Although the end of the summer is fast approaching, I continue to learn new marine science practices typically performed at Seaside. Our boats are still broken, however we have been able to partner with nearby organizations who can take us out on their own boats so we can continue our projects. This has been a helpful and interesting experience as it has allowed us to meet people from similar organizations in the North Shore area and learn about what they are doing as well. Through using these other boats we have been able to continue our work collecting and documenting data for invasive green crab species as well as performing a series of marine debris trawls.
Marine debris trawling is a technique performed by seaside interns which I have not yet discussed on my blog. The most important part of this process is the use of a boat which is why it was so crucial to find other organizations who would let us use theirs. The main purpose of a marine debris trawl is to collect marine debris, primarily micro plastics, from the ocean. This is done using two large netting devices with capsules attached to the ends, also known as the trawls. These can be attached to a large metal pole which is then attached across the boat. These nets are then dropped into the water on either side of the boat and the boat is driven at an extremely low speed for 15 minutes. At the end of this time, the trawls are pulled onboard and the capsules are emptied into containers and stored in a cooler. The main purpose of the trawling is to collect marine debris from different Cape Ann areas which can then be sent into a lab at Endicott College for counting and further testing. This allows seaside to document the Cape Ann areas with the highest presence of micro plastics and thus determine which areas are in most need of mitigation practices.
The marine citizen science team has also put a lot of focus on Seaside’s mudflat acidification testing program in the last couple weeks as it is one of our only projects that does not require a boat. This project involves using a water quality probe in a number of mudflats on the Cape Ann coastline. The probe tests for water temperature, salinity and pH of the mudflat. This data is recorded and sent to our partner organizations for their records. The data can be used to study the effects of ocean acidification on various Cape Ann areas using areas of high mudflat acidity as an indicator of most highly affected coastline. This can be used to push along public changes which will better the health and water quality of oceans on the North Shore by providing solid scientific evidence.
Although my internship is almost over I am grateful that I continue to learn new techniques and practices which I can take with me and use in future environmental work. I plan on using my last few weeks to really get to know my coworkers and colleagues within this organization and learn as much as I can from them about the environmental field before I go back to school.