My internship is located at Seaside Sustainability’s intern office in Gloucester, MA, a small beach town on the north shore of Massachusetts. At the intern office there are about 15-20 Seaside interns who work each day, split up into groups based on intern-type and project. Although Seaside is an environmental non-profit, the interns that work there possess a wide-range of knowledge on different subject matter. The marine science interns who I work with are primarily the scientists who go out in the field to perform data collection and various conservation methods. However, in the office there are interns focused on a number of other things such as social media, marketing, event planning and finance. Just being in this environment of such diverse interests has already given me a good taste of the need for people of many different academic backgrounds in a non-profit setting. I am excited to learn about what the other interns do in addition to what I do in my own projects to gain a more holistic understanding of the action being taken at Seaside.
My first week at seaside as a marine science intern was a whirlwind of training, meeting new people and learning new conservation techniques. My very first day was spent out on the marine science boat where we had boat training led by Rick, Seaside’s boat mechanic. We learned boating etiquette and maintenance on the Boston whaler seaside uses for marine science practices in north shore waters. Over the next two days we were able to put our boat training to practice and drove out to some of the crab traps set up just outside Gloucester harbor. I learned that Seaside keeps 10 crab traps along the Coast of Cape Ann to catch an invasive species called the green crab. At each location we learned how to pull the traps out of the water and then measure the crabs which involved the somewhat scary processes of holding them! We also learned how to tell the difference between a green crab and other native species of crabs. We then collected the green crabs in bags which were brought back to shore to be sold to local seafood restaurants. This practice is very important to the Cape Ann marine ecosystem as green crabs are invasive and thus greatly disrupt the food chain in this area. By catching and removing green crabs, Seaside is able to help mitigate this problem and bring the marine ecosystem back to its natural state.
The next week involved learning how to perform mudflat acidification testing, one of the data collection methods important to the marine science program at seaside. We took the boat to some of the mudflats near Gloucester harbor and used a probe to test pH and calcium carbonate levels. Seaside interns are tasked with collecting this data which is then sent to Salem Sound Coast watch, one of our partner organizations. This data is used to measure the relationship between increases in atmospheric CO2 levels and ocean acidification in north shore waters. Ocean acidification occurs when carbon dioxide, created by the burning of fossil fuels, is absorbed by water. This causes the pH and calcium carbonate concentrations in the water to drop creating marine environments with higher levels of acidity which is dangerous to marine organisms. Through data collection in the mudflats around the north shore, seaside is able to compile information regarding the health of north shore marine environments, so that necessary actions can be taken to improve water quality in these areas.
During my first two weeks at Seaside I learned a number of important marine science conservation techniques which allowed me to put what I’ve learned in classes at Dickinson into practice. I have learned about environmental issues such as invasive species and ocean acidification in the past and it was very interesting to have hands on experience mitigating and collecting data regarding these problems. I am also beginning to form an understanding of the workings of a non-profit organization and the extensive work that goes into keep it running efficiently and successfully. I have had a great first two weeks at Seaside and I am excited for what’s to come this summer!