Friday, December 19, 2014

The Beaches of Bermuda

The following blog post was written by a 2014 National Science Foundation (NSF) funded Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) student following their internship at BIOS.

Working on DNA extractions
Hello, my name is Amanda Appelson and I am a junior studying Marine Affairs at the University of Miami. I have been working as an REU student with Dr. Gretchen Goodbody-Gringley on the Bermuda Invasive Lionfish Control Initiative.

Bermuda is a country full of beautiful beaches and super friendly people. The vibrantly colored houses and constant greetings on the street give Bermuda its unique charm. Beyond the wonderful and close-knit community of BIOS, there are an endless number of beautiful beaches, crystal clear waters, cliffs and caves to enjoy. Some highlights were swimming in Blue Hole, and snorkeling at Horseshoe Bay.

Crystal clear waters at North Rock

Besides relaxing on beautiful beaches in my time off, I had the opportunity to attend a variety of events happening around the island including the Rugby Classic and Oktoberfest. Some of my favorite activities have been SCUBA diving at a shipwreck, taking an REU trip to Nonsuch Island and snorkeling at North Rock.

Working in Bermuda has only reinforced my passion and interest in the invasive Lionfish and marine conservation. I had the opportunity to work in a molecular lab, assist as a deck hand and experience a cruise out to sea on the R/V Atlantic Explorer. My time here has truly been full of new experiences.

Lionfish collection

Snorkeling around Nonsuch Island

REU trip to Nonsuch Island

Church Bay

Tobacco Bay

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Getting Over the Wooziness: Life at Sea

The following blog post was written by a 2014 National Science Foundation (NSF) funded Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) student following their internship at BIOS.

Hi my name is Michael Wooster and I am a senior studying marine biology at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. I am working with Dr. Eric Hochberg in the Coral Reef Ecology and Optics Laboratory at BIOS. I am investigating how coral community light-use efficiency (LUE) changes under different environmental conditions. LUE describes the ability of the community to convert light energy into sugar (via photosynthesis). I explored the effects of elevated temperature, carbon dioxide, and nutrients on LUE in a flume mesocosm. The results will give us new insight to how the physiology of coral communities will respond to expected environmental changes over the next few decades.

One good thing about studying coral reef ecology is being able to call scuba diving work. I had an amazing time diving on the reefs and doing a little science with it as well.

It was not just all work, we also explored and had a lot of fun and adventures in the three months that we were at BIOS. One of the biggest adventures we had was a 24 hour cruise on the R/V Atlantic Explorer. After the initial wooziness we had a great time doing some science out at sea collecting water samples from niskin bottles and the CTD. There was also some down time where we explored the ship, watched a lot of movies in the cinema room, ate delicious food by 5 star chefs, and napped here and there.

There was also the time that we were forced to stay in the library for 2 days because of category 2 hurricane Gonzalo. We made it through by watching movies, playing games, and building forts to sleep in.

Bermuda is an island so we can’t forget about the beaches. These are some of the best beaches I have ever been to and the pink sand is so cool. Even though there are not that many waves, you can be entertained by climbing rocky cliffs, snorkeling to see corals, and my personal favorite, cliff jumping.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Stretching Your Intellectual Legs

The following blog post was written by a 2014 National Science Foundation (NSF) funded Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) student following their internship at BIOS.

My name is April Oliver, and I study Biochemistry at California Polytechnic State University, from which I will be graduating next June. Our school motto is “Learn by Doing” and I have been doing a lot of learning and a lot of doing during my internship here at BIOS! For my project with the Bermuda Bio-Optics Lab, I have been characterizing water-soluble organic carbon in marine aerosols from the open ocean, hoping to lend some insights into the nature of atmospheric deposition of organic carbon.

We had a lot of fun exploring Bermuda. The locals are a very friendly, tight knit community. Everyone smiles and says hello, wants to know where we are from and what we are up to. The beaches here are amazing (and I’m from California).

The island is small, so you never miss an ocean sunset.

The BIOS station is also really beautiful. It is densely planted so that you feel like you’re living in a jungle paradise.

The resident cat was a favorite. He was very friendly, following us everywhere and sitting on our laps whenever we did work in the lounge.

One day we visited Blue Hole Park. It is a magical place. Lagoons surrounded by mangroves, caves with cold underwater lakes, and dense flora make it a fun adventure.

One of the most memorable experiences that we’ve had during our stay in Bermuda was the opportunity to go to TEDxBermuda. It’s nice to stretch your intellectual legs and hear some ideas from people outside your field of study. Let me tell you, we learned about some MIND-BLOWING things! The very first talk was from anthropologist Carl Lipo, who studied the indigenous people of Easter Island. He figured out how the Rapa Nui moved the huge monolithic human carvings, called Moai, for which Easter Island is famous for.

He said that the Moai were designed to be “walked” for many miles from the quarries which they were carved. I didn’t understand what he meant, until he showed this video which had me picking my jaw up off the floor.

I'm so grateful for this experience. The people I've met are fun, bright, and spontaneous, and my mentor (Natasha McDonald) is the best that I could have hoped for. I am sad to be leaving this beautiful place, and hope to return in the future.