seeing the hermit crabs on Norman Island and seeing whales in real life. That was crazy because nowadays you think of whales as a myth. To actually see them was amazing.

Will Tower
The experience that impacted me the most was when we went to the top of Spyglass Hill on Norman Island. I sat on a rock and watched the masked boobies diving from above. It offered me a whole new perspective on marine life and what affects it.

Hannah More
The moment that impacted me the most was when the large pod of false killer whales and dolphins was swimming with us and I got to see them from the head rig. It was the perfect view of them. I could see them playing together and when they surfaced, I could see their features unlike I ever thought I would. It brought tears to my eyes. It really hit me how lucky I was to see that.

Trip Jagolta
I think that fishing impacted me the most during this trip. It made me think a lot about the oceans and how cool they really are. It was awesome to see that way out in the middle of the ocean, without being able to see land in any direction, you can still find a great resource.

Megan Subsick
The moment that has impacted me the most in terms of connecting with the natural world was most likely when I killed the mahi mahi. I feel this way because I saw the creature as it fought against me. I felt its scales and fins before I cut its throat open and saw the blood flow slowly.
I saw the color fade from its body the way color can fade from someone’s face. I felt its beating heart in my hand and saw when the fish finally stopped kicking. Then I ate the heart and felt it pound in my mouth. The feeling of regret took me for a spin as I cut it apart in the darkness midships. Nothing has ever affected me so much. There was another heart inside me that I had to live for. The feelings I had about fish taking life changed in an instant and the feelings I felt changed my view about eating fish forever.

Cat Kinney
In terms of connecting with the natural world, this whole trip really brought me closer. One moment was during the Mystic to Charleston transit. The waves were throwing us about. I got seasick and we all got soaked. Once, while we were sitting waiting for history class to start and the boat was rocking everywhere dolphins jumped up around the boat. It was then I realized how much we are affected by the ocean and how other creatures are too. Dolphins were going through the same waves we were. It was interesting to know - proof being the seasickness - that we aren’t built for the water. Yet, we’ve always travelled across it. In the end, we are connected to the dolphins because the ocean was effecting our lives are much as theirs.

Steph Bonewald
Going to the Baths in the British Virgin Islands (BVIs) had a major impact on me. I truly felt I could connect with nature and explore everything nature has to offer. Being able to snorkel with the hundreds of fish made me realize how diverse ocean life really is. If there are that many creatures in that one spot, imagine the amount of species filling our entire oceans. It was amazing to be able to experience it first hand as well. Sure the textbooks can teach you a lot of useful information, but experiencing it on your own is just mind-boggling. The Baths supplied me with experiences I’ll remember for years to come.
The experience the impacted me the most in the marine world would definitely have to be snorkeling in the Baths or Norman Island in the BVIs. It is easy to learn about ecosystems in the classroom, but being able to see it right there in front of you is another experience that is hard to really grasp. I never thought I would be able to see the stuff we talked about in class close up and in detail. It really opened my eyes to marine life. You think this stuff is almost made up.

Cameron Lucas
The most influential moment on Ocean was when I was able to be on the head rig and get less then a foot away from a false killer whale. I had never seen them before and being the nut I am about marine mammals I stood there in awe observing the porpoising and bow riding. Bottlenose dolphins were mixed in there as well. I couldn’t explain how amazing it was seeing these creatures. I never know if marine science was a path I wanted to take, just my other option, and I felt after this moment that marine science should always be a part of me. Whether or not I pursue it in college. I want to learn more still and teach others what makes the ocean so amazing. I hope to continue to work in marine science. Save the Oceans!

Hannah Webster
What has impacted me the most was learning what happens to pollutants in the waters and how it affects the life. Also learning about how long things stay in the water till they disintegrate was really interesting and it makes me want to work harder at keeping those pollutants out of the water. I would now like to go into a career researching ways to clean the ocean and make it a healthier place for life.

Brooks Robbie
It was amazing when we went snorkeling and saw all those tropical fish and different species of coral. We learned about the corals a class before we went so everything was fresh in my memory. When we came back we discussed the different fish that we had seen and I felt like I know exactly what I had seen. It was amazing to study one of the most biodiversity ecosystems on the planet, especially because we were there, not in some classroom, but swimming with the fish. I think it gave me a better appreciation of the ocean now that I know what I am looking at.

Frankie McCormick
The hike up spyglass hill during our treasure hunt connected me most with the natural world. Brooks and I were the first two to get there and the only-watchers there for the first twenty minutes. This was great because for those twenty minutes I sat on a rock and just looked at this amazing view and thought about the view. I realized that this is the exact hill many pirates hundreds of years ago used to spot enemy ships. I thought that was the coolest thing in the world. The view was still as natural as it was then. No buildings, just land and sea and nothing else. It was incredible.

Olivia Owens
At the beginning of this trip I remember being super excited for being on ocean and not having any idea what to expect. Then there was the never ending port stop in Mystic due to weather, but then I found myself wishing I was back in Mystic when my whole watch including myself were seasick in huge waves and the rain was pouring into my foul weather gear. I remember being so miserable and just wanting dry clothes and my warm bed at home. Now, being here at Norman Island and remembering back to it I really enjoying knowing what we went through was insane. Today while preparing to get underway it was pouring again, but I did not want to go down to my bunk this time. Instead I made it fun with Maddi, watching her sing in the rain. We have learned to embrace the good and bad weather.


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