Thursday, November 21, 2013

Stargazing from a Bio-Luminescent Ocean

Hi, my name is Kelsey Cowen, and I'm one of the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) students for the fall semester of 2013. Along with seven other REU students, I have been participating in an independent research project funded by the National Science Foundation here at BIOS.     
Life at BIOS has been a wonderful experience. Having had to withdraw from school in order to take this REU opportunity, I can say with 100% certainty that my time here—with how much I’ve learned and what I’ve been able to do—was the best alternative to another semester in Western Massachusetts. Not only was the weather (usually) perfect for a day of jumping into the ocean from a 30 ft. cliff or eating ice cream at Bailey’s across the bridge, the company of the students, interns, and researchers here was always interesting and a lot of fun.
 Some of the other REU interns and I on the R/V Atlantic Explorer.

While I’ve been here, I’ve been able to do some pretty amazing things. I went for a night snorkel at Whalebone Bay which ended up becoming a night of stargazing from a bio-luminescent ocean when I realized I had worn my glasses instead of my contacts (snorkel masks don’t fit very well over sight correction hardware). I also got to volunteer at an international rugby tournament and attend a science talk on the conservation efforts of Nonsuch Island.

Swimming in a cave near the Swizzle Inn.

One of the most memorable things that I got to participate in was a cruise to the data collection sites of the Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study, a long term data collection endeavor born of the Hydrostation S time series which started here around 1950. BIOS has at its disposal the research vessel Atlantic Explorer, and I was able to live on the ship for six days during a research cruise.  This trip really helped me solidify everything I’ve been learning throughout my research project. I was also able to experience what it was like to sample straight from a CTD, and I learned a lot about how oceanographic equipment has evolved with the discipline.

Sampling from the CTD on the R/V Atlantic Explorer.

Overall, my time in Bermuda at BIOS has been a crazy enjoyable one. I have loved every minute of it, and would jump at any chance to return.

The REU program at BIOS is supported by the National Science Foundation's Division of Ocean Sciences under Grant No. 1262880.

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